National Holiday Week 2010 - LiJiang/BaiSha


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Asia » China » Yunnan » Lijiang
October 19th 2010
Published: October 23rd 2010
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Impressions LiJiangImpressions LiJiangImpressions LiJiang

We couldn't believe the number of perfomers, the costume changes and the size of the spectacle.
Editorial aside

It has been brought to my attention (by Dianne) that I have not been giving proper credit to the photographer in my blog entries. I would like to point out that most of the pictures you see in our blog were taken by Dianne (obviously the ones she is in were not). Some were taken by fellow travellers and some by servers in restaurants or other travellers who just happened to be nearby. BTW, Dianne also edits the writing of the text and also the picture captions. Thank you, Dianne, I couldn’t do it without you!

Back to the action

There are signs all over LiJiang telling you to only deal with authorized guides. We threw caution to the wind and agreed to use Li, a local guide who met us in LiJiang’s big square. She was extremely friendly, had pretty good English and didn’t want money up front; what did we have to lose? Li showed up at the agreed upon time and walked us to the mini-bus that she had arranged. There was room for the driver, Li and five others, if you are really good friends. As there were only three of
Cast of thousandsCast of thousandsCast of thousands

well, maybe hundreds. There was a constant ebb and flow of people up and down, back and forth.
us, it was perfect.

Our plan was to visit Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and “Impressions LiJiang”, a dramatic performance (spectacle) put on by hundreds of actors in an open air setting near the Mountain. The trip would be followed up by a visit to Baisha, another ancient town in the area, which was supposed to be much more “authentic” than LiJiang.

Because the location is so high (3,100 meters, about 10,000 feet), Li recommended we buy portable oxygen bottles and rent suitable coats for the mountain trip and the Spectacle. Li said it can get really cold just sitting there for an hour and a half. So, suitably equipped and attired, we headed off. As we were passing through one intersection, a policeman was pulling over some vehicles, including ours. He gave the driver some real grief but we eventually continued our trip to the Spectacle grounds. We had to pick up all our stuff on leaving the mini-bus as Li said the driver had to return to LiJiang because “he was being punished”. Interesting; we had to hope he was coming back!

Spectacular Spectacle

Because the Spectacle is only performed once a day, we had
Table dancersTable dancersTable dancers

Maybe not what you were expecting?
to go to it right away, even though we would have preferred to go to the Mountain first. I wasn’t sure what to expect but certainly not the crowd that wanted to see it. The outdoor auditorium was huge and as we worked our way into the stadium, Li casually mentioned she would meet us “on the other side”. Hmmmm. Exactly where is that? It turned out the coats were good for sitting on as the seats were hard plastic. But that’s all they were good for. It was so sunny and hot that I actually get a sun burn on my neck.

The Spectacle was incredible. Hundreds of performers. Some, on horseback, galloped up and down the ramps at the back of the stage. The director was reportedly the same person who developed the Olympic opening ceremonies. It is really difficult to describe this show. The pictures give you at least an idea of the grandeur of the event.

We weren’t sure where to find Li but, on exit, there she was waving to us to show us where to find our mini-bus. The driver had returned but was obviously not happy. We drove to the bottom
Horseback ridersHorseback ridersHorseback riders

These guys rode up and down the ramps at a pretty good clip. Here they stopped long enough to wave to us.
of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain where Li mentioned that we couldn’t go up to where we wanted to because it was closed for what we think were environmental concerns. Hmmmm. So why did we need to rent/buy the coats/oxygen? Hmmmm. But she took us to the bottom of a gondola and sent us up the mountain as far as we could go.

Of course (?), she doesn’t accompany us as that would be extra cost and she has been there. When we got to the top, it was a challenge to figure out what to do as the ticket sellers did not speak English. Well, it was easy! All we had to do was buy yet another ticket which had 5 tear off bits. Hmmmm. But where do we use them? The only thing we could see to do was take a large golf cart type vehicle to where-ever it went. The attendant ripped off part A of the ticket. We guessed we were on the right track. There was a trail around an interesting field with some goats and other animals that were too far off for me to identify. But there was also a WC; so far,
More wavingMore wavingMore waving

As if the waving wasn't enough, they had to wave standing on their horses!
so good! Back on the golf carts, off went part B of the ticket and we headed back to the gondola. That was fun!

At the bottom, there was Li, ever smiling. Back on a new golf cart and off to the river (and off with part C). Some interesting pictures. Back in the cart, off with Part D and on to another part of the river where the yaks were waiting (see pictures). Back in the carts (off with part E) and back to the main parking lot. Looking back it was pretty weird, but fun, and certainly an experience. At least we figured out how to use all the parts of our tickets!

