30 October, 2007

No.23: Yunnan - Lijiang (Part 2)

Lijiang Old Town
7th - 8th August 2007
Lijiang or Lijiang Old Town is the home of the Naxi (Na-Shee) minority people. The Naxi's are noted as one of the few Asian people who have maintained a matriarchal society. The women inherited all the property, held power over the males for love affairs with flexible arrangements, the children belongs to the women and are held responsible to raise them. Even the disputes were resolved by the female elders. In short, the women officially ran the show of the society. Pretty much the same to the Khasi's in Meghalaya who follows the same excepting for adjudicating social disputes.

The Naxi's are one of the last practitioners of the pictograph language still in use today. They claim that it can be read by anyone without being taught. Dongba is the culture they follow as well as the name of their religion and shamans.

Night life in Lijiang Old Town is very scenic. The main part of the old town highlights the rooftops with red lanterns. Our nights are mostly spent rambling along the winding lanes with hundreds of shops on either side. We would walk past canals and over bridges with the weeping willows bordering the canals.

We were lucky to have witnessed the three day Torch Festival during our two days stay there. The Torch Festival is an important traditional festival of many ethnic groups in Yunnan Province. The Naxis celebrate this festival to protect their crops from destructive insects by fire whereas the Yi Group firework version is to serve as a warning to ghosts and for keeping away the evil spirits. They set up giant torches by bundling pine woods together decorated with flowers and lit on streets around the old town. Some of the locals gathered around the flaming bonfire singing and dancing to their hearts' content.

We also came across women selling candles with colored papers made in the shape of lotus flower to hold the candles. Many tourists bought these candles and released it on the water that runs through the town. The candle lights could be seen bobbling up and down along the canal which lends a romantic charm.

On our second day, we hired a van and went to the Tiger Lake (Lashi Hai) 15km from the booming tourist town of Lijiang. It's a natural reservoir of plant and animal species including several species of birds which winter there. It is a grassland with mountains surrounding it. Horses could be hired to tour the distant places and around the grassland. Once we reached the spot, we found that it was highly overpriced. Having visited the grassland in Inner Mongolia, I wasn't very impressed with the place plus I probably had food poisoning and wasn't feeling well at all. So we just wandered around the grassland on foot then went back to the old town.

We rented bikes the same day and toured the city. I always enjoy pedaling through the unfamiliar roads and discovering new places. With the weather just ideal for the ride, we went to a place where at one end there is a large square with a waterwheel. Here too was swamped with tourists. We spent a few hours there taking pictures and then headed back to our hotel. We went out walking again in the evening, had dinner beside the canal and took in the beauty of the old town to be ever imprinted in my mind.


  1. A nalh leh hlawm hle mai a.

    Chuan, i post hi part 2 i tia, mahse html ah chuan part 3 i ti daih sia, a in karah post delete i nei a ni maw? :)

  2. Iva vang ve tunlai Lal Illusionaire :)
    Ka chhutsual palh anih kha. 2 tur kha 3 kalo chhu a....:P

  3. thlalak hmasa ber khian ka lung avan tileng.
    Grassland kan kal kha chu fuh lo ve khups mai.Ka in thiam lo ltk kha mini khan..

    Lal Illuson-er-a hi thil hi a hre thei ania,abikin Puppy an nu nen an buaipui atrang hian :))

  4. your travelogue and pictures makes me want to pack my bags and travel there...well done. Could the Khasis be related to them? I heard that in Yunnan they have copied the Cheraw dance for the tourists but more in the style of Tinikling, the philippines style...is it true?

  5. @ Seki: Lunglen a top tep toh alom nang te chu...Ilo hon leh hun chu,I nakruh bo ron zong hmuk toh lang a tha ang :)

  6. Thnx Shahnaz. If you're interested in culture,people, architecture and places like myself, plus it's long history,I'm sure you'll find it highly interesting to travel around China.
    There's a possibility of the Khasis relating with the Naxis as the Khasi's are believed to have migrated from SW China. However, even if they both follow matrilineal system, their sentence structure differs (with the Khasis being Subject-verb-object(SVO) under the Austro-Asiatic language branch whereas the Naxi's is SOV under the Tibeto-Burman language group)
    Regarding the cheraw/bamboo dance, I can't say if their bamboo dance is copied from the Phillipines because I do know that many Asian countries have bamboo dance..in Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Phillipines, Vietnam, minority groups in China, the Karens' in Burma and Mizo's :) in India.

  7. hey Jinx, thanks for the info, very interesting indeed, and China is in my list of places to go, but when is the question:-)do you live there?
    Re: bamboo dance, I am aware that some SE Asians have the dance too, but a friend who is a diplomat mentioned that the Chinese are doing it for the tourists (as they would do anything to keep their boom bigger:-) ...but having read a lot about Yunnan area and having seen some culutral dances and songs here, I would not be surprised that the tribes have it there too...

  8. A hnuai ber a mi nautelem ang khi, nalh ka ti ropui, lei tum hian ka zawng thrin a, suak quit deuh2 bak ka hmu ngai lo..

  9. @Shahnaz: I've worked here for a couple of years now. I do hope u'd come. Other than the 'sumdawngho' in HK and Guandong Province, we hardly have Mizo visitors here in mainland China :( When u decide to come (and if I'm still around),I'll be happy to help.

    @Jerusha: Lei turin ilo zin angai anih chu lolz
    Taka, i blogah kala comment theilo fo...huizzz

  10. Jinx chu i ziak tha hle mai. Thlen chinah a mawina leh hlutna sawi chhuah tur tha tak tak i nei zel a, thuziaka i dah hi a la hlu dawn khawp mai. Han ziak zel teh. A lehkhabu a i chhuah hlauh chuan a thuhmahruaia ziah ka hauh a nia..lolss...ti daih ila, cycle a in chuan laia in kawr hmaa thu inziak khi enge a awmzia le?

  11. Thnx Maruat. Lekhabu chhuah phawt chuan thuhmahruai chang lo poh ziahtir teuh hrim2 che :)
    Kawr hmaa mi chu omzia kan hre bik tlatlo. A zuartute kan zawt a, Tibetan hawrawp ania kan hrelo an ti bok sia...

  12. Thank you and I will certainly look up to your offer to host me( he he he) when I can come to your part of the world. Likewise if you ever decide to come to Europe, you are most welcome to stay with us. You can contact me via my website www.shahnazkimi.com or ask Kima or Maruata:-)