Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lijiang, China

Lijiang is pronounced Lee-Jee-Ong, with the "jee-ong" as one syllable.  It is in the Yunnan Province and is home to the Naxi (nah-she) minority people.  On the first day, we went to a popular photo spot at the Yu Quan Gong Yuan (Jade Spring Park).
It was really funny when a man took our picture and presented us with a 5x7" photo that he wanted us to buy.  We were, of course, getting our own photo with our own camera, but we bought his photo because he had "blue screened" us into a photo with the mountains covered in snow and more water in the pond!! 
 The pool is called Heilongtan (or Black Dragon Pool), part of a natural spring which in recent years has dried up.  The hill behind is Elephant Hill.  Our guide told us of the happiest day of her life when she had a picnic with her family at this park, and how sad it is now that the spring is dried up.  There was still enough water in the pond to be impressive and beautiful.

It was lovely to hear this native musician play in such a beautiful spot.

The cherry blossoms are already out!

Longshen (Dragon God) Temple, built by the Naxi in 1737, to the god of rain.

I'm not sure this is him, but the temple was built during the reign of Emperor Qianlong.  Quite an impressive-looking guy!
We went out to the village of Bai Sha (White Sand) where the Naxi people live in the traditional way.  We simply walked through town looking at all the unique homes and daily activities of the people. 
Mahjong game--the people in caps are women.

Me and the woman who embroidered this tablecloth--I love it (and bought it)!
 Notice her little "sleeve protectors".  Everyone in China wears these--all my students in classes, the women in shops, the little children.  They keep your coat from getting dirty on the edges of the sleeves.  They make them in all designs and cute patterns.  She is also wearing a "bib" over the front of her coat to keep it clean. 

Main Street
Native Naxi costume--a woman going to market.

Courtyard homes with wooden front doors.

Narrow alleyways--lots of grey and white coloring

Working woman digging sand

Piglets in a courtyard home

Beautiful woodwork--two stories in the homes.

The red banners are for good fortune, of course

This courtyard reminded me of my Italian ancestors' homes.

We came across a wedding party!!  The groom hands out cigarettes and the bridge peanuts and sweets.  Mother looks proud.

 The back of the Naxi national costume has 7 patches representing the seven stars, meaning that the women work all day.  It is a matriarchal society, and the men are supposed to spend their time talking, and thinking about things and relaxing while the women do all the work.  REALLY!  In a village not too far, the tradition is "walking marriage" meaning a woman can leave her husband any time she wants and find a new husband.  The children belong to her mother, who rules the house!
Isn't this home pretty?

Plucking a chicken--put it in hot water to make it easier.

These women are working construction, carrying baskets of dirt out.

Isn't she a Grande Dame?

Beautifully-embroidered baby carrier!

Car seat?
  Wow,  can you see what an amazing place this is?  I only posted half the pictures I took.  It reminded me of our day in Suji where we just walked among the villagers.  What a completely different world and life than what I know!  The town has a Naxi Academy of Embroidery where the masters are teaching the craft and passing down their experience.  We went to watch the students sewing and then went to the gift shop.  I bought a beautiful two-sided embroidery with Chinese cranes, representing long life and love.  It's so beautiful!
Student of embroidery design.   How do you like her working conditions?
 They had several embroideries displayed from ancient times, including this cap.  Can't see it too well because there's something behind me, but it was very intricate and lovely.
 After lunch, we went to another UNESCO heritage site, the village of Shu He (Leather River) which is much more touristy than where we just went.  There were modern restaurants and shops galore, but the older part of the village was beautiful.  Kirk bought a leather belt, since that's the traditional trade, and it has the 1200-year-old written language characters on it which are quite unique.  The town has a clear, clean, pure stream running through the middle which is quite rare in China!
Some of the wood carvings on the doorways are magnificent!

Can I hold your cute baby?

Yes, that's a hookah pipe on the table at a cafe.  We didn't eat here.

Pretty stream.

This bridge is 400 years old and looks toward a mountain shaped like the ancient Chinese money, yuan bao.  It also leads to Llasa, Tibet, along the Silk Road, where the leatherworkers sold their goods.  So the tradition is, that if you stand on this bridge and have your photo taken with the mountain in the back, you will have wealth.  Oh boy!
Local native costume and pipe.

