Deqin, Yunnan: Pilgrimage to the Meili Snow Mountain

White stupas overlooking the Meili Snow Mountain, Deqin, Yuunan, China (2012)

White stupas overlooking the Meili Snow Mountain, Deqin, Yuunan, China (2012)

August 16, 2012

Attraction List:

  • Meili Snow Mountain: 5-6 hour (8+ kilometer) hike to Mingyong glacier (August 16)
The mountainous region of Deqin county in Yuunan, China (2012)

The mountainous region of Deqin county in Yuunan, China (2012)

The journey to the Meili Snow Mountain took us on a long drive up the winding, mountainous roads of Deqin county.

The rocky road to Deqin, Yuunan, China (2012)

The rocky road to Deqin, Yuunan, China (2012)

Fair warning though, the roads are undeveloped and rocky. Thankfully, we had a skillful driver who can drive along the narrow road barely wide enough for two cars to pass.

View of Dequin from the hotel, Yuunan, China (2012)

View of Deqin from the hotel, Yuunan, China (2012)

After the long drive, we reached our hotel, where we were able to rest and wash up for dinner. Then, we took a stroll along the white stupas overlooking a gorgeous view of the snowy mountains. Continue reading

Shangri-La, Yunnan: Paradise and the Search for Enlightenment

Climbing to the Songzanlin Lama Temple outside of Shangrila, Yuunan, China (2012)

Climbing to the Songzanlin Lama Temple outside of Shangri-La, Yuunan, China (2012)

We have reason. It is the entire meaning and purpose of Shangri-La. It came to me in a vision long, long ago. I foresaw a time when man exalting in the technique of murder, would rage so hotly over the world, that every book, every treasure would be doomed to destruction. This vision was so vivid and so moving that I determined to gather together all things of beauty and culture that I could and preserve them here against the doom toward which the world is rushing. Look at the world today. Is there anything more pitiful? What madness there is! What blindness! A scurrying mass of bewildered humanity crashing headlong against each other. The time must come, my friend, when brutality and the lust for power must perish by its own sword. For when that day comes, the world must begin to look for a new life. And it is our hope that they may find it here.

Lost Horizon by James Hilton (1934)

August 14-15 & 17-18, 2012

Attraction List:

  • Tiger Leaping Gorge (August 14)
  • Shangri-La cultural show (August 14)
  • Songzanlin Lama Temple (August 15)
  • Shudu Lake and natural park (August 17)

After saying our farewells to Lijiang, we continued on our journey along the Tea and Horse Road (Southwest Silk Road) toward Shangri-La— the closest city to the China-Tibetan border.

Farmland and country homes on our way to Shangri-La (2012)

Farmland and country homes on our way to Shangri-La (2012)

Our ride took us between the Jade Dragon (Yulong) Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain to the Tiger Leaping Gorge.

 

Tiger Leaping Gorge between the Jade Dragon (Yulong) Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain (2012)

Tiger Leaping Gorge between the Jade Dragon (Yulong) Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain (2012)

Standing on the viewing deck, the rough water currents in the narrow gorge roar like a thousand tigers charging toward you. The energy of the water is a reminder of the great strength of nature. Continue reading

Lijiang, Yunnan: City of the Naxi

City square of Lijiang Old City, Yuunan, China (2012)

City square of Lijiang Old City, Yuunan, China (2012)

Attraction List:

  • • Black Dragon Pool (August 12)
    • Old Town Lijiang
    (August 12)
    • Naxi Dongba Cultural Museum
    (August 13)
    • Baisha Village and murals
    (August 13)
    • Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and yak meadow
    (August 12-13)
    • Suke Ancient Town
    (August 13)

The car made its way into the northwest plain of Yunnan province. Lijiang the ancient city—home to the Naxi people—sprawled across the plain is flanked by a snowy monolith known as the Jade Dragon (Yulong) Snow Mountain. The mountain range comprises of 13 peaks that symbolize the 13 swords used by the Jade Dragon to fight a notorious fiend in a well-known legend.

