CHINA - Ancient Towns & Villages - October 2019


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Asia » China
October 19th 2019
Published: October 20th 2019
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LEAVING KUNMING



We left Kunming and boarded our bus - the journey was going to take up to six hours, depending on traffic, heading up into the mountains but it would give us an opportunity to watch the world go by. We were lucky we were such a small group of nine and of course Helen our National Guide so there was plenty of room on the bus and we could all spread out. Water was available on the bus and you could buy three small bottles for 10 RMB.



We drove through several small villages and a few larger towns the traffic was quite light which was good. In the small edged fields we saw local people tending their crops, mainly with hand tools, we did not see any tractors or other farm machinery just a few hand ploughs. The small fields were not designed for heavy machinery but for farmers working with their hands and some fields had a large labour force tending the crops. We saw mainly crops of corn and rice both of which were ripe and ready to harvest as well as quite a number of fields full of tobacco plants. I would not have known what this was but Trevor our NZ friend was a farmer and used to grow this crop at his home farm in NZ. He pointed out the plants to me through the bus window and detailed how he farmed tobacco for many years before it went 'out of fashion’ and he then changed his crop for a variety of different fruits. It was a hard life but he enjoyed it and I think those older farmers here probably enjoyed their life in the country and did not want to live in the hectic cities in China.



MINORITY VILLAGES



China is an ethnically diverse country, with 56 officially recognised ethnic minorities living alongside the majority Han Chinese, who make up more than 90 percent of the nation’s population.



An ethnic minority is a group of people who differ in race or colour or in national, religion, or cultural origin from the dominant group which is often the majority population of the country in which they reside.



Heading into the countryside we passed by several Yi Ethnic Minority villages set within the valleys and small hamlets on the steep hillsides. The Yi people are the largest ethnic group in the Yunnan Region and is one of the most ancient ethnic groups in China, dating back to over 3,000 years.



Historically, most Yi people lived scattered in less developed mountainous areas, while others lived in the flatlands or valleys. This was an idyllic setting, beautiful scenery, a pleasant climate, and an abundance of natural resources that allowed for a lifestyle in harmony with nature and rich culture to develop independently.



The Yi developed their own religion, called Bimoism which deified ‘gods of nature’ as well as their own ancestors. It takes its name from the bimo, shaman priests who are also masters of the Yi language and scriptures and who wear distinctive black robes and large hats.



We were informed by our local guide that even today, the ‘ancestor worship ceremony’ is their most important religious practice. The entire extended family gathers, and in many cases sacrifices all of their possessions to the gods in this ceremony.



Sadly for many of these minority people, their traditional way of life is on a rapid decline. Young men leave for the 'bright lights' of the nearby cities where they can get better paid easier work leaving only women, children, and the elderly in the villages. This loss of the main 'labour force' has resulted in the abandonment of huge areas of farmland, derelict rural houses and destitute villages. Although we did not see much evidence of this as the countryside we did see was always fully planted and well looked after. However China is a huge country and we were only seeing a small part of it and of curse what we were being taken too as well.



Another difficulty for these scattered people is education, because of poor living and working conditions, the number of schools has also declined making it difficult for the population that is left behind to get good tuition. This is also hindered by the fact that many of the Minority people have a large number of children per family so it is harder for these families to afford to educate all of their children - most families only send one child to school, and normally the boys have priority.



We questioned our guide about this as we thought that China’s one-child policy would prevent this, but were informed that the policy did not apply to minority groups. The number of children they could have would depend on the size of the minority group they belonged to and where they lived as well, more children being allowed if one lived in the countryside. We were picking up fast on the very different culture in China to our own in the Western world.



We continued our journey and stopped for a comfort break, finding the washroom facilities really good although not many Western loos but one soon got used to this. It felt good to be out in the countryside again and away from the large cities full of people, and after 5 hours we finally reached our next destination, Dali Ancient Town.



DALI ANCIENT TOWN



I am not sure what I thought these ancient towns would be like but they were nothing like I expected but my first impression of Dali was that it was a good place to visit. It so different from anything else we had seen so far in China and pleasantly so - all of our group loved this little town which felt so comfortable to walk around and was quite quaint as well.



