Anthony's Interesting Times 2004 travel blog

More Lijiang rooftops

Naxis and tourists on Lijiang street

The dancing Naxis

Quiet morning leaving Lijiang

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain towering over Lijiang Old Town

Easy day today, most of the morning taken up sorting out next travel stages. Susanna and I both bus to Kunming tomorrow, and then to Shilin Stone Forest the following day, where we go our seperate ways, her to eventually home, me back to Kunming for a night train to Anshun. There has been a lot of advantages to travelling with someone else, cheaper accomodation (I usually have to pay for both beds in a double room) and more varied food, as we can share things the Chinese way. And actually had a really nice lunch today, boycotting all places that said they did Western food, and going to a Naxi place, and having some not bad yak, and some great deep fried goats cheese in pancake batter sprinkled with sugar (it was nice, honest!) and some more great Chinese mushrooms (yum yum, and worth coming here for).

Lijiang is so nice now that the national holiday is over. There are 5% of the amount of Chinese here, and as a result not only is it hugely quieter (and cheaper), but the Westerners really stand out. Today I have honestly bumped into every single Westerner bar two that I met in the whole of the Tiger Leaping Gorge, often round our Guest House, famous for its internet speed and Tibetan laidbackness. It is a beautiful town anyway, but even more so when you can actually see that there are locals who live here as well.

The Naxi are just one of China's 50 minority populations, but one of the more interesting perhaps. They use a pictorial (e.g. heiroglyphic) language, indeed this is the only live such language in use today. They are also a matriarchal society with a variety of interesting customs around marriage, sex, children, etc. And some interesting linguistic features, i.e. that the male version of a word is 'less' than the neutral and the female is 'more', e.g. the words (pictures) for stone, pebble (male) and boulder (female). And they are pretty chilled out. In both the main squares the old women are often dancing. At first I thought they just did this to get money off the tourists, but now I don't think so. They don't get any money, there are several groups of them doing it, and it seems more like a social thing amongst them, with people coming and going, and joining different groups, etc. It is also fun too, as they clearly enjoy themselves.

Later that night we went out with the two Israelis - Yuri and Yuval - and their two girlfriends - Cesca and Megan. It was a hell of a laugh. We had a meal in this quite cool place, and then on the way back there were hundreds of people doing the Naxi Dance in the big square - it being Saturday night. Great to watch. And then we went back again to where we ate, to more the drinking side of the place, which turned into a a bit of a Chinese disco, which was quite surreal and chaotic, with several things going on at once catering for all tastes and ages, all competing noisily and drunkenly at the same time. And now this morning a Naxi breakfast and off to the station to spend ten hours on a bus to Kunming. Travel in china is such now that that does not seem like a long time!

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