Fresh vegetables are kept in cool, clear water for display until purchased.  They look so beautiful!

The stream runs right next to the building.

The whole world loves Legos!!  (Even the knock-offs!)

Too bad the malls in America don't warn shoppers like this.

Garden in front; wash day in back.

I wish this bell was for sale.

This is my "National Geographic, Pulitzer-Prize" photograph.  Love it!

Young girls in town in native costume.  Working at a restaurant.

There's definitely more money in this town.  Beautiful place!

The "3-wells system" of the Naxi--the first is for drinking, second for washing, third for scouring.  Smart!!
This village was not so primitive, and musicians were singing at cafes to draw your attention, people were dressed up for the tourists, hawkers were calling to you, and walkways were paved.  It had a different feeling from Bai Sha in the morning.  However, when we next went to the "old town" of Lijiang, it was like going to Disneyland. 
"The Fat Sister's Yak Meat"
If you don't want to eat at Pizza Hut, McDonald's, KFC or Dairy Queen (all of which are in the main square), you can always try the local food.  Would you shop here?  We felt like we ought to try some yak meat, so we got jerky.  It tastes like Scout Camp.  There are other choices, too.

The Yu River is at the top edge of Square

Market, where in the morning, the farmers bring their fresh produce to market.  After a few hours of selling, the people leave and the canal is dammed so that it overflows onto the square.  The water flows down to a channel at the bottom of the square, washing away all the refuse from the market day.  Pretty good system!
Square Market

 Here are the ladies who sold us our jerky.
You can pay this man for a ride on his donkey and a picture.

Narrow alleyways filled with shops in old buildings.

 Take a close look at the open ditch only a step away from the front of this shop.  It's where the water flows into after washing the square.  But if you weren't watching, you could easily fall into it and break your leg!  China does not have an OSHA standard!

However, the tasty fruit crepes made fresh while you wait (and filled with ice cream, too!) are worth the risk of falling in. 
Even though the shop is called the "Octopus Pill", it's delicious!!

This man will let you hold his bird for a price.

Another tasty snack (a fresh strawberry!) by the town creek.

Local sculpture

Da Shui Che (Big Water Wheel) Square
The next morning, we went exploring.  So many fun sights to see just walking around town.
A wedding!!  They use fresh flowers to decorate the cars.

A plumbing truck--Kirk thought his brother would get a kick out of this!

Anything look tasty?

How about this one?

 This is a sight we often see.  People work and live in their shops.  She's pouring out the water she used to cook that pot of rice, I think.  People will also walk to the gutter and pour things in there.  See her sausages hanging out to "cure".  Maybe she's running a restaurant.  And she's working wearing her coat, gloves and earmuffs because it's cold. 
Outdoor hair wash for the little boy.  She, too, is wearing her coat while she cleans him up.
Then we walked up Lion Hill to Wang Gu Lou (Looking to the Past Pavilion).  In front was a bronze bell you could ring for a price--had to try it!

Temple Bell

There is also a drum tower next to the bell tower, and an elaborate entry gate.

More cherry blossoms!
The pavilion was built in 1997 using 16 poles of solid wood from northern Yunnan province which extend all the way up through 4 flights.  There were 10,000 carved dragons in the pavilion (we didn't count them all), with an amazing one in the center at the top.

Roof sculptures

Looking up through all 4 stories.

 The views were beautiful from here, looking down on the old town, across to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, and into the Emperor Mu's Palace.
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

The cypress trees on this hill are 400 years old!  It's a lovely park.

Emperor Mu Family Residence

We walked back down for a last look at the old town and were in time to see the women exercising on the Square Market.

Naxi Square Market Dancers

Costume on a model--beautiful silver!

Lots of the Naxi homes had this "gargoyle" on them of an open-mouthed beast (dragon?).

Interesting wood work.

This is providing the proper "feng shui" for the business.  You must have water in front and mountains in back, so they supply their own water (plus a few discontented koi).

Delivery truck?  (This bed is NOT Chinese--looks much too soft!)
Grocery bag?
Amazing Lijiang--thanks for the memories!
 Next stop: Dali

1 comment:

  1. Daniel is cracking up watching nonny and the bell. He is going around hitting things says "gong".