Edit Blog Post
Published: June 25th 2017
Geo: 26.8841, 100.221
A late start with Lily saw us leave at 9 o'clock and I think we are getting used to this because we didn't stir till after 7 (unheard of for me!)
We headed for the only park in Lijiang, a sprawling greenscape that is the cultural centre for the young and old of the city. We were still early enough to see Naxi woman starting their day with group dancing, large groups enjoying tai chi, elderly people doing their morning facial exercise (seriously...an organised group) and the lazy Naxi men gathering in the park to smoke, talk and showcase their beautiful singing birds.
The park entrance is flanked by four dragons...the two inner dragons have their mouths open and the two outer have their mouths closed. These dragons symbolise the Naxi people...the two outer dragons have their mouths closed and are the females because they work all day from dawn till dusk in the home and the fields and don't have time to talk. The inner dragons are the men who talk and smoke all day, fly their birds and are supported by the women. Well at least that's what Lily tells us ..and she should know because she is married
to a fat, lazy Naxi man!
The gardens and grounds are absolutely beautiful here. Again, not a speck of rubbish. The cleaning crew is out in force with brush brooms cleaning the gutters and sweeping the bitumen roads. And the sales people are also out in force. The food is simmering, the bargains are on offer, the birds are singing, the water is running and people are spilling out of every nook and cranny.
And every other stall sells hats! And boy did I need one. After some hefty bargaining we parted with the princely sum of 25 yuan ($5) and I left a very happy tourist. Combined with the yak leather belt that Mac bought yesterday at Tiger Leaping Gorge we are positively SPLURGING. I have to say that the whole shopping thing is just sooo exhausting. By the time you find something you like AND can fit it in your luggage - then go through the process of "civilised negotiation" you really just want to walk away! Oh well, cultural differences.
The Naxi (pronounced 'Nashi' like our fruit ... 'X' in China is an 'sh' sound) museum is our next stop. We have been hearing about the Dongba religion of this
ethnic minority...the lovers' suicides, the hieroglyphic writing (the only pictograph writing system still used in the world today), the village gods, the costumes, the dress and the music. With the exception of the compulsory "shop" we did really enjoy the stories of the museum shared by the local guide Esther.
A quick trip through the embroidery institute (another sales venue) and it was time for lunch. The mandatory banquet feast covered the table and we shared the experience with American, Italian and French-Canadian tourists. And, as a bonus we ordered "coffee". Big mistake ..... And combined with the "cakes" was an experience NOT to be repeated.
We have been viewing Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (the most southerly snow mountain in the Northern Hemisphere) from every angle for three days now so we were excited to finally be on our way in that direction. Tofu expertly navigated the mountain roads to get us through the passport check, past the golf course and through the mountain base villages and their goats to the Eco-bus. It is a bus ride, views of sparkling, crystal cleat blue lakes and a ride in the cable car to the base of the mountain for a walk to Spruce
Meadow. A beautiful walk in the spring sunshine and a goat or two to meet us at the other end.
A walk back (with lots of stairs) and then close up views of the waterfalls and lakes (just a few stairs). We enjoyed it all and after a long day with lots of stops it was back to the hotel for another 6 course banquet that included fish balls and chocko ( how do you even spell that?) dish that was actually very tasty.
Mac has been the poster pinup boy of Yunnan province again today. Three beautiful Chinese girls accosted him outside the museum today - they didn't have a word of English...but he knew exactly what they wanted! A mother handed over her first born...and only child...for pictures at the lake and a young Chinese girl on her honeymoon ditched her husband for a shot with the tall, white foreigner with Chinese eyes and a big nose. And can I tell you that when he doesn't get asked, he sneaks up behind unsuspecting groups and pops up for a photo bomb. It's truly like travelling with a big kid...or worse still a fat, lazy Naxi man who cooks spicy fish.
The Old Town
Mac spies a wisteria and a shop that sells MACA...a herb for men that makes you "very strong"
Getting out love on...on the Marriage Photo Bridge
Lunch with tourists and a yak head.
Heaven help me.
