After a short coach trip from Tengchong city which started on a good motorway style of road but after turning off soon became a dirt track that I personally would have struggled to drive a car down let alone a small coach!
Soon we came across the Hemu village. This is old world China at its most rural. Most houses are constructed from bamboo and timber nestled at the foot of the mountain and surrounded by either cultivated land for vegetables or, to our delight, wild Camellia reticulata. Very soon we began to notice variations within the plants from the usual single pink to some dark pinks and even a white edged on pink. These plants have been seleted over the years to produce the Retic's that we know and love today.
Some of the trees (not shrubs) grow to over 30 m (over 90ft) with a trunk girth larger than I could get my arms around. These very plants would have been growing here in George Forrest’s times and are more than likely the parents of our “Retic’s” growing on Camellia walk in the garden today. Truly an awe inspiring moment. I have travelled a similar route through Yunnan as the great man and for me I haven’t had to endure the many hardships that he had to suffer. The plant hunters achievements should never be underestimated. On your next visit to Trewithen bear in mind that many of the plants you will see are the results of these men’s endeavours.
Nothing I see or do in China will top this moment, the main reason for travelling on the tour was to witness “Wild” Camellias and today was a dream come true.