Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南
// Day 2: Lijiang 丽江 Prefecture-level city, Yunnan province
#1 Old meets new: Next stop is Lijiang, a historically rich city that harks back to the ancient southern silk route. Located in the northwestern part of Yunnan, more than 1.2 million reside here. The monolithic impression of Han Chinese dominance ends here. The Naxi tribe (totalling 300,000 in total across Yunnan and Sichuan) is rather dominant here. Architecturally, buildings in the old town, relics from the middle ages are largely made of brick and wood, featuring carved doors and brightly painted windows
#2 The Old Town of Lijiang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. No motorised transport is allowed here. This is Sifangjie:, the heart of the old town which once served as a vital hub on the Ancient Tea Horse Road. This street has been the confluence of cultural and economic exchanges in Lijiang since the Ming dynasty. Lijiang, incidentally is home to two of China’s 117 autonomous counties 自治县 that dot China’s landscape, perhaps a lesser known fact than the more famous five ‘chunks’ of autonomous regions 自治区.
#3 Would a developed area be complete without the hyperreal consumer culture of MacDonald’s? It is noteworthy that foreign visitors were a significant minority. My travels around China have revealed its immense domestic market (at solid state a 700 million strong domestic middle class is a market the world has never seen) – something outsiders are ignorant of, simply because 1. they have never stepped foot into China 2. they are informed by shepherding.
#4 As a keen drummer I usually travel with a small djembe in tow. Little did I expect that Lijiang would be a drummer’s haven. The global village at its finest: Djembes made in Indonesia and Africa are a dime a dozen around these parts – passionately played along to traditional hilltribe music burnt onto ceramic discs. I had a terrific time jamming with many shop owners. It was heartening to see such a popular domestic Chinese market for minority sounds.
#5 Local delights
#6 Good intentions: The English police may be misdirected. Towards #GreenChina. Access to recycling is far more prominent and easy compared to back home in Singapore.
#7 The waters here are fed by the glacial runoffs of the mountain massif Jade Dragon Snow Mountain 玉龙雪山. Like the many towns in the Swiss Alps that innovate around hydro power, Lijiang is no different.
#8 View of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the expanse of the city from Wan Gu Lou 万古楼 atop Lion Hill 狮子山
#9 Again, more drum mania. Lijiang Old Town is famous for its live bands and pubs. This pub has its drummer seated rather precariously. I would think twice about jamming here too vigorously!
- #10 Picture postcard view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain from Black Dragon Pool 黑龙潭.
Filed under: Bob's Opinion, Culture, Photo Story