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Published: August 24th 2012
CHINA: Liming...1,000 Tortoises Running with the Lisu.
Liming...with three sunrises each day and the largest and best developed Danxia geological landforms in China...not on any of my maps and not mentioned in my Lonely Planet Guide. Welcome to China's Best Kept Secret.
It is in the area of the three parallel rivers that sweep out of Tibet.
The sign describes it thus:
"Elevated at 2,300 - 4,200 and covering an area more than 1,500 square kilometers the Danxia landform in Liming and Liguang is the best example of alpine Danxia landform featuring peculiar peak - clusters, precipitous escarpments and beautiful valleys.
Developed in Tertiary red sandstone, this Danxia landform is the combination result of regional uplift, glacier excavation, river erosion and surface weathering over tens of million years."
It is also the home of the LISU...one of the smaller groups of minority ethnic peoples in Yunnan.
The Lisu are a peaceful people...forced into the mountains by more aggressive ethnic groups in ages past...such as "the black Chinese" the Naxi...now living on the side of precipitous slopes...accessed by narrow walking trails...items for living and building...all carried up there by hand...by Lisu in single file...or
crossing rivers by zip-line.
A few hours drive from Lijiang in Yunnan Provence...75kms north of Shigu...near Laojun Mountain...only accessible to tourism since they sealed the road several years ago .
Entering this area you can feel it in the air you are entering somewhere special...the scenes like an oil painting...in reds, browns, blues and greens...brush lines etched in the rock...delightfully Chinese...delightfully unique.
And my vote for the most imaginative collection of place names in China including:
Pillar of Love a Spaceship ready for Launch;
Ten Thousand Year Wait (I guess the bus is always late or maybe no bus...ever!);
Five Finger Peak;
Stone Monkey to Heaven;
Double Humped Camel;
Laojun Magic Mirror;
God Birds with Colourful Background;
Laojun Immortality Hill Furnace;
Fendong's Stone Heaven Eye;
One Line up to the Sky;
Through Cave Tranquil Path;
Nature's Magic Paintbrush;
and where we are going...One Thousand Tortoises Running.
So lunch in the Village of Red Stone Street...all shapes of mushroom with pork and greens in a stir fry...with snake wine...seemed rather appropriate.
A wooden village among red bluff peaks...as the sun
emerges from behind a peak...there is a new day...until it disappears behind another...then another new day...hence three sunrises.
We are to climb that red bluff over there...only 2,600m...by horse suggested.
To support the Lisu economy I had to bargain hard for mounts for Denise & I...the asking price prohibitive...but eventually we agreed...and saddled up.
Along narrow valleys...steep red escarpments on either side...reminded me of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales...but these were red not yellow sandstone.
And when we started to climb...incredibly narrow tracks...on occasion very steep...on the back of a horse...hairy hanging on...nimble horses...bizarre angles.
Then the last bit on foot...phew...views up here breathtaking.
The peak is a sacred place to the Lisu..."One Thousand Tortoises Running"...the rock formed like heaps of tortoise shells...with a well placed sign near the edge warning one to not jump past that point!
And joining us...the village dog...the littlest Lisu (my opening pic)...followed us all this way...and then all the way down!
A couple of Lisu up here with traditional guitars...encourage them to play for us...kinda surreal and enchanting.
Time to go down...me imagining the reverse of the angles on horseback that we had
coming up...no way I'm riding down...don't worry I'll pay anyway...Den to ride down...she's fearless...but me on foot.
So as not to be pressured onto horseback...I ran ahead...and just ran and ran.
I ran all the way to the bottom...and I've got to say it was fantastic...crisp Eastern Himalayan mountain air...incredible scenery...exhilerating.
So when you are next in Lijiang...take a day trip to Liming...with the Lisu.
You'll be glad you did.
Relax & Enjoy,
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