Up this am for a late start. Went to a flower market, but to get to the flower market you had to go through the coffee market. I wanted to buy the different coffees but I was low on cash due to the postage again. Is not all that easy to find ATM’s that take our cards. Not even the Bank of China. A local bank for local people. They are very clever... There is only one way through the coffee market. You have to walk through a carefully constructed maze past every single display. Takes ages. Would be a bummer if you just wanted flowers.
The flower market itself was a bit of an eyeopener... the flowers are exquisitely and perfectly packaged. They make shapes and words out of the flowers. For example... I love you, in a heart.
Very clever. Heaps of others as well. Helen wanted to buy seeds for Ian but they weren’t properly labelled so we wouldn’t get them through Customs. Sorry Ian.
Next, lunch very close to the airport and off to Li Jiang.
When we landed the sky was a brilliant duck egg blue with little white fluffy clouds. Looked like a kids drawing. And it was the perfect temperature, no humidity. Just glorious.
Our hotel here is really a bit out of touch with modern tourism I think. Its perfectly ok, but they haven’t quite made it into the 21st century. We are right on the border of the old town and the new city. Apparently some years ago, maybe ten, they had a big earthquake that cleanbowled most of the old town, so they just built a new one alongside. We went out for a gander through little winding streets and alley ways. Mostly trinket things but not all. Suspicious looking meat stalls, most said yak, but some said ‘rak’. The ‘take away’ vendors seemed to be cooking in yak fat which was making David feel a little green. So we all bought little somethings but left the yak to those who would truly appreciate it. This time, we went to the cultural experience before the chinese banquet. The local people put on a great performance headed by the dongba... the shaman or wise man. He was at least 80. All dressed up in the most magnificent gear. I cant say costumes as they really wear this stuff. The thing is, this culture is being lost by the influx of us tourists.. Its a shame really... but I guess you cant halt progress, it thats what it is! The place we went was obviously multi purpose as it had a lot of Bob Marley posters on the walls. Within a nano second of the cultural experience being over the PA came on and pumped out Gangsta rap. We moved onto dinner via the ‘Bar’ street. Every place was belting out disco, or similar at goodness knows what decibel level, but trust me, it was loud! (Am I getting old?)... It was awful. Just a cacophony of noise. We went into a dive.. I mean local establishment where some chinese rastas were playing reggae, which was kind of nice if it had drowned out the noise coming in from all directions up and down the street. Here weren’t many windows to keep the sound in or out, and it made me wonder exactly how much ganga was being smoked in there as as soon as we walked in the smell almost knocked us over. We didn’t see it, but theres no mistaking the smell.
The food was a mixture of really nice, ok and horrible. We were able to stay and ‘partay’ but like the old farts we are we all followed Jason back to the hotel. He took some of them to a quiet bar so they could have a beer in peace, but the 4 of us headed off to KFC, which stands for ‘Kevin’s Favorite Cuisine’. Kevin had wisely held back on some of the more dubious dishes, and had a large meal deal of some kind. He said it had beak in it, but you can’t always trust Kevin! I think all of you have figured that out by now. Helen and I enjoyed a sundae... we savoured the disgustingness of it all and went off to bed.
I’ve forgotten to tell you about the beggars. In Xian I think, we saw heaps... they come out at night. They pretend o be disabled, with limbs missing etc. These on the bridge seemed to all be blind... I would be to if my eyes were tightly squeezed shut. I know that’s a tautology but I’m doing my best to illustrate a picture here.
Anyway, I said with the hand of God, I could heal them. I just wanted to go up to them, lay my hand gently on their shoulders and then say... Open your eyes... It would be a miracle... They would be able to see and I would be sainted. But I didn’t... They would lose a lucrative business, and I’d be found out as a fake healer.... It was really funny ... one lady tried to have her eyes squeezed shut and to squint through them at the same time to see if we were buying the story and leaving any money.
Here in LiJiang there are other beggars. I’m not sure if this is worse or not. A man (this looked genuine to me) with one arm gone from the shoulder and the other hand missing, crawling along the street pulling a little cart... and a man clearly grossly disabled in a nappy, face down on the pavement almost banging his head to point to his tin. He wouldn’t have been able o walk or crawl as his legs were grossly misshapen and withered. He was the same as many of the people I used to nurse at St Nicholas hospital in Carlton in the 70’s.
His family would have placed him there, and come back to collect him and the money late in the evening. Evening would be a good time to beg, as the houses are so small and families living together, they spend most of the time outdoors. The joint was bum(per) to bum(per) on the street. It was teeming.
We have the most magnificent view of the snow topped mountain from our room. We’ve teases the boys about the superior room with the splendid views. They look over some sort of industrial waste dumping ground. About time the girls scored. Usually we do poorly.