Scenically set in the Himalayan foothills, Dali's old walled town dates back to the early Ming dynasty, 1368 - 1644. People of the Bai Ethnic Minority mainly live in Dali and have their own spoken language but do not have a written one. Under 50 percent of the minority ethnic group in China have their own written language. The word Bai means white, and in the Bai minority group white is considered a sacred colour meaning purity.



Dali lies on a fertile plain between the Cangshan Mountains and Jade Erhai Lake and still retains a wealth of traditional Bai architecture, typified by plain white walls and intricate roof details.



Nowadays, Bai traditional society is one of multiple religious beliefs. People practice Buddhism, Taoism, and also worship local deities as mentioned above.



Although the ancient part of the town was small the rest of Dali town which surrounded it was a lot larger than we had expected and it took a while to travel through to reach the outskirts of the ‘Old Town’.



Before entering the old town we stopped for a lunch break and again we sampled some interesting local foods, all were tasty and well cooked.



MEAL TIMES



We were now getting used to being served around a ‘Lazy Susan’ with our fellow travellers. A variety of different dishes were served individually and placed on the revolving part of a table or countertop to aid in the distribution of food and sharing of the dishes easily among diners.



As mentioned in a previous blog there was always a pork dish usually sweet and sour, a chicken dish, beef dish, several vegetable choices, a large omelette and of course huge portions of rice. Sadly a lot of food was left over as portion sizes were big. It would have been good if the food was a little hotter as most was served lukewarm but one could not fault the flavour and quality.



We were so glad we had our own forks with us as often there were no serving spoons (only chop sticks) and trying to serve out ones own portion with these whilst others were rotating the table was not easy. We always ended up with a messy table cloth and several times our glasses got caught with utensils spinning around .... ... ...



Also we were aware of hygiene issues with the spread of germs eating in this communal way with some people using the chop sticks they put in their mouths to then select food from the central dishes. Which was obviously a concern as lots of us had coughs and colds and other 'niggles' already … … …





CHONGSHENG TEMPLE & THE THREE PAGODAS



After lunch we drove to visit the Three Pagodas located in Chongsheng Temple just outside Dali Ancient City. The Three Pagodas are made of one tall one framed by two smaller pagodas, forming a symmetric triangle. They are built of brick and covered with white mud which make them stand out magnificently above the town looking out towards the mountains.



Facing Erhai Lake, Chongsheng Temple is located at the western border of the Cangshan Mountain. We were informed that the purpose of the Three Pagodas, as so often in China, is to magically guard against natural disasters, particularly earthquakes and floods which sadly often occur. Originally, the Chongsheng Temple was built in the time of the Kingdom of Nanzhao in the 10th century to be near Dali's Three Pagodas, so people call the area ‘Chongsheng Temple and Three Pagodas’.



Temples are always faced towards south or east but never towards north or west which are considered to bring bad luck. Temples are places of worship, similar to Churches and are sometimes called Wats (in Cambodia) or Stupas (when they hold religious objects). Buddhist Temples are most of the time a cluster of buildings, inside an enclosed area - usually you can walk through one and view the next. Inside them you find Buddha statues, bells and offerings brought by people. The term Pagoda is used to describe both temples and stupas. The word pagoda is derived from dagada, the word used for a relic chamber in Sri Lanka.



The tall central pagoda in Dali is 227 feet high and is one of the highest pagodas of the Tang Dynasty, 618 - 907. Called Qianxun it is now empty but previously could be climbed by ladder from inside to the top. This ladder is now broken so we were not allowed inside to climb it which I think I would have given a miss anyway ... ... I think we are done with steps for a while!!



Passing the pagodas we continued along small paths to a lake where we were able to take photographs of the pagodas reflected in the water - a scenic spot to linger. We then proceeded to a series of Buddhist temples each one leading to the next one through the back door as mentioned above.



STROLL AROUND DALI



Later entering the old town we were soon booked into our hotel which is the only hotel in the region designed in the Bai Minority's courtyard style and I must say it was a very relaxing hotel particularly as it was in the centre of the Ancient Town and had a very pleasant courtyard with beautiful maintained gardens.



Later we walked through the courtyard and out into the narrow streets within a few minutes. Well preserved long straight cobbled streets and traditional stone architecture dominated the whole area. The streets were set in a grid pattern so easy to find your way around without getting too lost.