Baisha adventure

The mini-bus driver was still not in a good mood. We wanted to go to Baisha and, apparently, he didn’t. We suspect that he wanted a bigger share of the total daily fee. He drove into the ancient town and stopped. We all got out, not knowing exactly where we were; in the town itself or in the province for that matter! Tensions were rising and a loud argument broke out between Li and the driver. The locals gathered round
CostumesCostumesCostumes

From time to time, different performers would wind their way through the crowd. The costumes were beautiful.
to see what was going on. At one point, the driver grabbed the coats, oxygen etc and threw them out onto the ground. The argument grew louder. The driver slammed the sliding door of the mini-bus so hard it fell off! At this point, we decided, enough was enough. We pulled Li aside and said thanks, here is the amount we agreed on and we would make our own way back to town. It can’t be that far, right?

We walked the equivalent of 3 or 4 blocks and ended up in the center of Baisha, out of sight of the “disagreement”. The restaurant we had read about in the guide books, Café Buena Vista (a good Chinese name), was right there on Main Street. We picked a table by the window (actually there were no walls!) and ordered a very nice lunch; after all, it was after 3:00 pm.

As we were finishing up, a different mini-bus pulled up and out popped Li! She told us her job wasn’t done until we were delivered to our hotel. This despite the fact that we had already paid her in full. She and the new driver sat in the
DrummersDrummersDrummers

At one point, a huge contingent of drummers spread out in all the aisles in the grandstand. The drumming performance was awesome.
restaurant and drank tea until we had finished touring the little town.

The new driver took some very interesting back roads to LiJiang so we could get a better idea of the rural, non-tourist areas. At one point, we stopped so Linda and Dianne (see editorial aside) could take some pictures. The driver lit up a cigarette and offered me one. I had just found the phrase “wŏ bù xīyān (I don’t smoke)” in my dictionary. A perfect time to try it out. Mistake: he replied with a barrage of rapid-fire Chinese. I countered with the second phrase I know “wŏ bù hui shuō zhōng wén (I don’t speak Chinese)”. He laughed and responded “wŏ bù hui shuō English”! “English”, rather than “yīng yŭ”, was his one word of English. We had a good laugh. He was a very friendly chap and a vast improvement on the first driver.

Peace and quiet

After all the excitement, Li dropped us at the pedestrian area of LiJiang and we strolled back to our quiet courtyard to enjoy Happy Hour before dinner. We had plenty to laugh about: the “punishment”, the heavy coats when it was so hot, not knowing
InvolvementInvolvementInvolvement

This guy was really into his performance.
where to go at the top of the gondola, the door falling off the mini-cab, exactly where were we when we were in Baisha, Li picking us up with a new driver. Ah, the joys of Chinese adventures… My only regret was that, in the excitment of the moment, we didn't take any pictures of the "adventure". Sigh.

But the day wasn’t over: we still had to eat dinner. We decided to go to the House of Tibet, our breakfast place across the street. Simple and familiar. How nice.

The next day would bring a 4 hour bus ride to Dali. How it could it compete with LiJiang? Time (or the next blog) will tell!



Additional photos below
Photos: 33, Displayed: 28


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GondolaGondola
Gondola

This view was from the top of the gondola.
Prayer cardsPrayer cards
Prayer cards

On our walk around the meadow at the top of the gondola we came to a section where hundreds of prayer cards were hanging from tress, poles, and anything that would hold one. Some were even in English.
Wedding BellesWedding Belles
Wedding Belles

Wedding photos as a very big deal in China, often going on for several days. We are used to seeing 20-30 sets of photos being taken on the beaches in Jinshitan every weekend. We didn't expect to see a photo shoot going on at the top of the gondola. What a lot of work to haul everything up there.
Mountain sceneryMountain scenery
Mountain scenery

When you come from BC and Alberta, you know about mountains. These are the beginnings of the Hymalayas and are pretty impressive too.
South end of north bound goatsSouth end of north bound goats
South end of north bound goats

Any time we got near animals they left the scene.
Leechs?Leechs?
Leechs?

We usually take pictures of signs with interesting English. This one was fine, but who would have thought leechs would be a problem at over 10,000 feet with no lakes in sight. Li assured us these were leechs that would "suck your blood".
YaksYaks
Yaks

A little disappointing. These poor fellows just stood around waiting for people to get their pictures taken sitting on the yaks. At least they were cooled off by the river. We had hoped for something "wilder", what ever that means.
WaterfallWaterfall
Waterfall

OK, so it's man-made but it still an interesting effect.
More yaksMore yaks
More yaks

You could even say a yak a minute.
Even betterEven better
Even better

I knew we could make that waterfall more interesting. (and note the heavy coat on the bench that had to be carried where ever we went).
AlmostAlmost
Almost

The mountain they show you in the tourist pictures is there, right there! Behind those clouds!
Mountain peeksMountain peeks
Mountain peeks

Every once in a while, the mountain top would peek out at us.
A sign of the timesA sign of the times
A sign of the times

Many of the signs are open to interpretation. I wasn't sure about this one. No fires and no smoking are obvious as there is a line through them. But is the middle picture suggesting it is OK to fall down?


23rd October 2010

When I read the blog and see the pictures, it almost makes me think that I was there.
16th January 2011

Helpful entry...
I have really enjoyed reading this entry, we are planning a similar trip, and I've found it helpful and informative, as well as very interesting. Thank you.

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