Lily has of course 'decided' what we will see and how long it will take because "we know what Western tourists like". Mac has been trying all sorts of witty comments during the day to try and get Lily to "break out" but so far no luck, although he has hit the spot a couple of times and got a little chuckle happening. Lily is doing an amazing job for us - such a perfectionist and so efficiently organised .... We have absolutely been looked after to the nth degree ...it is just that Lily is sooooo serious and we are just a little flippant and glib.
A typical Lily moment occurred today when we were waiting for the bus. We were marched to the head of the line ... Ignoring the 25 Chinese tourists who were already in the queue with their guide. As the bus approached Lily instructed me to stand beside her in the gateway to block the "queue jumpers". As the bus pulled up, at Lily's urging, we all charged (that's a Chinese tradition...I think they love the push and shove of a good queue). Some of the Chinese tourists ignored the gate and jumped
Getting our goat on
Spruce Meadow at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
the railing which caused a bigger panic from the people behind. And of course we are not really in that big of a hurry so we let them on the bus ahead of us. In fact as I lumbered up the step with Mac dutifully pushing, lifting, hoisting and winching me in from behind, wily, frenzied, agile little Chinese people were ducking under my arms to make a break for the seats. In fact if my thick, hefty thighs hadn't made a natural barrier, I think they would have jumped between my legs. Lily was naturally all arms, legs and elbows and was first on (all 40 kgs and 140 cms of her) and had thrown her body over seats for us. When we were settled, Lily tapped me on the shoulder and told me "You need to be much faster next time." Yeah, right, not a chance. Not gonna happen. Ever.
And trust me, there are enough Lily moments to fill a book. We are loving it....a smile a minute.
It was our last drive with Tofu who heads back to Shangri-La today. Again, sad to say good bye to our Tibetan guides.....and we will miss him cooling the car down
Mac mixing it with the locals
Mac name this place Hanging Rock...he thinks he is sooo funny
by opening all the doors for cross ventilation. Whenever Mac sees this he smartly quips "Tofu has got the air conditioning on for us!" He thinks he is so funny.
Mac commented today that there was starting to be a sameness about the days ... and he's right. We get up each morning to decisions about what to eat for breakfast; we can count on someone to look after us and smooth out every pending wrinkle in our day; we walk (usually up hills and stairs); we hoe into a lunch that is representative of the ethnic culture of the community we are visiting; we walk a bit more (usually up hills and stairs) sometimes travelling in an Eco-bus or lined up with hordes of people waiting to board the Eco-bus; we are given commentary and informed by a local guide from the establishment we are looking through; we are ushered through a shopping option that peddles good quality authentic crafts (in the thousands) made by the local people; we eat dinner ( that invariably includes 6 dishes one of which includes ingredients we have never seen); we finish with a bit more walking and jostling, a scramble for access to the internet and then off to bed! Exhausted.
In the smaller towns (those with less than a million people) there is also a rhythm to the sight seeing. We take a look at the new town, the old town, visit a park, stroll through a museum or temple ( sometimes both), climb a mountain, valley or gorge, visit a local village, have our photo taken because we are white foreigners and laugh because someone invariably asks Mac if he is Chinese.
So yeah, there is a sameness to the rhythm of our days and patterns that we recognise....but every twist and turn in the road presents something new. What a bonus life is .... and we are loving the new rhythm and the new sameness of our days.
Onwards and upwards.
PS starting to wonder about our overnight shared train sleepover. Gosh I hope we don't get to share with the axe murderer of China or the man with 20 chickens in his luggage. We might be okay if they think Mac is Chinese!
Pedometer Reading: 12 343
Temperature: 24 C
@MrsAngell ...a relief that SL is showing up tomorrow...great job you! DJ....you're on..and even the M1 to Gilmour.
@RosEdmunds and @MrsAngell ... Got a little teary girls with your comments ..must be feeling a tad homesick
@Denise...thinking the blue skies will soon disappear as we head back to the coastal cities. When we were in Chengdu I realised that there were some children who had never seen the moon or the stars! The simple little things we take for granted...makes you love and appreciate Paradise even more.
Tot: 1.218s; Tpl: 0.051s; cc: 11; qc: 27; dbt: 0.0169s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb