Published: October 28th 2007October 21st 2007
After arriving in Lijiang, (in North-West Yunnan Province) we were transported on perilious mountain roads (think rock falls /landslides /precipitous drops /narrow roads /limited guard rails / slippery mud), for some six hours to the very beautiful Lugu Lake (which borders Sichuan Province). The journey included crossings of some six mountains, and some fantastic scenery, including of the Jinsha River, the upper reaches of the Yangtse River. Sadly there were too few stops in which pictures could be taken! We also passed some amazing agricultural communities, and diverse tribal cultures, including the Naxi, the Pun-Mi, the Li Su and ultimately at Lugu Lake, the Mosuo. It was fascinating to see women working in the fields in their brightly coloured distinctive clothes. Steep hills were grazed by goats, cattle and pigs and often under cultivation. Mud brick homes and buildings gave way to log cabins. Agriculture was predominantly corn (mainly grown to feed the pigs) and rice, but many other vegetables were grown. Simple brick and tile kilns were evident, along with with small coal mines and a cement factory. Lugu Lake (Lugu Hu) was really beautiful and apparently we were supposed to stay in homes with the local people on our
first night - something I welcomed. However, the lack of facilities, the uncomfortable journey and the cold had our tour group rebelling, and we ended up in a hotel, ironically, without any hot water! Night included a dance exhibition by the Mosuo people, which was fun, although the cowboy style leather hats worn by the men was somewhat disconcerting. Afterwards we had a "BBQ" involving many foods including potato, aubergine, lamb and fish; there was much singing with adjacent groups trying to outdo each other, which was lots of fun. Less fun was being offered too many toasts in rice wine (bai-jiu) which made my next morning a misery - the first casualty being the canoe trip on the lake after breakfast. I did manage, however, to participate in the visit to a Mosuo home. A branch of the much larger Naxi group, the Mosuo claim to be the last truly matriarchical society in the world. The head of the home is the grandmother, and their children, male and female, and their children, stay in the home. At 13 years of age, a young woman is given a room at the edge of the house into which she may receive
a male lover. However, he is expected to return to his own home by dawn. While she may well continue a relationship for many years, they will never cohabit, and he will normally have little to do with any children. Of course, she is perfectly at liberty to change lovers, or have more than one at any time. This is known as "walking marriage". It was astonishing to see such a singularly different way of doing thigs survive today. As part of our visit to the home, the men of our group (including me) were paired with a Mosuo woman, had a mock marriage ceremony (only a pairing really, they don't marry as such) which including carrying the woman on your back over a lamp, drinking bai-jiu through linked arms, and stepping through a hidden wall panel. The men were then given a cheap ring and fleeced (ie asked to pay money for taking part in the show!) Thus, having so recently married the lovely Dan from Shenzhen, I acquired, however so briefly, a Mosuo wife as well! All was all in good fun, and a very interesting experience. The rest of the day was spent nursing my hangover, while
traversing some of the most fearful roads in China back to Lijiang.
There are more photos below