This was the second of Ahng Yimou's shows we saw on the tour around southern China. It's supposed to have the Jade Mountain as a backdrop, however, the day we were there it was pretty wet with loads of low cloud, so no backdrop.
Around 400 local ethnic Naxi, Bai and Yi people were selected from nearby towns and villages to participate in the performance. They dress up in their ethnic costumes and accessories to perform the singing and dancing.
As you can see it is another grand-scale spectacular! It was pretty wet the day we were there. I am not sure if they always do the show in wellies!
As we headed for the hills and Yunnan in general, the weather broke and pretty much stayed broken. However, from our base in Kunming we took a couple of very nice trips. The highlight was the Stone Forest at Shilin. A weird combination of tourist trap and the natural beauty that makes it such a tourist trap!
However, I can imagine that given a decent day and perhaps either sunrise or sunset this would be fabulous. God knows what it's like at the weekend let alone a public holiday!
Every crag seems to have some sort of whimsical name, but for once, the one below actually looks quite a lot like its supposed to.
There are 56 recognised different ethnic groups in China. What we in the West (stereo-typically) think of as being Chinese are Han Chinese and they make up around 90% of the population. As I mentioned earlier, one of our friends commented that as you travel around China you will feel you are in a different country: Which is true!
One of the most striking things is how this different ethnicity shows in facial features. Here are some portraits of different people from the South of China. If one goes further West then the Tibetans look different again and the Uyghur (Pronounced Wee-ger.... Kind of like someone from Glasgow) are distinctly different again.
We walked around a really interesting market (in the rain) in Yunnan, where most Bai people come from/live.
I wasn't altogether fussed by going to the show I have to say. I fancied a quiet dinner and a sunset walk round the village where we were staying but the tickets were bought so off we went.
I was expecting some sort of tacky light show with high pitched warbling Chinese music. The show is absolutely stunning. A true spectacular!
The whole thing is put together by the same guy who did the opening ceremony to the Beijing Olympics (This seems to be a water-tight badge of his brilliance as far as the Chinese are concerned!) and has over 600 performers. It is billed as using the mountains as a backdrop for the lights. Hence my concern for some sort of terrible floodlit affair. However, it's night so you can't really see the mountains and it is the spectacle of the 600 performers on the water that makes. it.
Just down the road from where we were staying in Chengdu was a lovely little monastery. Very simple and elegant and recently restored, it was a lovely bit of peace and q from the brand-spanking new shopping area that now surrounds it.
However, it was really the outside walls that caught our attention. They all have a range of metal reliefs on them. Some nice, but fairly standard...
... but some of the detailing was less usual...
Another feature that we really noticed around Chengdu was the amount of public art.
On from Chengdu to Guilin in Guangxi province. This is a largely rural part of China and is absolutely wonderful. It is rice fields flanked by weirdly shaped peaks (Karst peaks, apparently!). Most Chinese tours stay in the main town of this area, Yangshuo. We would highly recommend avoiding this and finding something smaller and quieter in the countryside. I have to say, not impressed by the town itself, but the area that surrounds it is hard to beat... anywhere. This is doubly true if you have only experienced the mega-cities of the Eastern seaboard of China.
Before we went, a friend told us how much we would like it as it was like a different country. Hmmm! I'm sure it will be nice and different from here, but a different country? He was right and I was wrong. It is like a different country. Fresh, clear mountain air, lush green scenery, different food, faces. Everything is different.
The famous view is this one:
Very pretty, but if you don't know China you'll be wondering what the fuss is about. The reason it's famous is this is the reverse of the 20Y note.
This is the world's largest Buddha at 71m high. It was started in 713 by a monk who really wanted the rubble to improve fishing and navigating the river. In his life time, he managed to carve the head. His son carried on and managed the torso and the grandson finished the whole thing off 90 years later.
For those who are interested in such things, around 6 people can stand on his big toe nail at any one time. His eyes are 10m wide and ears 7m long.... It's big!
You can climb down the 9 flights of stairs to see it, having, of course, climbed up in the first place, or you could just view it from a boat.
Chengdu has a reputation amongst the Chinese as being a bit of a lazy place where people are more concerned about enjoying themselves than working hard! We certainly found plenty of evidence to back that up, indeed the locals seems quite proud of their reputation for laziness.
The centre of the city is Tianfu Square which is, as in may Chinese cities a big open area designed for those big mass rallies so beloved by the early communists. It is now quite a nice public space filled with fountains and police! It is over-looked by a huge (and I do mean huge) statue of Mao.
A short walk further on from Tianfu Square is Renmin Park, a perfect example about what I liked about Chengdu.
Chengdu has lots of interesting temples, as one might expect from somewhere that boasts such a large Tibetan population. However, what is cool (literally) about many of the temples in Chengdu compared to the rest of China is that they all seem to have lovely gardens attached to them. This makes them more than usually pleasant places to kill an hour or two.
The WuhouCi temple is a huge rambling affair dedicated to the Emperor Liu Bei, whose head is buried here and dates from the third century. These walls loop around and the mound inside them is where he is buried. The grounds are packed with interesting sculptures and statues such as these...
As with all classic Chinese gardens, water is a big feature. This is great because not only does it look nice, it has the practical benefits of cooling everything down a bit too in the heat of the summer.
Another of the temples that I particularly enjoyed a wander round was Qingyang Gong, if just for its peace and quiet. The main pavilion is octagonal and is dedicated to some guy riding his buffalo who can be found in the green goat market when his philosophy is understood? Not sure either, but that is what I read!
To end this little tour a Chengdu's temples is Wenshu. This is more of a monastery than a temple again, with lovely shaded gardens to wander and cool off in. Just past the entrance is an 11 story pagoda
Right outside are a few streets selling all sorts of tourist tat and several places to buy grub, which just completes the morning out as the little people were starting to moan!
This was a lovely way to spend a morning. Once you are off the main roads there is very little traffic and it is mostly flat and very pretty.
Another popular option is to take a bamboo punt down the river. Although I have to say, this place was much busier than where we went from. Apparently, it's cheaper and shorter so very popular. They punt downstream, take off the seats, then man-handle the rafts onto a truck and drive back up. You frequently see these lorries piled ridiculously high with the rafts. Despite how it looks, it was a really peaceful hour or so floating down the river.
The rafts only last about three months as the bamboo wears out through crossing the weirs in the river constantly.
However, it is the countryside that is the real star attraction.
This will be a blog about my latest shots and what I liked or was trying to do with them
I am a teacher of Economics and have worked in various schools in Europe & Asia. One of the things I love doing is getting out and about with my camera.
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