China Team Journal

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Team 161, Kunming, July 5 & 6 (Lijiang Group)

By Joshua

Photo for Saturday: Yak in the mist at 12,000 feet above sea level

Photo for Sunday: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain reflected in Black Dragon Pool

Saturday in Lijiang started off with a free massage on our way to Jade Dragon Snow mountain. In actuality, it was just our bus driving along a bumpy road. As we got higher and higher into the foggy mountains, the temperature started dropping. Driving along, our guide Tina explained the common Naxi family names. Hé, the same name as our driver, is the name of the common people. Mù is another which is of higher status. We also passed a large field and were told it was a natural airport which in World War II was used by the Flying Tigers. After an hour on the road we arrived at the foot of a chairlift going up to 3700 meters. As we avoided piles of yak dung, making our way around yak meadow, we saw the wonders of Shangri-la, as James Hilton described it in the Lost Horizon. We arrived out of breath at the highest point of our journey, the iPhone still able to get service, the tallest mountain jutting up in front of us. 

After our ears popped once more, Margaret rode a yak, we saw a turquoise river (one of the wonders of Shangri-la), and the rain started. We took a trip to the home of Dr. Rock, an American who left America in the early 20th century to live with the Naxi people. By the time we were done, the rain had begun pouring and we rushed out. We traveled on to a Buddhist temple, which is known for its 1000 flower camellia. Though not in bloom, the tree, actually two trees grafted together, was beautiful and pictures of the two different shades of red flower stunned us all. 

Afterwards we went to see a fresco which was saved in the Cultural Revolution by having chairman Mao’s picture on top of it. On our way out we bargained with the venders for Batik tablecloths. Dinner was delicious pizza at a restaurant near the hotel, and once we were sated we returned home in the now pounding rain.


Sunday morning was spent on our own. Some went shopping in the old city and some went to the Wan Gu Lao pagoda, the tallest wooden pagoda in China. After lunch we went to a Dongba/Naxi museum where we saw pictographs depicting cultural images, a topological map, clothes and other cultural items of the Naxi people including hunting weaponry and their traditional housing. A Dongba in the Naxi culture is the shaman. Still in the museum, we stopped in a shop where there was a living Dongba rewriting the scriptures. Also at the shop they had jewelry, beautiful porcelain, and other such treasures which were for sale from very little to a lot. I bargained my way out of 1400 Yuan on an item that I can’t name in this journal entry.

After this we went to the Jade Dragon reflecting pool, inside a beautiful park and took the perfect picture of the water with a bridge and the mountain jutting up in the distance. It was a beautiful day. Perfect for ending our trip to Lijiang. 

We left Lijiang Sunday night on the shortest flight of my life and returned that night.