Spruce Meadow

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August 14th 2005
Published: October 1st 2017
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Geo: 26.8767, 100.234

Could sleep in a bit today. Raining a bit when we started out towards our tour, but it began to clear soon and the rest of the day was lovely - partly sunny and cool.

Our first stop was a monastery/village/palace known for its murals (Baisha murals at Dabaoji Villlage). We began in the old palace - the site of the old ruling family. We were by ourselves, and it was very pleasant. I bought a dongba scroll (which says, "There are no boundaries to education. It requires lifelong learning." ). I will frame it and hang it in my office at work.

The murals were very hard to see - the room was dark (and at that point was very crowded) and the murals themselves were covered in centuries of ash from the joss sticks. Of what we saw, they looked well done, but not particularly interesting.

After the murals, we visited a small village; local Naxi homes. The kids were given the opportunity to grind corn and draw water. The Naxi are also known for their needlework, so we bought a beautiful piece of a woman brushing her hair.

Next, we went to another temple - Yufeng - Tibetan Buddhist (This region is close to Tibet; lots of influence). Keegan befriended a cat and stayed with it while the rest of us went to the highest level to view the inter-twined Camilla trees. Okay view - it beganto clear as well.

We had lunch at a giant tourist restaurant. Food was not very good, but at least every other diner suffering with us was Chinese. (It tells a lot about tourist infrastructure of China that most Chinese appear to travel in giant bus tour groups.) The loos were very foul, so we declined to use them.

After lunch, we drove further up the road towards the ski lift to Spruce Meadow. There was a fairly long wait (10-15 minutes) for the ski lift.

The view back down the mountain was lovely. There is a glaciated lake behind a dam - true turquoise. Also, we could see the glaciated rocks near the summit of the mountain (but no summit itself).

The top of the ski lift is at 3200m elevation. One is then forced to walk along a boardwalk with all the thousands of other people who have taken the lift. Very disappointing.

But our guide said we could go off the forest to toilet - so we did (and, so, from the rubbish, had many other people). After a while, our guide joined us, and said we could try walking through the woods. It was much nicer - we were utterly alone - and we began to see many varieties of mushrooms. Our guide started to pick them - "This can eat. This cannot." - until her hands were full and she recruited Kyla to help her.

We were finally forced to rejoin the trail. There were many vendors - mostly renting ethnic costumes for tourists to be photographed in. The boardwalk circled Spruce Meadow (with a lovely view of the mountains, though we could never see the peak) - and along the first bit of the circle were photographers, with computers in kiosks. They would take your photo and print it out. We wondered, too, if they could superimpose your image over a photo of the mountain on a perfectly clear day.

There is a clear outer part of the ring, clearly the road less traveled, so we took it. We were still with a couple of families, but, after a while, we lingered and let them pass. Then we were alone - esp. since our guide had remained behind to try to find a bag for her mushroom haul.

A herd of black and white yak (very cute) crossed our trail, and we could hear their bells for much of our walk. Charming,

Finished the walk along the boardwalk - in the sunlight. Long line to go down - I spent time emailing friends since Paul could get data reception even high on the mountain. Very lovely trip down - the mountain is nicknamed "Love Mountain" since the story says a couple - forbidden by their parents to marry - committed suicide rather than be forced to marry others. So lovers ride the ski lift and toss hearts on strings into the trees. Given all the hearts dangling from the trees, there must be a lot of forbidden love in Lijiang.

We stopped briefly by the glacier for photos. Someone has built a mini version of the cascade pools that we know from Capadoccia but also exist in Northern Sichuan - tourists, dressed in rented ethnic costumes, ride yaks into the middle of the river for photographs. (Again, all tourists appear to be from China.)

During the drive home, our guide offered to sing the folk songs of the area for us. She burst into that nasal, high-pitched voice of Chinese opera - almost scaring the driver, who gave her the funniest look. I smiled politely, while the kids buried their faces and giggled uncontrollably.

One more stop on the way home - required. We visited the "Spirolina" factory - government-sponsored, of course. As far as we can tell, they make a protein supplement. In their brochure, they claim lots of medicinal properties, but our host kept saying, "It's not medicine; it's nutrition." It was high in protein but little else. It was also very expensive (350 yuan for a supply that might last a couple of months.) We did our duty and fled as quickly as possible.

Back at the hotel, we rested for a while, then went out (by ourselves), to the Ancient Town. We found a "French" bakery and bought (very good) baguettes for the children.

We climbed the hill (Lion) to the new pavilion or tower. There was a bit of a view - better view of the new city than of the old town. Still, it was a nice climb.

Had dinner at a place in a street we had not before visited. Part restaurant, but also it had a book exchange. The pizza was fairly good, as was the apple strudel. Unfortunately, Keegan started feeling poorly again, so I walked him back to the hotel - giving, believe it or not - directions to a couple of backpackers (American and Japanese, is my guess) along the way. Then I returned for dessert.

The old town is beautifully lit at night - soft lights in the willows, and on the stream - the pavilion and tea houses on the hill are well-lit, too. It was a lovely evening, so we walked around,, finally finding a CD of Naxi music - and an instrument - for Alan.

Had to all asleep to the sound of Naxi singing. Would not have been too bad ... except they keep singing the same song over and over.

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