Yaks in Yunnan Province

17th February 2013

Dear Bloggers,

Off to Yunnan (clouds of the South) Province this week, so lots to tell you & here are some FUN FACTS:
1) It is the most SW region of China, bordering Vietnam, Laos & Myanmar.
2) Capital: Kunming – the gateway to the south silk road
3) There are 25 different ethnic minority groups living in Yunnan

IMGP7438 IMGP7434


Costumes from minorities

Costumes from minorities

Arrived in Kunming. Visited Yuantong Temple – more than 1200 years old & lit candles – although it was very windy. Walked around the Green Lake, saw many Camellias and fed the Siberian seagulls special food (but they preferred the bread). Dinner at Shi Ping Hui Guan & tried local food siting in an open courtyard of an old house – toasted tofu is not my new favourite!

Arrived in Dali in the Cangshan Mountain area. Walked through the old town & saw many Bai people in local dress & dancing. We had lunch in “Yangren Street” (Foreigners street), which was good for people watching (me, mostly!). Visited the Three Pagodas & Chongsheng Temple where we learnt about the lady Buddha Guang Ying & the lady/man Buddha A Chui Ye Guang Ying who has a female face & male body (that’s weird).

Three Pagodas

Three Pagodas

A Chui Yi Guang Ying

A Chui Yi Guang Yin

Joined a tea ceremony – we tried 3 different teas – bitter, sweet & ginger – with “entertainment” – dancing & singing (Mum says she hadn’t heard singing like that since doing karaoke in Tokyo!). Went to an embroidery school – a bit more advanced than my cross stitch – before going to our hotel – a renovated village house in Xizhou called “The Linden Centre”.


The Linden Centre

The Linden Centre

Brian Linden met us on arrival & told us all about the renovation projects & we were shown around the courtyards which were all very interesting. From the terrace we could see fields of broad beans & garlic growing, as well as the Himalayas. Fantastic views!

View from the linden centre terrace

View from the linden centre terrace

After meeting lots of guests in the bar, we had dinner & joined in a courtyard party in the evening, with lots of dancing.



we walked into the local town of Xizhou with some very nice people who work at The Linden Centre & joined in a village celebration for the birthday of the local protector at the Jingui temple. I helped to give calendars as gifts to many people there from The Linden Centre & Dad took lots of pictures of the people. There was a band, the locals were cooking bowls of noodles & there was a lot of incense. We then walked around the local market & visited a rice noodle “factory”. There were goldfish in the water that was then used to steam the rice! We then went in horses & carts to the Erhai Lake (or “ear sea”, as the lake is in the shape of an ear – it is also the second largest highland lake in China) where we had a picnic. I got to drive the horse & cart back. We then went antique shopping with Brian & some other guests. Dad bought 2 cat tiles – we saw a lot of these on roof tops as well as on gates – they apparently ward away evil (we now have 3 on top of our cooker hood, so the kitchen should be evil-free).


… from a man who had been on the “happy juice” & who gave Mum a present (a pot) & I got a hongbao!

We were sad to leave Xizhou, but got up early to go to Sha Cua fishing village to see cormorant fishing on Erhai Lake. The cormorants are very good at catching big fish & each have a special place on the side of the fishing boat. Some of the younger birds were having some exercise & were being naughty. Cormorants are quite heavy!

A cormorant on my head!

A cormorant on my head!

We then drove to Lijiang over lots of hills & through many small villages. Lijiang is NW Yunnan. Naxi, Han, Bai, Tibetan, Pumi, Lisu & Yi people make up 58% of the population. We walked through Dayan – the old town & visited Mu Mansion – the former residence of Tusi Mu Yamen who ruled the Naxi. We climbed part of the way up Lion’s Mountain to see the rooftops of Lijiang, but as part of the mountain was closed we didn’t get all the way to the top.

Impressions of Tintin

Impressions of Tintin


Two valentines cards arrived in our room this morning. Mum was sad & Dad was in BIG trouble. Mum cheered up though when we saw the very clear view of the mountains before breakfast.

Snow Mountain

Snow Mountain

We went to a small village called YuHu & visited Joseph Rock’s house – an Austrian explorer/ photographer for National Geographic – where he lived for 27 years! Dad tested the Yunnan stinging nettles, which are very stingy [Dad is a numpty!] I have had a cough, so Mum thought I should try some Traditional Chinese Medicine – it does not taste good.

