Naxi Orchestra

I woke up at 7am to the sound of the rain, a relentless drip drip drip. Not good as we came here with the plan of hiking through “Tiger Leaping Gorge” for a day or so. The gorge is very dangerous in the wet season but even a bit of rain can make it almost impossible to negotiate the steep paths and we’re hardly prepared for wet weather trekking.

If we have to change our plans though that’s ok as there are other things to do here and we want to see some of the Tibetan monasteries in the area. Providing the rain slows a bit we also want to photograph some of the “out of this world” scenery that we have already seen here. The Black Dragon Pool Lake, offers the most stunning views with snow capped mountains in the background. Wow!

Its 4pm and we have spent the day fairly quietly, it is pissing down and very cold and has been all day. I have had a sharp reminder of why I hate the wintry weather so much. We bought woolly gloves and hats today and really tried to wrap up. The old town of Lijiang where we are staying is great, the streets are very narrow and cobbled and the houses all traditional one story “Naxi” style wooden constructions with sloped tiling roofs. Most of the houses are open at the front and sell many traditional Tibetan goods such as fur clothing, brightly patterned cloth, wooden and horn decorative items, yak meat and Chinese tea. Some of the women dress in brightly coloured clothing with lots of large ornamental hair combs and pieces.

The cafes here are very nice, internet is available but very hit and miss but the hot chocolates and English muffins made up for that. We spent a few hours doing some schoolwork with the kids. My good friend Nicky pointed out that we haven’t mentioned it much recently but it still continues painful though it is at times! We have been doing the properties of metals today and again it went ok. Slightly more effort on Maisie’s part than Ali’s but we got there in the end!

We rang my mum it’s her birthday today and had a long chat. Happy Birthday Mum! I’ll have a nice Corona for you tonight if it warms up if not maybe a Jack Daniels and coffee. Cheers!! Or as they say in China gan bei (The only thing I have learnt to say other than hello, thank you and toilet in Mandarin)

Tonight we are going to see the Naxi Orchestra, it’s quite expensive and something we may have given a miss but as the weather is so bad we haven’t got too many plans for outdoor stuff and don’t worry about the cost. We spend an hour huddled around a few barbeque coals swapping travellers tales with a couple from Holland and a Japanese guy. On his RTW trip he is taking in England, Spain, France and Italy. Not heard of too often from the other travellers we have met.

Went for dinner and had some fantastic food I think I enjoyed it more than any other meal I have eaten in China. I think we were quite adventurous with our choice of deep fried yak, roasted pork strips, green cabbage and ham rice and spicy beef dishes and it paid off, the food was delicious. As we were leaving a fella came in with a guitar and asked if we wanted to hear a traditional Naxi song. Ali did, so we paid up and were subjected to5 minutes of the worst singing and guitar playing I have ever heard. Ali’s face was a picture and I couldn’t look at the fella for giggling. In the end we were glad to escape and declined when he asked if wanted to hear another one!

Just got back after an hour of Naxi orchestra, during the Cultural Revolution musical instruments were banned and destroyed. Fortunately some of the very old instruments were saved by the Naxi people who buried them, it also helped that Lijiang is very isolated and therefore the destruction of the music wasn’t as strictly enforced as in other provinces of China. The music was beautiful and hearing the Naxi women sing was lovely. Their high pitched sweet voices are very distinctive and evoked images of rural China that I have seen on the TV in the past.

Despite this though we left early, it is so cold here the temperature seems to have dropped dramatically this evening and we froze our arses off in the drafty building until none of us could stand it any longer. I am sat in bed now, fully dressed with my woolly hat, 2 quilts, 2 thick blankets and the electric blanket on and I’m still shaking with cold. We checked the five day forecast earlier and have decided to move on to Kunming. Slightly further south and at a lower elevation we’re hoping it will be warmer and dry.