We soon found ourselves walking along Foreigner Street, the central thoroughfare. Most guide books say that this is a popular spot with western backpackers however we did not come across many whilst we were there, it was mainly Chinese tourists and our small group of people. Standing out we were often stopped and asked to have our photograph taken to the amusement of everyone watching. It was great fun communicating and smiling with mobile phones and cameras at the ready and everyone enjoying themselves with this simple pastime - I wonder how many photograph we will feature in around China … … … …



The streets of Dali were lined with tiny shops selling some really good quality items made by the Bai people, colourful silks, cotton fabrics, lots of silverware and jewellery too. Every other shop though was something to do with food and these were always packed with people and most of the foods were cooked in the doorways.



We really loved this ancient town but sadly Paul was taken sick having caught a virus from our New Zealand friends who had caught the same bug from our Australian friend - so it had travelled a 'fair way' by the time it reached him! Of course being in close proximity to each other it was obvious that some of us would catch the same bugs, not withstanding the fact of our 'joint eating' arrangements mentioned above. The next day leaving Paul in bed, which he was really happy to do I headed out with a few of our group to a nearby ancient town.



XIZHOU ANCIENT TOWN



About 11 miles from Dali lies the little town of Xizhou, the name means ‘happy town’ which was quite apt as we saw lots of smiling faces during our visit. A very quiet town compared with Dali but still with a population of about 32,000 people it was surrounded by rice paddies and is mainly known for its well preserved Bai traditional houses.



I did like Dali but much preferred this smaller version with its colourful market the local people many of which in their traditional costumes it was much more authentic. We were left to wander around the market area on our own and it was good to just wander up and down and marvel at the variety of food stuffs on offer although the meat stalls were not that pleasant a place to stay for long. There were so many cuts of meat that I had never seen and really did not want to see again … …. The fruits and vegetables though were all fresh and there was such a huge variety with local ladies wandering up and down the market filling the baskets slung across their backs with selected goods to take home. I have never seen so many different mushrooms in one place, you can only usually find a couple of varieties in the local UK supermarkets! It really was a pleasant way to spend a few hours amongst local people and see them going about their every day chores.



Later our guide took us to a local's ladies home to see how her family lived, the house had a central courtyard where the grandparents were sitting and although we could not communicate with them they smiled and made us feel welcome. Although it did feel strange to be visiting them in their home and I wondered what they thought of us all.



Among the many handicrafts that the Bai people inherited from their forefathers is the tie-dying of fabrics, or colouring cloths. Tie-dying originated from the central plains area in ancient China over 1,000 years ago. The technique in China can be separated in two steps, Tying and Dying. Bai ladies needed a lot of skill and patience to shape the patterns and the results are different for each tie-dye product. The process of tie-dye typically consists of folding, twisting, pleating, or crumpling fabric or a garment and binding with cotton or string, followed by the application of dye(s). The manipulations of the fabric prior to the application of dye are called resists, as they partially or completely prevent the applied dye from colouring the fabric in those areas.



We visited a small outlet run by a local family and had a quick introduction, demonstration and first lesson. I must say I was pleased with my attempt which once home will probably become a cushion cover and continue to remind me of my time sitting amongst the local ladies turning this scrap of plain cotton into a blue and white flower pattern. I did get a lot of help though in getting the knots right. We were also able to purchase a variety of garments and other items all professional made. Most were dyed blue and white but there were other colours too.



ZHONGHE TEMPLE VIA CHAIRLIFT



I was not sure about doing this option on our tour as most of you will know I am not fond of chairlifts/heights etc and having left Paul in bed was going to sit this one out. However our new Australian friend, Phil said he would sit with me on the chair taking us up the mountain and before I realised we were sat on a metal chair heading upwards with our feet dangling over the mountain side - a ski lift really.



As we hovered over a large forested area I was watching for birds but only saw two as our feet dangled over a multitude of stone graves! No, not for people who had fallen out of the chairlift but a burial ground for the local people! One of our group even saw a couple of women digging a grave in the steep forested area. Little motive offerings were hanging in some of the tall trees which must have been thrown our of the chairlift at some distance time.



