Friday, 29 April 2016
Thursday, 28 April 2016
The Naxi, are one of the minority groups living in Yunnan region and Lijiang is home to the majority of the 320,000 population.
As it is a cold climate, they wear many layered, wool clothing.
Women traditionally wear a long, unlined gown and a colorful, embroidered cape. Under the gown the wear trousers, or as in these photos they wear an apron over the trousers.
Blue is a traditional colour and many women had blue hats and aprons.
A black sheepskin cape is a distinctive feature of their costume. It has seven round designs embroidered on it to represent the stars. White and black are the main colors. White symbolizes the sky while black the earth.
"Together, the sky, earth and stars that are sewn onto the Naxi woman's cape symbolize the industriousness of the Naxi women."
Traditionally the Naxi were a strictly matriarchal society with the women taking the dominant role in business and society. This tradition has been somewhat lost in mainstream Naxi culture today.
As a matriarchal society, the Naxi take a flexible approach to marriage and partnership. Women typically live separately from men, and take several partners. They also bear full responsibility for any children born, with little formal involvement of the father.
It is not just the children that are the responsibility of women. Property and valuable possession too belong to the women, and titles and positions of power pass through the female line.
Wednesday, 27 April 2016
Officially named as one of the best view points in China, Black Dragon Pool in Lijiang was a pleasant break from the hectic pace of the old town. The gardens were beautiful - it would be gorgeous in autumn. Lovely reflections in the lake, but unfortunately cloud covered the Jade Snows Dragon Mountains in the background.
The pool takes its name from an ancient legend. It’s said that once upon a time there were ten evil dragons that terrorised the land. One of the Eight Immortals of Chinese legends, jailed nine of the dragons in a tower, leaving only the youngest black dragon. The black dragon was forced to protect the land to keep its freedom, and still lives in the pool today.
The pool is divided into two parts by a white marble bridge, and despite the water being connected, the sides maintain different colours and the fish on either side refuse to swim to the opposite pool. Additionally, the pool has never dried up, even during the worst droughts.
Tuesday, 26 April 2016
I saw the Chairman on my last day in China . This statue stands in a public square in Lijiang.
I liked the contrast of Mao, arm raised in a salute, standing in front of three huge cranes - symbols of modern China.
Few people mentioned the Cultural Revolution, those who did were apologetic. It seemed like a chapter of history they don't want to remember - many of course were not alive at the time.
Monday, 25 April 2016
As I struggled up the steep road near the end of my Tiger Leaping Gorge trek I saw this man head downhill with his chain saw at the back of his motor bike and then come back up again with his firewood loaded on. A lovely location for this daily chore.
Much easier than putting in a back pack and walking up a hill (KEV!).
Sunday, 24 April 2016
I walked towards, then through this waterfall on the Tiger Leaping Gorge trek.
It was beautiful. BUT the second photo shows the pipes and poles and powerlines that were behind me as I took the photo.
Tiger Leaping Gorge is definitely not a wilderness experience. There were pipes along the trail in different places, including a huge white poly pipe in one place running down the slope to the river. For the first half of the first day there was a constant pounding accompanying me from a quarry or mine on the slope on the other side of the gorge and at one stage I walked past the factory seen in the photo below.
The lower walking track along the gorge is now a sealed high quality dual lane road. Tour de France quality switch back roads are being built to the villages I walked through so tourists can be delivered in minivans - they walk around, admire the view, take some photos and move on.
Saturday, 23 April 2016
Friday, 22 April 2016
Thursday night last week I stayed at "Sean's Guesthouse" at the end of my walk through Tiger Leaping Gorge. Great view from the room.
The night before I stayed at "Come Inn" half way along the walk with another great view of the snow capped Jade Dragon Snow Mountains.
Wednesday, 20 April 2016
Tuesday, 19 April 2016
My first night in China was spent in Kunming, unexpectedly as my connecting flight to Shangri La was delayed until the morning.
So thanks to the airline, I ended up in hotel somewhere in Kunming and ventured out to find some food.
All signs were in Chinese - WOW
Confused, but hungry I found great street side barbeques and woks.
Spicy veges on a stick and a beer - all was well - no common language needed.
Monday, 18 April 2016
For the Pii Mai break I traveled to Yunnan Province in southern China.
It was amazing. I had a great time, lots of exercise, much cooler temperatures and adventure.
I started in Shangri La, where I spent a day exploring the Tibetan Buddhist Songzanlin Monastery.
Can you ever take too many prayer flag photos? My question of the day and following days. You decide over the next week as I share some of my Yunnan experiences.
Saturday, 16 April 2016
A baci ceremony (traditional Laos Ritual) was another part of the Pii Mai celebrations at school last Friday. The village chief performed the ceremony which features offerings of food and whisky. Apparently a "cock" is the normal offering, but as our director is a female, we had a "hen". Check out the presentation!! - Yes you can see the hen's head.
The ceremony ends with each of us blessing (or wishing each other well) fellow staff by tying a cotton thread around their wrist.
My wrist is wrapped in a dozen or so multi colored threads - and accompanying wishes are in my heart.
We had a similar ceremony at the start of the academic year
Friday, 15 April 2016
Dok Khoun, Laos for golden shower trees - Cassia fistula.
Flowers from this tree were used to perfume the water we threw on the kids at Pii Mai and were used to decorate the walkways at school on Friday.
Khoun in Laos means bringing happiness and yellow is all about joy and happiness and the flower represents unconditional giving - a lovely thought at New Year.
Sok Di Pii Mai to all
Thursday, 14 April 2016
I don't understand the concept or the need for Miss Pii Mai, but regardless it was a feature of the Pii Mai celebrations at school and will be a feature of the celebrations in Vientiane.Some of the grade 9 girls dressed in traditional Laos costume and looked very beautiful. They led the Pii Mai parade and were presented to the audience during the afternoon concert.
The director's daughter, Cassie, who is in Grade 11, wore a crown of flowers which I think meant she might have been the Queen. Here she is with her father Brian who also teachers at school and is looking very proud in his Pii Mai shirt and the Pii Mai
white stuff on his face.
Wednesday, 13 April 2016
Pii Mai shirts are not quite a fashion item, but are must have items for the wardrobe at this time of year. They really are Hawaiian shirts with a certain Laos flair - especially when seen on headless mannequins lining the footpath in front of shops.
Tuesday, 12 April 2016
I will be away from Vientiane (in Yunnan Province, China) for Pii Mai. There will be celebrations here all week, including these giant sand sculptures on the banks of the Mekong. I was down there during the week and witnessed the construction phase.
Monday, 11 April 2016
The Dunking machine was popular at the Swim Gala on Friday and also at the staff Pii Mai party on Friday evening. The Director and the Principals had to have a go, but I really liked this sequence of photos showing Philip the Librarian going in - he has that librarian pointing of the finger thing happening, just before Tracy the Chinese teacher, throws the ball at the target and in he goes.
Sunday, 10 April 2016
Pii Mai is the celebration of Laos New Year and cause for celebrations and water fights.
When else is OK for students to throw water on teacher and for teachers to throw water ballons at students.
On Friday afternoon the splashing began with us pouring perfumed water,( with floating flowers), over students in our advisory, as a blessing and then descended into chaos - but fun.
Domo from Grade 9 is having great joy at throwing his bowl of water over a group of teachers - but Dirk in the green shirt does look less than impressed.