This is Catherine speaking - my lovely husband, Nigel, could not join me on this trip as the teachers of Hong Kong International School were working hard while we, the teachers of the French School, were on vacation.
My good friend and colleague Jeanne Prier persuaded me to embark on this adventure with a group of 7 people I didn't know. The destination sounded interesting - the Yunnan province and its minorities. Well, it WAS interesting! We spent a week there, landing first in Kunming. Like most Chinese cities, Kunming is not exactly pretty, - the only interesting site there is the annual horticultural exhibit which unfortunately did not coincide with our visit. The weather was very dry and sunny but we could not see the surrounding mountains, which are supposed to be beautiful. There was a lot of pollution, perhaps from burning coal, even though it was not cold. I have no photos of Kunming.
We left Kunming on a Yunnan Airline flight (oh, mon dieu) to Dali where we spent two nights. Dali is a quaint little city known for its minorities such as the Bai. Women dress in colorful clothes. We went to a hill tribe market in a little village 30 km north of Dali and found it very photogenic...
Shaping market (photos below), 30 km north of Dali, is dominated by women of the Bai minority.
After Shaping market, we visited a couple of traditional villages where they make batik cotton fabrics using indigo dyes. This woman is removing the stitches which define the batik.
We often skipped meals, but on this day I happily devoured these flat loaves - very filling!
At the end of our second day in Dali, we visited a house (now a museum) built around three courtyards like this one. Notice the white wall used to reflect light into the yard.
Freshly dyed indigo cloth.
Once the batik is finished, it is put on display like this - I bought the middle one as a bedspread.
After Dali we drove to Lijiang - a beautiful village in the foothills of the Himalayas. It has been nicely restored following the 1996 quake which mainly damaged the newer parts of the town. We spent three days in Lijiang which is inhabited by the Naxi minority dressed in black and blue. All these minorities are either related to the Tibetans or to the hill tribe minorities of Laos, Burma and Vietnam.
On the road from Dali to Lijiang.
Black Dragon Pool Park in Lijiang. You can barely see the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the background - it soars to an altitude of 5500m (18000 ft).
A street scene in Lijiang - peasants returning from the fields.
In the streets of Lijiang, the people looked interesting but were very camera-shy (or tired of being bothered by tourists?) Nice hat!
Naxi music in Baisha Hall near Lijiang. These are original instruments from the Han, Song and Tong dynasties. In other parts of China, very few of these instruments survived the ravages of the Cultural Revolution.
A lama (Tibetan priest) in one of the monasteries near Lijiang. Few lamas remain.
This pagoda gives a fine view over the roofs of Lijiang.
A Naxi woman.
Lijiang Central Plaza. One of the many canals, fed by a river. The water looked very clear.
Above left: Details of a roof near Lijiang. Below: Street scenes, Lijiang.
My friends and colleagues, Annie and Jeanne.
Most statues of the Great Helmsman in China have now been destroyed, but one remains here, in Mao Square.