From Lijiang to ZhongDian
Fondest memory: 12Sep2003 (Friday), I took the 10:30am bus from Lijiang to ZhongDian, 6 hours ride, price 33 Yuan. The bus was bumpy, everybody sqeezed together, as usual when taking minibus in China, we didn't have space to stretch our legs. On this public bus were a western "tour group" going from ZhongDian to Tibet. I was shocked when I know that they actually pay about 13,000 Yuan for the 17 days tour, and they were actually taking the public bus!!! And staying in cheap guest houses!!! And these people still think that it's a GOOD DEAL!!!
Landslide along the way
Fondest memory: After about 2 hours drive, the road started to be bumpy. From this photo, you can see rocks fell at road side. I guess there were landslide few days ago. And there maybe possible landslide again on rainy days. Thankfully, no rain on the morning I travelled. We were stucked for 15 mins here, gave way for a small car which was trying hard to pass through the rocks. Learn a lesson: For safety reason, DO NOT hire taxi / car on this road, at least a size of Jeep / van, otherwise you'll have trouble!
Fondest memory: A normal scene when travelling in China, there are always street vendors trying to sell you food and drinks on the road. Here, fresh boiled corn from the farm, sweet and tasty, only cost ONE Yuan. You'll never get hungey on the road. I never need to open the Power Bars I brought along.
It's SO... Tibetan!
Fondest memory: Settled down & shower, I took a short walk around ZhongDian city. It's a small city which you can finish by foot, well, with a bicycle will be definately better but too bad I don't know how to ride a bike! Although ZhongDian is belongs to Yunnan Province, but everything here is so Tibetan. At this round-about, words are written in Tibetan. I just love this Tibetan touch, as if I was in Tibet where is still on my travel wish list.
Song Zan Lin Monastery
Fondest memory: Second day morning, 13Sep2003, I took bus #3 to this Tibetan Monestary. Located 5 km away, less than 30 mins by bus from ZhongDian city, this is the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan province, as well as one of the 13 large lamaseries in the KangZang region (the joint area of Tibet, Sichuan and Yunnan).
Ethnic Minority Sheep
Fondest memory: I picture this little sheep outside the Monastery. She is wearing a lovely furry hat, quietly posting in front of me. As soon as I pick up my camera, a boy shouted across the road asking for money. He claimed that this sheep belongs to his family, that I should give him money as compensation for taking the "soul" of this sheep.
Fondest memory: A few stalls down, I smell something really nice... Guess what? Deep Fried Spicy Potato. After I paid for my One Yuan stick of potato, these boy told me that they actually charge 0.5 Yuan for locals, tourist have to pay double, and if I want to buy drinks I can buy them at 50% off at local price... blablabla... They were actually local gansters, local Tibetan, their parents' food stalls were facing strong competition, that outsiders were opening new business here as number of tourists grown. This shop owner was from SiChuan, that's why they were here to disturb the business.
Back Street Goats
Fondest memory: I walked into this local village, a road down the Monastery. These buildings all very original, they were built by clay, cemat and wood in Tibetan style. These 2 goats were following me all they way, like a security. I turned left, they turned left, I walked right, they walked right. When I speed-up, they'll run, and slowed down when I did. Funny enough, maybe they thought they were security dogs?
Where is Shangri-La?
Favorite thing: "Where is Shangri-La?" This is a popular question when travelling in ZhongDian. Actually, Shangri-La is the new name of ZhongDian, it refers to the whole ZhongDian area, some even included Lijiang. In order the promote the tourism in this area, they put up a big "Shangri-La" sign here facing this meadow near to the Monastery.
Fondest memory: These people (including my taxi driver) were trying hard to sell me the horse ride (more commission maybe) and forgot to sell me the entrance ticket. I don't like riding horse on a fixed path, I wanted to have a walk by myself to explore the place. I was hoping to see a lake surrounded with mountains and birds, surprisingly, all I could see are moist meadows, horses and tourists. I kept walking to the direction where I still believe I can see a lake... my shoes are covered with mud... ... and more mud... ... ...
Bai Shui Tai (White Water Terrace) - Part I
Fondest memory: OK. Here is the second security check on the way up to BaiShui Tai... These kids were playing in a corner. They ran to me immediately when they saw me, asking "Do you want to see Naxi dance?" "Do you want to hear Naxi song?" "I don't have money to go to school, I want to study" Begging for money. There's an American Chinese tourist beside me, he told these kids straightly in a teacher's tone, "Go home to study, do your homework, do not stay here to beg money. What do you think you can do begging money here? No use! You must study, contribute to your country, and give good life to your parents..." It lasted for more than 15 mins until these children could not stand & ran away. Not finished yet, when he walked down from the terrace, he spoke to the street vendors, "Who are these kids parents? Do not ask them to stay here, go home, study, you want them to beg money forever? Go study and serve the country in the future!" I was trying to ignore him as well, I started ask for my opinion, and he'll never finish this topic then.
Bai Shui Tai (White Water Terrace) - Part II
Fondest memory: Finally, I am here!!! YooHoo...... This is SO BEAUTIFUL! 2,380 metres above sea level, mountains, clouds at the back of this yellow terrace, simply breathtaking. Most likely, we were the first group of tourist arriving here, only 4 of us, very quiet & peaceful! The water is cool and clear, there're tiny wires surrounding the terrace so that people cannot walk on it. Instead of white color, the stone was yellow. An old man told me that it will turn to pure white color in winter, while remains yellow in summer / autumn time.
Check out my Travelogue for more photos.
Local daily life
Favorite thing: Street scenes while walking around the town on early morning: this has been my favourite thing in Zhongdian.
People in local dresses ging to the temple, going to the market, washing clothes, it just appeared as a peaceful mountain town, not as a tourist spot, at least not yet.
Fondest memory: Women meeting together at the fountain near the temple to wash clothes it was so nice to see people living their town, I was even more impressed as in Italy some twon forbid even to eat in the squares or to drink a beer or even, for some events they forbid to dry clothes outside of the balcony because it ruins the image of the city, as if it's something to show to tourists instead of a place to live in.
As a tourist I prefer much more to be able to see how people live instead of an empty clean square where you are only allowed to take pictures.
- Arts and Culture
Favorite thing: When the travel is more important than the final destination.
I absolutely loved Zhongdian, but the trip to there was breathtaking.The road is not the best one and it gets worse and worse while going up, when finally, once a few kilometers from the town, everything becomes flat, green and red fields full of yaks and horses.
Fondest memory: The car that stops to let yaks cross the street.
- Road Trip
Favorite thing: The best time to visit the Monastery is in the morning, where you can see little monks having their lessons. By noon, many of them will come out to the "playground" for their "recess". My camera did not have a chance to rest! In this photo, this monk is cusriously watching some art students doing their paintings of the Monastery.