Once at the top of the mountain there was an impressive view out over the Erhai basin and Erhai Lake way below us. We visited a small temple which had a variety of Buddhist statues and took a short hike around part of the mountain, sadly I did not see any wildlife although apparently there are Red Pandas on CangShan mountain - now that would have been good to have seen.



CHINESE CATHOLIC CHURCH



Back on terra firma we headed back to Dali and later walked around the town where our guide showed us around a Buddhist Temple as well as a Catholic Church hidden down a side alley which we would not have found on our own.



From the outside not a typical catholic church you would find back home but the architecture of this sacred place was a mixture of European and Chinese styles and was truly colourful complete with a golden cross on the top.



Inside it was painted a deep blue with the usual Stations of the Cross around its walls - a 14-step Catholic devotion that commemorates Jesus Christ's last day on Earth as a man. The stations are commonly used as a mini pilgrimage as the individual moves from station to station.



The Catholic Church of Dali was built in 1927 at the request of a French priest. Although the Church was raised to the rank of diocese by Pope Pius XII, it then passed to the hands of the official Chinese Catholic Church that is not recognised by the Holy See.



What an unusual and beautiful church this was, even the Chinese priests had added their own touch by framing Chinese traditional paintings on its walls we were glad that we had been able to visit.



It was time to move on again and most of our group were sad to leave Dali as we all had enjoyed our time here and could have stayed much longer.



SHAXI ANCIENT TOWN



Sadly we only had a couple of hours in Shaxi Ancient Town on our way to Lijiang. The two main ethnic groups of Shaxi are the Bai and Yi people mentioned above.



The village of Shaxi is mainly a pedestrian old town, with some newer parts which have been built on the outside. It is pleasant that no cars or electric bikes make their way into the cobblestone streets keeping its authenticity. Today however local workmen were fixing some of the cobbles and we had to clambered over these roadworks which ran down the centre of the narrow street.



The town was once an important and prosperous stopping hub along the Tea Horse Road - an ancient trade route that ferried caravans of pure tea from the south of Yunnan into Tibet, Nepal and Burma as well as other parts of China.



With the decline of the ancient Tea Horse Road, the town was forgotten and even today has not been commercialised like many other ancient towns in China. Many of which have lost their appeal and character which we were to experience later in Lijiang.



Many of Shaxi’s historical sites have been well preserved including the Ancient Opera Stage Theatre and Sifang Street, the only existing market on Tea Horse Road - sadly the market was held on a Friday so we missed it. We did though have a pleasant lunch in a local restaurant which was rather tasty. We were fortunate as we were being taken to many local restaurants serving traditional foods on this journey and not sampling Chinese meals in our hotels. The little hotel food we had eaten was nowhere near as tasty as the foods in these local towns served by local people with many dishes unique to a particular area. Other touring groups we had met complained about the food they were being offered as they were only experiencing hotel cuisine.



We had time to stroll around this ancient town and stopped at Yuxi Bridge which was really scenic - just what one would expect from an old stone bridge across a beautiful river. It was amazing to see that the bricks on the bridge had become pitted because of the long-time trampling of thousands of pedestrians and livestock over hundreds of years. We walked across the bridge and along the other side of the river where a local man was ferrying a couple of goats to market and then headed back into town across another bridge but this one was just made of wooden planks that swayed as one walked across . … ……



Apparently this scenic and peaceful village receives surprisingly few visitors and we did not see many other tourists whilst we were here so we were lucky that this was included in our tour.



On our way back to our bus we came across a group of schoolchildren let out for lunch and had fun with them as we all tried to manoeuvre around the ‘roadworks’ much to the amusement of the workmen still fixing the cobbles one by one.



Apart from the obvious dust from the roadworks the town itself was clean and pristinely well preserved, really reminiscent of a bygone era in China. A lady was sweeping the road, we were to see many people sweeping roads (by hand with broom and pan) in China even on some of the main busy roads. What we saw of China was indeed very clean, we hardly ever saw any rubbish on the streets, so utterly different to our experience last year in India. This lady was trying to pick up a plastic bag floating in the wind and I managed to trap it under my shoe, much to her amusement and she happily posed for a photograph as I had helped her with cleaning up the already clean street!



We loved it in this ancient town, much smaller than Dali which we had also liked, it had a great ambience to walk around as well as being blessed with surrounding countryside - so tranquil and authentic. We saw lots of local minority people in their traditional dress selling fruits and vegetables which was what we had expected and hoped to see in these ancient towns in China.