Beans, powdered - cures all sorts!

Beans, powdered – cures all sorts!

After yak skewers (too spicy) & yak yoghurt (delicious) for lunch, we saw a brilliant show.

Wow, that's high!

Wow, that’s high!

“Impressions of Lijiang” (same director – Zhang Yimou – as Hero & House of Flying Daggers) is an outdoor performance which had more than 500 local people in it, from 10 ethnic groups, from 16 villages & 100 Naxi horses (which have very short legs) & tells stories of Naxi life, with folk songs & dances with the Jade Dragon Snow mountains as a back drop.

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The mountains have 13 peaks. The highest is 5,596 metres & is unconquered – as the rock is too soft. The local people now call it “rock” mountain, not “snow” mountain, as it has not snowed for so long. We then visited Baishu, an ancient village where we saw invaluable murals from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) that reflect different religious cultures of Buddism, Lamism, Daoism & the Naxi Dongba religion – & then explored the village.

Me & my 'valentines"/vegetable sellers

Me & my ‘valentines”/vegetable sellers

We then went to the Black Dragon Pool (which is a bit dried up).


We had a very romantic valentines dinner at the hotel, with love bread, souvenir photo etc. Dad did not use enough sun tan lotion!


We went again to Dayan, the old town of Lijiang.

Yak coats, hats, bags ....

Yak coats, hats, bags ….

Thirsty Work, all this "looking"

Thirsty Work, all this “looking”

No gondolas, but a cart works!

No gondolas, but a cart works!

Abercrombie & what?

Abercrombie & what?

It is the only old city without a city wall. Lijiang was reigned by the Mu family for more than 500 years. If the Chinese character for “Mu” is put in a frame (represents a city wall) it is the character “Kun” which means siege, meaning the descendants of Mu would be trapped like a rat in a hole. Because of this symbolism, the city was never given a wall. Grandpa might not like this news! The houses are wood with tiled roofs, with engraved figures of people & animals on doors & windows. We had dumplings for lunch in Snack Street.

Snacks for lunch

Snacks for lunch

The town has many streams & more than 350 bridges & willow trees – also known as “oriental Venice” – but no gondolas.


We tried out “hot pot” for dinner, which was fun!

Hot Pot Dinner

Hot Pot Dinner

With thanks to Mum for the “fact” research [& most of the typing] & thanks to Dad for most of the photos – & for getting back my log book that you left on the plane [NUMPTY 2].

From Thomas

P.S. For those of you who are worried about me having less school than you, have had “half-term” & I have only one week of holiday for Easter.
P.P.S. My first film ” 5 must sees in NYC” is now on YouTube. You can get the link by emailing me & asking for the link, or DVD copies are now available & cost £2.00 on request!

P.P.P. S. Granny fix-it this picture is for you



  1. Polly-wolly · · Reply

    Wow, what a great trip and some fab photos – especially the one of the old lady at the beginning – did you take it? I love hearing about your adventures and especially the shows you go to see – that man on the horse, with that backdrop …. I mean, I mean ….wow!!!




  3. Thomas – what a busy week you have had – slightly jealous that we only made Harrods at half term!
    Love pics of family – more of your mum this time, and nice red one of dad!
    Love to you all.


  4. Sal Salvagno · · Reply

    Great blog , Thomas. Love following “The Adventures Of Thomas”.



  5. Granny Devon · · Reply

    I don’t know what to comment on first – your blog is so amazing this week, full of really exciting things – its like reading a book with lots of chapters. I didn’t get any valentines either tell your Mum, she probably wouldn’t have wanted one from a ten million year old tortoise anyway!


    1. I will tell her!


  6. Auntie Hannah · · Reply

    Sounds like you’re having a great time, I’m very envious. Hope Dad’s sun-burn is getting better (that photo did make me laugh!! sorry Bromley.x)


    1. His face is now a mass of peeling skin & he looks like a 10 million year old tortoise (so he says)


  7. Granny fixit · · Reply

    What an interesting week you have had Thomas – not sure I will eat rice noodles in future.
    Granny had no valentine either, despite having a house guest – such bad manners!
    School will be rather mundane after all this.


    1. I have posted a pic of the goldfish for you


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