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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Update

So, I haven't been here in awhile, writing and letting everyone know what I'm doing. I'll thank you for any concern that has been sent my way.

Lets see. Tiger Leaping Gorge was very nice. The scenery, stunning to be sure. The people met along the way nice as well, both Chinese (Naxi minority and Han) and foreigners, including a group or international school teachers living in Hong Kong and a Brit that I spent a lot of time with at the gorge and then in Lijiang.

I am going to say something about the gorge now that may not make me popular with all the people who rave about how great it is to trek in the gorge. Here is my problem: the word "trek." Trekking, to me, implies two things. The first is someone mispronouncing the proper nickname for someone who loves Star Trek. The second is a long and arduous journey by foot or horse or what have you, over the course of a week or several or months and across a rough landscape. At Tiger Leaping Gorge, most of the people who rave about the trek will, like me, take two days, maybe three, on a seldom difficult path (a few points, yes, but nothing to make one faint with exhaustion to be sure) and will spend as much time walking as they will drinking beer or tea and talking about how great everything is. What sealed this for me was a sign painted on the side of one of the guesthouses along the way: Great Chinese and Western food. No MSG. It is a hike. Not a trek.

There was also the unpleasant surprise of being charged twice once on the path, by locals who want money for maintaining the path. I don't have a problem with this perse, but thinking that if they make 10 RMB off each person going through, and twice at that, and that it is all going to two or three families, they well make more than a whole lot of people living in the cities of China. Love capitalism.

From there to Lijiang. Yes, there are a lot of tourists, but it is nice, with the European feel created by narrow cobblestone lanes and a hillside building lit up at night kind of like Prague castle and lamps, etc. Also spending a ridiculous amount of time at Le Petit Bookstore, which has a nice patio and shows art movies at night, and talking politics and life and travel over beers and cigarettes (well, not me smoking) and ginger tea. There could be more said, but I'm not going to.

And now, a long day of bus rides over atrocious cobblestoned roads winding up and down mountains, a moment of panic when the bus lost traction in mud and was sliding straight for a several thousand foot drop, and just general crankiness, all to arrive in Yongning, which I knew to be home of a large number of the Mosuo tribe, the last matriarchal society on earth. As it turns out, it is a beautiful countryside as well, and there are 12 minority groups living here, which means walking the quiet streets with pigs and chickens and angry geese one also passes by an extraordinary blend of faces. I passed by Lugu Lake as well, which I will probably stay at for a day, a large blue thing surrounded by mountains and nice. Saw a rainbow over it as well, which was also nice.

So, thats your update. Hope everyone is well.

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