Before departing we stopped to sample some local sweets a lady was chopping on a small side table in the street. You were usually offered a sample before you bought and these were really delicious and Helen brought a huge bag for us all to share.



LIJIANG ANCIENT TOWN



So we arrived in Lijiang and what a disappointment this ancient town was. We headed into the centre of the old town and its multitude of narrow streets were swamped with mainly Chinese tourists as well as brides and grooms posing for photographs. Together with hundreds of touristy shops selling much the same thing every few yards it was not what we were expecting at all. Our local guide had told us that it was known as being 'too touristy' and he was not wrong - not sure why WW included this on this tour of China!



We were however blessed with seeing the town covered in flowers from the 70th celebrations and these were indeed very colourful and their perfume hung in the air. That being said what one could see amongst the throng of people of the original Naxi style architecture with its scenic waterways was a great disappointment.



We did wander off and came across a few less touristy spots with cobbled streets, stone bridges over the water but on the whole we wish we could have stayed in Shaxi Ancient town rather than here it was just far too busy with not enough space for everyone to be comfortable.



Our guide told us that Lijiang is situated in a ideal location, nestled beneath the snowy peaks of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and that was the main reason we were here as well as to see the Baisha Frescoes which were all nearby - so all was not lost.





BAISHA ANCIENT TOWN AND FRESCOES



Baisha, translates as ‘White Sand’ and was the capital of the Naxi Kingdom. The ancestors of the Naxi people crossed the Jinshajiang River from the Jade Dragon Mountain and entered the Lijiang Basin at Baisha. It was here they set up the first settlement and created their culture - their traditional music, scripture and in the region today.



The Baisha Frescoes are religious works of art produced in the Ming Dynasty. They are rare and very unique as they portray a combination of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, thus depicting the inclusive nature of different religions in China at that time - quite a rare phenomenon.



On the way into a small temple complex where the 55 masterpiece frescoes are housed we viewed some writing of the Naxi people which were simple pictographs and easy to understand their meaning.



We viewed a couple of reproduction frescoes first which were located where the originals used to be. The originals having been moved to a more protected area which we were able to view in the next building but we were not able to photograph these so it was useful to view the reproductions which of course we could photograph.



Apparently these important historic murals survived the cultural revolution as they were covered by a large banner of Chairman Mao which no-one dared touch … … … However, the colours are very faded and there were small sections of damage - some of them had eyes scratched out - but I suppose it is amazing that they survived at all. History lists so many amazing work of art as being destroyed by us humans across the globe and sadly many more today are still being destroyed.



EMBROIDERY SCHOOL



We later walked on towards the ancient town centre located a short distance from the frescoes and stopped at Mu Family Embroidery School where we watched several young ladies making intricate pieces of embroidery to their own designs.



One student was embroidering the Chinese red flag with its yellow stars which was amazing. Some of these works of art take months and even years to complete.



Baisha Naxi Embroidery Institute has developed comprehensive programs to teach younger Naxi generations to retain their traditional embroidery skills. A young girl introduced as a ‘teacher’ with fluent English gave us a brief introduction She said that she was training to become a ‘Master’ herself but to achieve this she had to take an exam but also had to be over 35 years old to do so.



It takes years of training and practice to be able to produce pieces of art that they then sell to support their local community. We were shown into several rooms and some of the work was truly unimaginable, you really thought some of them were first class photographs. You could tell the ones completed by the ‘masters’ though but all of the work was of a very high standard indeed.



We were really impressed with an embroidered image of a Terracotta Kneeling Archer which we had seen in its original form in Xian a few weeks ago. Some of the work was really expensive, and quite rightly so but we did purchase a small one which we will frame at home and hang on our travel ‘memory wall’.



MEETING THE LOCALS



The earliest architecture in this region dates to the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) which was a simple and unsophisticated style. All the traditional old Chinese houses along the cobbled lanes in Baisha still look like part of that ancient period except some of them are now turned into shops for selling arts and crafts to visitors but this does not detract from the glory of this old town.



We were given some free time to wander around the narrow alleyways and I noticed a small courtyard which was full of bright yellow corn. I wandered in with Marlene and Trevor from our group and we were greeted by an elderly man who was spreading the corn out on the floor to dry.



