China Travelogue: Lijiang part 2
Posted on Jun 28, 2013 by
Forwarded on behalf of Fanny, New York City Lijiang continued.
Since I have 4 ½ days here, decide to take it easy in the morning. I get out around 11 am and the town is quiet. People are out doing their thing, especially around the pools. Laundry is big here as is washing vegetables. The water comes down from the mountains into town in small canals. There are three pools in strategic positions within the canals, throughout town. The first is for drinking water, the second for washing vegetables, and the third for laundry. Shops are gradually opening up, and since I am only walking the main streets meet a few people coming back from the market. Apparently this is the beginning of the Yangtze river. I am on a mission, that is having lunch at the Buddhist temple Anthony Bourdain went to in his Lijiang episode. I do find the temple nestled inside an alley, it looks awfully empty, but I find the outdoor eating area, and am invited to the kitchen to select what I want to eat. I don`t know what I want so I just nod yes to everything she suggests. I then go and sit outside in the garden, watching the roof tops, the water flowing below and truly enjoying the silence. A monk looks in on me every so often, and there is one other man at a table who is joined by 3 others for lunch. Would I say that this is the place where the working men of Lijiang go for lunch hardly. They must have hired a lot of extras for the show.
Lunch comes, I get Naxi bread, started in a dry pan finished on a brick in a wood burning oven, eggs with tomato and scallion, seems a popular dish, had a different version last night, then I get Jidouling Fen. The same kind of cold noodles I had eaten at the market except these were dark grey. Have still not been able to get a recipe, but the jelly is made from Chick peas that grow in this region. They are served with soy sayce, 5 spice powder, hot peppers, cilantro and scallions, totally delish. I devour everything and pay my bill of 10RBM including tea. I walk slowly through town, past the large square with the water wheel towards black Dragon Pool Park. Yet another
entrance fee, but because I have my city card I don`t pay. The park is lovely, there is a Dongba cultural center, which I climb a lot of stairs to reach. Dongbas mean "master
interpreter of scriptures" and in my ignorance didn`t quite understand the significance of the old man and a whole room devoted to paper making and writings. This is what I since learnt . The Naxi are the only ethnic group in the world to have their culture preserved in a textual writing system with images and pictographic characters (sijiulujiu) still in use. The ancient scriptures on paper or wooden boards and scrolls remain in their thousands preserved in libraries and museums worldwide. Of artistic importance are wooden boards with paintings of gods planted in sacred spots in nature or used in ceremonies. We saw the boards used at the performance but didn`t know what the significance was. I continue through the park and stop several times to admire the pool, which is really a lake and the pavilions built around it. There is a large area where people are congregating, at one end there is a stage with musicians on it. I am informed that they will start playing in 15 minutes, and sit down. The sun is shining, an elderly lady is playing the Gu Zheng, a Chinese Zither, old men are shooting the breeze, children are running around. The musicians start to play Naxi music and it is lovely. What a perfect way to spend a few hours. As I am ready to leave one of the old men indicates that his friend is 95 years old. I take pictures and they all think this is great. Walk out the north gate into the modern part of town and follow the line of the old town. It is a big street where many young mothers with small children sit on stools outside their shops. I stop to admire the children, and am invited to sit down and share the baked potatoes. I accept the invitation, but the children got so scared by my looks that I quickly got up. The adults were all laughing, but I don`t need to make Chinese children scared of blonde hair. Have finally realised why I only see children 2 years old, or younger, because the rest are at school. As I continue down the avenue I pass a large statue of Mao Ze Dong it is the only one I have seen so far in China.
Walk back into the old town, now I know what they mean by tourist town. The Yaks are waiting for riders in the main square, the tourists, and tour groups, mainly Chinese are everywhere. I walk on one of the back streets, which is full of restaurants. The kitchen and wait staff are on break before the dinner rush and hang around, smoking and gossiping the way they do all over the world. It is cute seeing the very young boys in their whites and many of the waitresses in minority costumes. I sit down at one place and have a beer, have been drinking more beer here, these few weeks than I ever had before. It really took care of my thirst. The tour groups have discovered this street, I am as much an object of interest as the old houses, time to go back to the hotel.