Friday, May 3, 2013

玉龙雪山 & 丽江 // Yunnan Days 6-Return

We voyaged a bit further south to the ancient town of Lijiang 丽江  and Jade Snow Dragon Mountain 玉龙雪山.  Our hotel was right in the old town, which was so exciting because we could wander the streets full of Yunnan souvenirs, bright lanterns, and eager vendors until the end of the night.
My friend Caroline has an amazing haggling talents.  She is always able to charm and persuade vendors into the price she desires, even if it takes 20 minutes!  The man here etched these wonderful carvings and since we kept bringing friends back to buy, he liked her even more, telling her to stand behind the counter while he dealt with all the customers!  Based on those few days, it seemed that Lijiang vendors were much more good-natured and genuine than the ones in Shanghai.
Lijiang is an ancient town (city) from the Tea & Horse Trading Road, but in the distance towers Jade Snow Dragon Mountain.  It is positively epic, and the glacier geo-park was the first of its kind established in China with a 5A rating (the best of the best).  We attended Zhang Yimou's (director of Hero, House of Flying Dragons, the Beijing Olympic Ceremonies) 70 minute production of "Impression Lijiang", which told the natural history of Yunnan with the mountain as its backdrop!  Not only were there 400 actors of Naxi, Yi, Bai and  other Yunnan ethnic origins, but also 100 horses, drumming, singing, dancing, a folk tale and love story woven with a soaring soundtrack.  I cried out of awe.  This is merely one of three "Impression" shows that Yimou has produced around China.  If you'd like to read more, read here.
My impression of the Mountain only began there, because then we took buses and a cable car over 15,000 feet to one of the glacial peaks of Jade Snow Dragon Mountain!

Sights of the Lijiang valley below in between the swirling clouds.

I can't lie, the walk up the stairs was tough!  The air was so thin, my body felt tired after a few flights.  Many of the Chinese tourists had oxygen cans to help themselves.  On the way up, we had a snow ball fight and watched tourists in their long red coats body-tobaggen down the glacier!  Too funny. 
The Naxi people named this snow mountain from the way the jagged formations resemble a dragon.

My friends and I made it about 4750 meters before we had to turn around and rejoin the group, because you're not supposed to spend more than a half hour on the peak (we were there for at least an hour).  It was definitely one of the coolest experiences I've ever had.  It felt like conquering the world!

Back at ground level, we had more time to discover the huge ancient town.  It looked a lot like "Spirited Away" at night when the shutters closed and the lights turned off, and we joked about turning into pigs (movie reference here).

The Naxi pictograph writing is supposedly the last of its kind that is actively used, in the world!
Our CIEE Yunnan group.  We had a last lunch together in Lijiang then took a flight to Kunming, delayed a bit during the layover, then flew 3 hours back to Shanghai at 10 PM.  And so my Yunnan adventure came to an end with a stumbling return into my host family's apartment in at 2 AM.  I truly hope I can return one day because there were still so many incredible sights that we didn't have time for.

I am pumped to let you know, though, that I am leaving in the next hour to the airport for my independent spring break!!  Yes, I promise you I actually have classes and homework with CIEE, but it is fantastic to have another week to fulfill our own wanderlust.  I'm vacationing in Thailand with 5 other ladies, where we'll be in Bangkok until Sunday and then the island of Ko Samet for the rest of the week!  We haven't planned a very busy schedule because relaxing is the first priority, but I am sooo excited to finally go to Thailand because I definitely would have opted to study abroad there had I already been to China.  But as it turns out, I have the best of both worlds!

I'll update when I'm back, and I hope you all are doing well!  To my St. Lawrence friends and family, I wish you all the luck and strength during finals week.  I'll try to send the paradise vibes your way.

1 comment:

Donna said...

Another fantastic blog. I would have loved to see those carvings. I think your father would have liked it more. Such wonderful pictures. Keep them coming.