Several huge marrows were standing near a step and in one corner was an elderly lady with some red wool wrapped around her knees and she was winding this up. She got quite tangled and Marlene offered to help her much to her amusement as she seemed to be tackle the knots on her own OK. It gave us all a reminder of a bygone age when as children we would hold the wool on our outstretched hands for our grandmothers to wind.



Trevor helped the elderly gentlemen to spread out a tarpaulin on the floor and we tried to communicate with him. We could see several old grinding machines and noticed several sacks of newly ground corn nearby but we could not make out what he was saying. We could tell that one sack contained ground corn but wanted to know what was in another sack. He kept writing Chinese characters on to his hand but we could not understand what he was saying. We took a video of his ‘signing’ and later asked our guide who said he was actually telling us his age and not what the sack contained . … … … He was only 78 but looked much older, he must have had a hard life but seemed really happy and content.



All three of us enjoyed our short time spent with these two elderly locals and we think they enjoyed our impromptu visit to. Outside their courtyard we met up with Paul and Phil who had been stood on a corner chatting and putting the world to rights! We joined them and watched as several old Naxi ladies wandered up to us in their traditional dress, one lady did not want her photograph taken and we respected her wishes whilst another was posing long before she reached us - but of course wanted some payment but why not we thought … … …





JADE DRAGON SNOW MOUNTAIN



Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is the most southerly snowcapped mountain in the Northern Hemisphere. It is famous for its variant and beautiful natural scenes, and is considered a sacred mountain among the local Naxi ethnic people.



We took a cable car up the mountain to Spruce Meadow located at an altitude of 10,630 feet. Once off the cable car we walked along a wooden plank way and through some ancient forest with some great scenery, it was so peaceful and beautiful.



As we walked along dwarfed by lofty spruces we noticed a couple of birds that we had never seen before. Try as I might to identify them I have been unable to do so. Will have to do further research when I get home and have better access to the internet.



We arrived at a large meadow with the mountains towering all around us. Several Yak were grazing on the grass - what was strange though was that a number of different brides and grooms were posing out on the meadow for their wedding photographs. The brides were changing into various dresses and enjoying their day in the spotlight. We laughed when we saw one groom dressed in a pink suit and posing between the happy couple was a person wearing what looked like a panda bear outfit.



Around us we noticed many people carrying Oxygen cylinders, one man was walking along with two and was just about to light a cigarette so we ensured we kept well away from him! These were being sold at the bottom of the mountain for those venturing up but we were not that high.



Dragon Snow Mountain stretches just over 21 miles from north to south with its highest peak, Shanzidou reaching an altitude of 5,596 meters and this is nestled amongst 13 other peaks. The mountain is always covered with snow and fog, so that it resembles a silver-white dragon from a distance, hence its name.



The summit of the mountain can be seen from the Old Town of Lijiang where we were staying and on one clear day we saw the snow covered mountain from our hotel window.



Th next day we opted out of the WW tour and decided to get a taxi with our Oz and NZ friends to Black Dragon Pool which we all had read about before our trip and wanted to see.



BLACK DRAGON POOL



As there was five of us we clambered into two taxis and were soon at the entrance to the park. We only had to show our passports at the entrance to gain free entry and we were soon walking around a really scenic park and enjoying the quiet and the sunshine. We were ‘leader less’ and it was great to be free of our guides and out on our own once again.



Black Dragon Pool is a lake in within Jade Spring Park located at the foot of Elephant Hill, a short walk north of the Old Town of Lijiang. It was built in 1737 during the Qing dynasty and offers views of the region's tallest mountain, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain which we had visited the day before. We had seen a photograph in a guide book of the ideal location for a good photograph which included the mountain in the background with a white marble bridge and a pagoda in front so we searched the park for its location, which we found but a cloud did cover the mountain top . … … …



We watched locals dancing and singing, children playing and feeding the multitude of fish in the river and we were having a very enjoying morning. We were going to head into the Old Town of Lijiang for lunch at a restaurant we had seen on Trip Advisor, N’s Kitchen which offered western food - we were getting a little fed up of Chinese food, although mostly good we were starting to crave something different.



