Saturday, February 21, 2009

Li Jiang China, May 2008

I just put this album together so I thought I'd go ahead and post it here, in case anyone is following. This is not in order; we went to Beijing before we went to Li Jiang, but this is all so long ago, I figure getting anything up from our China trip would be an improvement. I didn't spend too much time culling photos, so it is pretty long. These are photos of the week we spent in Li Jiang, China, our last stop before returning to the USA May 25, 2008. We were in the Li Jiang area around May 19 - May 24, 2008.

Unfortunately, this trip was so long ago, I've forgotten some of the details. Li Jiang is near Dali in the Hunan Province in the west of the country. It is quite close to Nepal. The area is populated mostly by Chinese minorities, such as the Naxi. The Naxi written language seems simpler and more directly pictorial than the main Chinese written language. The Han are the Chinese majority. I think the Old Town Li Jiang, where we stayed, was absolutely charming, as hopefully the photos will show. Lots of low-priced shopping to be done there, and LOTS of Chinese tourists. There was a definite military presence there as well as this was about the time some issues with Nepal were coming to the forefront again.

We hired a guide and translator, Kelsey, whose English was very good, and a van and driver. We couldn't have gone out and about the way we did without a translator. While there, we visited some nearby small villages. A National Geographic staff member lived most of his life in one of them. We also visited 2 main tourist attractions in the area: Leaping Tiger Gorge and Snow Mountain. We took the tame hiking path at the gorge. The park policemen were stationed all along the walkway and would regularly yell through their megaphones that we were to stay next to the rock wall, a safety precaution against potential falling rocks. At least that is what Kelsey told us they were yelling, and the did motion us to stay next to the rock. At Snow Mountain, it was interesting to see snow as a tourist attraction. I think the area doesn't get much snow in the winter and/or tourists come from other non-snowy regions of China. Canisters of oxygen were sold for those who thought they might need it; the altitude was 4506 meters, which is the highest any of us had ever been. I bought a can but didn't use it. Snow Mountain is popular with newlyweds for wedding photos. We saw 2 or 3 couples doing photo shoots while we were there. They didn't look like they were dressed warmly enough, but hey, I'm not their mom.

The area surrounding Li Jiang is beautiful, with mountains and valleys. Like my impression of most of China, there are surprisingly modern areas and surprisingly primitive ways of living, often closely juxtaposed. The agriculture in particular seemed very primitive. I didn't take a photo, unfortunately, but we regularly saw farmers with their oxen pulling plows in the fields or carts on the side of the roads. Sometimes people were pulling carts. One woman was threshing her grain by throwing it on the road and having the cars drive over it. We were disgusted, however, to see several places where heaps of garbage were just dumped down a ravine next to the road. Judging by the amount of garbage dumped, these may have been "city dumps" for some of the small country villages.

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