Wow, it’s December, our DTS has finished, Dan’s working at an outdoors store & I’m working at a video game store (ha!) and yesterday we collected red berries and evergreen branches to decorate the house for Christmas….. but I’m still blogging about CHINA. I need to get a move on!
A bunch of us took a mini 2 day holiday to Lijiang, a tourist-hot spot where part of the city is a maze of traditional Chinese houses. To get there we took an overnight bus. It’s basically a bus crammed catastrophically with bunk beds. We were at the very back next to some Sketchy McSketchser Chinese men. And Dan was vomiting the whole next day from car sicknesses. Brilliant.
Nevertheless, we had fun exploring this charming city where the Naxi people live. They have a the only pictographic language, Dongba, still in use. Every word is a little stick figure or drawing.
It’s a matriarchal society, and in their language when a feminine word is a superlative, and a masculine word is diminutive. For example a “female stone” is a bolder and a “male stone” is a pebble.
We did have some trouble finding a restaurants, though. Of course, being in a big group, no one had a preference until we came across a restaurant, at which point at least 1 person would find a reason it wasn’t good enough. Finally, after more than half hour of looking we decided on a colourful cafe. We went in and got seated and then someone complained about something so we decided to leave (with our stomachs rumbling and our tails between our legs.) Then we saw the restaurant had a rooftop courtyard so we decided to go back in and ask if we could sit there. We got seated (again) and got menus (again) and then waited and waited and waited, wondering what was taking the cafe staff so long since we were the only people in the whole restaurants. Finally someone went to investigate and found the waiter at a computer using a on-line translation service to type out in English, “WE ARE NOT COOKS. GO COOK FOR YOURSELF!” Thankfully at that point we came to our senses and remembered that our Mama, the dear Naxi woman who ran our guest house, cooked up a feast for a pittance. The food was delicious.
The next day we hired bikes and explored some little villages at the foot of Jade Snow Mountain, whose majesty played hide and seek with the clouds. We also visited a rundown Buddhist monastery that had been the largest in the region prior to the Cultural Revolution. The dear old monk was so sweet and eager to show off the English he had learned. “Cup of tea? Cup of tea?” The old part of Lijiang was lucky to escape the Cultural Revolution, but became quite run down until 1996 when the old houses survived an earthquake much better than the new ones. Relief funds helped fix up the run down areas, tourism exploded and now even the newer parts of town are built in the traditional way – quite unusual in China.