White Cornelian Mountain
Lashi Lake is located 10 km west of Lijiang County. Jingtso and Dorgee had rented a large piece of land 20 years ago, and had slowly been building rooms, gardens, and a swimming for pool their own usage and their friends’ leisures. Jingsto suggested that we visit their resort for a night, and that they’d come along with their friends to cook us a meal. I was getting tired of dealing with the crowd outside our guesthouse, and asked if we could stay four nights instead. Jingsto welcomed my request, saying that the resort was perfect for our training because of its open space and serenity. She then arranged for her driver to take us there in two batches. David, Bernhard, Andrew, Rafael, and I came first. The rest came later with Jingtso and her friends.
It was love at first sight when we arrived at Lashi. The resort, named Baimashan (White Cornelian Mountain) was up on a hill, that gave us a spectacular view of the lake and surrounding mountain. There was a steep stairway, surrounded by fruit trees, that led us to the top part of the resort. The rooms were large, clean, and stylish. The pool was in the middle of the front courtyard, on top of the two rooms in the lower section.
The second batch came, and the girls cooked up spicy mini-lobsters mixed with vegetables. I ate the vegetables, while the guys struggled with eating the lobster because of the unfamiliarity of cracking the shells with their teeth, which the girls were so proficient at. Click the picture below to see images of our first afternoon at the White Cornelian Mountain Resort.
Click the picture below to see images I took of the resort and the view from it in the subsequent days.
Once we arrived here, we fell in love with the premises and decided to stay here for the rest of the trip in Lijiang. Couldn’t have found a better place to train. Click the picture below to see us training.
The next day, we walked over to the Tibetan monastery, Zhiyun, just four or five hundred meters away. It is one of the oldest and biggest monasteries in Lijiang County. It is surrounded by large old trees that are several hundred years old. We went early in the morning before the monks woke up and before other visitors came in. There was an old section and a newer one on top. The Buddhist artwork and statues had a mix of Tibetan, Naxi, Bai, and Chinese flavour to them. Click the picture below to see images of the monastery.
Liwei and Yaxiao
The following day, Ben left to go back to Switzerland. In the afternoon, my oldest and best friends in China from Kunming, came to visit me for 5 nights. Lin Liwei was the first person I met when I landed at the airport in China in 1993. He was referred to me by a mutual friend as a contact; however, we’ve become the best of friends. His wife, Yaxiao, is a very soft-spoken and gentle woman. I used to stay with them every time I visited Kunming. They had also visited me in Thailand and Canada when I lived there. Click the picture below to see my friends.
Da Yu Cun (Fishing Village)
On the same day, we decided to walk to the nearest village, Da Yu Cun, which the housekeeper said was just 10 minutes awake. I told her that it took longer than that to go to the monastery, and we hadn’t seen any villages on our way. Then she said it was maybe 20 minutes walk; but it turned out to be nearly a hour. At the village, we negotiated with a household to cook us a farmer’s meal for 500 yuan (CAD$100) for the seven of us. They cut up a live hen and hooked up some live fish for the meal. They also made a variety of vegetable dishes. For a change, we got freshly baked “Nan” type bread, which we enjoyed very much. Click the picture below to see images of the village and meal we had.
On the 10th of August, we went to Lijiang to the tailor who had always made Chinese clothes for me and my daughters. I brought the whole gang to get them measured for Chinese vests and pants that can be used for workout as well as daily wear. Click the picture below to see our time with the tailor-couple.
I had also asked Lilian to arrange transportation and a farmers’ meal at the Wenbi (Calligraphy Brush Tip) Mountain. It is about 4,500 meters above sea level, and houses the Weng Feng Monastery, which was built in 1739. It was a place that my father had frequented in his youth. I had also hiked to the top with Sonny in 1993 before roads were built to reach it. In those days, we rented bicycles to ride from the Old Town to the base of the mountain, and climbed the mountain on footpaths made by other hikers. Now, tourists are brought up to the monastery in cars on winding roads. However, it’s not a popular destination for the young Chinese tourists who are only interested in shopping for clothes, handicrafts, and dates (not the type you eat, but the type you sleep with). Wenbi had a thriving hot-spring business some years ago, but closed down due to the lack of patrons.
We first visited a village that grew and sold potatoes. Click the picture below to see images of the village and the views from it.
Wen Feng Si (High [Calligraphy] Brush Monastery)
Then we went to the top part of Wen Feng Monastery, which traditionally kept a hidden key to open the gates of the next monastery that a monk was suppose to go to on his pilgrimage. We then walked down a 20-minute path to the actual temple that housed the monks and prayer rooms. The correct way to do the pilgrimage was to start from the bottom going up, but Lilian thought that some of us may not be fit to do the climb so reversed it … not knowing that David had more trouble walking down than hiking up with his bad knee; however, he faired well.
Before reaching the main monastery, there was a pond that collected the spring water that flowed down from the mountain. It is considered to be pure and holy. We all took a sip from the running spring.
After visiting the monastery, we went to a village halfway down the mountain to have our dinner. We were met by one of Lilian’s relatives, who then led us to the farmhouse that prepared the food. The meal was good as always. We all enjoyed it very much … particularly the homemade plum juice. By the way, David had never eaten Chinese food or used chopsticks before; but did great with both during the whole trip. Click the picture below to see our visit to the monastery, and the meal at the farmer’s house.
During the meal, I learned that my grandmother’s grave had been moved from Nankou (Southern Opening) to Wenbi Mountain by my cousin, Xuan Ke, and that Lilian’s relative knew exactly where it was located. I requested that I be taken to the grave, after dinner, to pay my respect to her, which the gentleman obliged. We then hiked up to his house to fetch his car; however, his daughter-in-law had taken the car out, so he wasn’t able to take me there. The driver who brought us to Wenbi mountain had gone to town to get his electric minibus recharged, and was afraid it would not have enough charge to take us up to the grave and back to Lashi Lake. In fact, when we drove back to Lashi Lake, we were stuck in one spot without moving in traffic for an hour due to road construction; we were all concerned that the minibus would die on us, but made it there fortunately.
On Sunday, August 11, Andrew flew back to Christchurch, New Zealand. Here’s a video clip of our farewell bid to him.
On Monday, August 12, Liwei and Yaxiao took the train back to Kunming.
On Tuesday, August 13, we moved back to Lijiang; Dominik and Xenia left to go back to Switzerland. Here are some pictures and video of our parting.
On Wednesday, August 14, Bernhard departed for Germany. Here are some pictures and video of his departure.
In the evening, I went to visit my Lijiang family to bid farewell. We had a small gathering at Hilton’s house where he and his wife cooked a nice meal for us. It happened to be a festive day when the spirits of our ancestors return to their homes. In the Chinese tradition, on the fifth day of the fourth lunar month, families go to visit their ancestors graves to pay respects. They bring along food and presents for them. On the tenth day of the seventh lunar month, folks receive the ancestors to their homes, preparing food and gifts for them. On the fourteenth day of that month, which was that evening, they send off their ancestors to their homes. The receiving and sending off of the ancestors’ spirits are now done only in small traditional towns, such as Lijiang, in China. Most cities don’t do that anymore, except for the grave visiting tradition.
Click the picture below to see the last gathering of my family.
On Thursday, August 15, The last of us, David, Rafael, Albert, and I left Lijiang for Dali, another Ancient City north of Lijiang; the blog of which will come next.