Black Dragon Pool, Lijiang, Yuunan, China (2012)

Black Dragon Pool, Lijiang, Yuunan, China (2012)

In Lijiang, there are many scenic parks nearby the city to take strolls. One famous park is the Black Dragon Pool, where pagodas flank on both sides of a calm stream. Undoubtedly, a place meant for relaxing. Continue reading

Dali, Yunnan: At the Crossroads of the Silk Road

Erhai Lake in Dali, Yunnan

Erhai Lake in Dali, Yunnan

In ancient times, many western travelers on the Southwest Silk-Horse Road made their way to the city of Dali. Imagine walking through the bustling streets of stalls selling many exotic goods and the mingling of languages in the background. It was undoubtedly the pinnacle of international trade and influence. Today, the primary industries of the city are agriculture and tourism. According to our tour guide, Hao, the city is picturesque at all times of the year.

August 11, 2012

Attraction List:

  • Bai people’s village: Tie-dye cloth, wax, tea ceremony, and marriage ceremony
  • Yao people’s village: Happy Embroidery school
  • Commoner bird fishing on the Erhai Lake
  • Three Pagodas of Chongsheng and Reflection Pond

The Bai people are the predominant ethnic group in western China (mainly Yunnan province). We had the opportunity to visit an authentic village, where the Bai people are known to produce tie-dye cloth, wax, metal works, and tea leaves. Our first stop was at the tie-dye cloth makers.

Tie dye equipment in the Bao people's village, Dali, Yunnan

Tie dye equipment in the Bao people’s village, Dali, Yunnan

The cotton is first spun into a reasonably-sized piece of cloth. Then, a basin filled with the deep blue-indigo dye is prepared; several colors are also available too but the blue is the most popular. The cloth is then bunched together and tied together with bits of string before soaked in the dye. After several hours, the cloth is taken out of the basin, untangled of the string, and hung on a clothesline to dry. The end result is a beautiful cloth that is often used to make blankets, table cloths, dresses, handkerchiefs, and more.

Beautiful cloths in various patterns and designs dyed in rich colors, Dali, Yunnan

Beautiful cloths in various patterns and designs dyed in rich colors, Dali, Yunnan

During our time in the village, we were able to understand more of Bai people’s lifestyle. Women dress in colorful, flowing dresses spun from handmade cloth and wear headdresses of silver with tassels or a hair ornament. Unmarried, young women would have two white tassels. If a man were to touch one of her tassels, it signified that he wished to marry the young lady. Married women do not wear tassels; instead they have their hair bounded up in a modest hairstyle. Continue reading

Kunming, Yunnan: City of Flowers and Poetry

Panorama of Kunming (courtesy of BMCL)

Panorama of Kunming (courtesy of BMCL)

After touring the Sichuan province, we made our way to Yunnan province located in the western part of China. In ancient times (circa 2nd century B.C.E.), Kunming was one of the main stops along the Southwest Silk Road that spanned from X’ian to India. Today, it is the home of more than 26 ethnic groups—the largest being the Bai people.

As the “City of Eternal Spring,” Kunming has flowers blooming all-year-round. Every day the bustling flower market opens at 3-5AM, during which many businessmen bid, buy, and sell local flora. More than 40 floral species are grown in the Yunnan province to be used as essential oils, a profitable enterprise.

Attraction List:

  • Bamboo Monastery
    (August 10)
  • Golden Temple (August 19)
  • Stone Forest (Shilin)
    [August 19]
  • Dynamic Yunnan song and dance show
    (August 19)

August 10, 2012

Golden rhinoceros relief symbolizes the founding symbol of the Bamboo Monastery, Kunming

The founding symbol of the Bamboo Monastery, Kunming

Our first stop in Kunming with our guide, Lulu, was a visit to the Bamboo Monastery.

Legend says that two royal brothers pursued a white rhinoceros into the Yu’an Mountain, where the animal vanished. Instead of the rhinoceros, the brothers beheld the sight of six monks holding bamboo walking sticks.

Upon seeing the two brothers, the monks vanished leaving behind their sticks in the ground. The following day a bamboo forest grew in their place, marking holy land. In reverence for the land, a Buddhist temple was built in the monks’ honor.

Bamboo Monastery, Kunming

Bamboo Monastery, Kunming

In truth, the Bamboo Monastery was established in 1280 (Yuan Dynasty). This monastery is famous for 500 lively, colorful Buddhist arhats (luohans) by artist, Li Guangxiu, from the 1880s (Qing Dynasty). Continue reading