In the morning we went to go visit a Bai hospital in Shaxi. Along the way, we passed by several sites where a movie was being filmed. We passed by extras wearing old Japanese army uniforms which particularly amused Lu Yuan. I was pretty surprised that they were filming a movie in such a small village, but at the same time I could understand that it would save them money to film in a place that does not have that many people or interruptions.
At the Bai hospital, we learned that it was the only Bai hospital in the province. It was a small hospital and just last April received funding to get an ambulance. There were a few kids running around the hospital and they seemed very cute and friendly. After visiting the Bai hospital, we hopped on the bus and drove to a restaurant for lunch. The conversation that took place had a few hilarious moments, including this one:
Grayson was observing how the whole table was silent except for Lewis and Lye Ching who were talking about a schoolmate that none of us knew, being from different schools than them.
Grayson: Hey Peter,
let’s have a conversation that no one else can participate in.
Peter: Okay Grayson, what do you wanna talk about?
Grayson looked around and saw that the rest of the table consisted entirely of girls except for Lewis.
Grayson: How about man stuff?
Peter: What kind of man stuff?
Grayson: I don’t know, you choose: sports or prostates.
After several hours on the bus we arrived in Lijiang. We stopped by our hotel first to check in and drop off our luggage. I really liked our hotel room because it was big, clean, and had the most unique water faucet I had ever seen. Jordan, Ananthi, Caroline, Noor, Maura, and I all went out exploring together while the rest of the group stayed behind in the hotel to take showers since most of them were unable to take showers during their rural homestays. Caroline and Noor quickly became separated from us, but we were not worried since we all made sure to take the hotel’s business cards before going out. If needed, we could show a taxi driver the hotel card with the hotel’s address and get a ride back. We explored Lijiang’s Old Town since it was
just a block away from our hotel. It was full of old buildings and a lot of shops. Many of the buildings had Dongba writing on them, a pictographic system of writing belonging to the Naxi people.
We explored all over until we got very lost at the other end of Old Town, so we hailed over some musicians walking by. We asked them for directions and surprisingly they could speak English and told us to follow them. At that moment a taxi drove by and instead we took the taxi back up to the street our hotel was on. We had lunch with Ben, Shika, Desiree, Caroline, and Erin at a dumpling place right near our hotel. We ordered fried rice, forty vegetable dumplings, and forty meat dumplings. We finished all of the food and it was delicious and cheap.
Afterward Ananthi and I headed back to Old Town to do some shopping because we saw dozens of places with great souvenir items. We shopped to our hearts’ content until dinner time rolled around. We had dinner with the same group from lunch, with the addition of Liz. Originally we were eating outside, but it
suddenly started pouring rain so we had to move all of our food inside. The food was great and afterward they passed around a bottle of Yunnan red wine that Jordan bought.
The group all got together at the hotel as instructed by Lu Yuan and together we went to a performance by the Naxi Orchestra. The music was interesting and played by instruments that I was not used to hearing. Almost every member of the orchestra was an elderly person. They took a few minutes before the concert to introduce the five members of the orchestra who were over 80 years old. My favorite instruments during the performance were the zither, the drum, and the Chinese gong chimes. The gong chimes are a series of small gongs hung on a frame and are rung to direct the orchestra, almost like a conductor. The chimes were played by the oldest member of the orchestra who was an 86-year-old man. He sang a few words before the beginning of every song and then rang a chime to mark the start of the song, sort of like how in bands there is a person who will shout, “1, 2, 3!”
and then start the song.
After the first song, one of the members who was known as a ladies’ man in his youth sang a comical song about womanizing. The way he smiled and winked at the audience during the song made us all laugh, even those of us who could not understand what he was saying since he was singing in Chinese. During the orchestra’s performances, I liked how the instruments would slowly join in at the beginning, each sounding unique in the part that it contributed. I also liked how one could hear the patterns in the song that at first sounded repetitive, but actually were being played by different instruments each time the pattern was repeated.
About halfway through the concert, the shifu (师傅) of the orchestra came out to talk to the audience. He was over 70 years old but still had a lively mind and sense of humor. He was a famous conductor and apparently even conducted for the Philharmonic Orchestra. His name was Xuan Ke and he was fluent in Chinese, English, and Tibetan, just to name a few of the languages he knew. Similarly to Professor Huang, he was
Do We Need an Exorcist or Something?
The Bai Hospital was Engrish galore.
also imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution for many years. His mind was very active and his memory seemed crystal clear when he told us details about his past. Right now he is directing this Naxi orchestra both as a tribute to his Naxi heritage and as a way to keep their music alive. Naxi music has been slowly but surely fading and Mr. Xuan is doing his utmost to bring it back into popularity so that it can be preserved for future generations.
When the concert was over, we all chatted and took pictures with him. Several audience members came up to ask him to autograph their things and he called them “groupies” as a joke to us. Some of my friends also got their things signed by him. We also got to see short videos of him teaching Naxi people how to sing in a chorus.
Returning from the concert, Ananthi and I bought more pashmina scarves and she bought two expensive shawls that were hand-woven and made of glittering, soft material. Back at the hotel, she and I watched an episode of Hi My Sweetheart on TV. It was one of the earlier episodes,
so I was able to explain to her the plotline fairly easily. After Hi My Sweetheart, they played Red Cliff II, which I also explained to Ananthi. She immediately became a fan of Zhuge Liang, but for some reason predicted that everyone would die in the end of the movie. She is very pessimistic about movies because she hates it when she expects her favorite characters to live and they end up dying tragically at the end. It was pretty amusing listening to her dread the end of the movie like the apocalypse.
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