Sadly Paul quickly developed a very a bad stomach and luckily we found a convenient loo but decided that we had better return to the hotel rather quickly. We were fortunate to hail a taxi within a few minutes and get back to the hotel so left our ‘down under’ friends to enjoy the park. They later told us that they had found the restaurant which actually was in the Old Town of Lijiang and had a very ample enjoyable lunch (PIZZA) - they did not bring us anything back though and I lost a little more weight that day … … … They also said that the old town was less busy than when we had visited and the walk from the park to the town following the river was quite enjoyable so we had probably not seen the best of Lijiang.



MOVING ON





Tomorrow we are flying to Chengdu to see the Giant Pandas, hopefully a highlight of our journey - see you there … … … …


Additional photos below
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22nd October 2019

Great blog. Very interesting and useful. Thank you.
Hi, from Argentina. I would like to know if you travelled using a travel agency and/or on a package. Was it like that? Could you please tell the name? I am planning to go to China but I still do not know when. My interest is on villages and ethnic groups. Thank you. Hugs!
24th October 2019

China
Hello Grace - thank you for your comments. We used Wendy Wu who have a number of tours visiting China with lots of options. You will find them at http://www.wendywutours.ie - Hope this helps - Regards Sheila
23rd October 2019
Catholic Church - Dali

Catholic Church Dali
What a beauty. I have posted this in TB's "Cathedrals, grand churches, mosques & places of public worship" thread in the Photography Forum. Yunnan is full of surprises.
24th October 2019
Catholic Church - Dali

Catholic Church
We were totally amazed with this church too Dave - just love the way the upturned eaves on roof corners made the buildings look so attractive, they are of course the most identifiable part of Chinese roof architecture. The golden cross on the top was remarkable too particularly when I first saw it through the arched entrance. Regards Sheila
23rd October 2019

Ancient towns of Yunnan Province
One of my favourite Chinese provinces because so many minority ethnic groups live and dress traditionally and thrive. Great to hear Dali is still a pleasure to visit but gotta say it saddens me that Lijiang Old Town, the town where lovers go, was too crowded to endure. And that you visited Baisha but the Famous Dr Ho was not there to greet you. You visited some villages that were not tourist traps when we were last there. Fascinating part of China...and seems from your pics that they are still very worthwhile to visit.
24th October 2019

Ancient Towns & Villages
One of my favourite area too and if we return to China one day it will be to see more of this region. All of our group loved Dali even though it was quite large it was a pleasant place to wonder the streets and gaze at the buildings. We really loved Baisha and meeting the elderly couple in the yard but yes sadly we missed the famous Dr Ho who died the year before aged 97 - it would have been awesome to have been able to meet him as well. Sounds like you really love China too. Regards Sheila
24th October 2019

Minority groups
This part of China is really fascinating! Thank you for the descriptions of all the minority groups. I hadn't heard of most of them. I'm not sure how I would cope with the 'double dipping' of chopsticks in the communal dishes :/ But I suppose if that's how the locals eat...there's not much to be done about it. Hope Paul's bug didn't hang around too long. Cheers, Ren
24th October 2019

Minority Groups
Thanks Ren for your comments - Paul cannot seem to shake this bug away but is feeling much better apart from a nasty cough. Just love this area of China and wish we could have had more time here. Regards Sheila
24th October 2019
Wish I could use them as well as this little cutie

Observations
I love natural settings like this. Always good watching the locals.
24th October 2019
Wish I could use them as well as this little cutie

Such a cutie
She was adorable and really enjoying her food - I still cannot use those chopsticks though not through lack of trying ... ...
26th October 2019
Exercise in the park

Love this photo
Great moment you caught there. /Ake
26th October 2019
Exercise in the park

Exercise in the park
Yes the little boy was determined to try and outdo his father ... ... Regards Sheila
2nd November 2019

Wonderful
Wonderful! This seems like rural China at its best! I'm glad you were able to get off the beaten tourist track here, and see some traditional authentic villages. I'm sorry to read of Paul's two illness occasions, not nice when you're travelling. I hope they didn't last long. Your travel "memory wall" at home sounds wonderful, it must be full of beautiful souvenirs and memories 😊
4th November 2019

Glorious China
Thanks Alex and Paul now on the mend and we are planning where to go next!! Regards Sheila

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