Day 48

Trip Start Sep 14, 2006
Trip End ??? ??, 2007

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Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Breakfast at Mama's was another communal affair - a choice of tomato and egg or pancakes and bananas. I went for the former and it came with thick bread too so I got a good feed. Today we walked through Lijiang to see the Black Dragon Pool. Lijiang is separated into two parts, the New Town and the Old Town. The Old Town is almost a pedestrianised zone where no cars are allowed except for the odd taxi or delivery vehicle. Its roads are thin and cobbled and it feels like going back in time to walk along them. Much of it has been rebuilt since a 1990's earthquake and it clearly knows its own appeal to tourists.

The Black Dragon Pool costs a whopping 60 yuan to enter, but has some of the most photogenic views in South West China. The photo everyone comes for is one with the pool itself, then the park's pagoda building and then the Yulong Xueshan (Jade Dragon Snow) mountain behind. The view is as good as promised and I got some good photos. The Yulong Mountain is 5500 metres high, which is about two thirds the height of Everest so it's a biggy! Lijiang is already at an altitude of 2800 metres or so and the smoggy mist that the rest of the country suffers with hasn't made its way here - so finally some clean air!

In the park we came across a school teaching an old religion called Dongba. The religion and language that goes with it is threatened with extinction and the few teachers and students here are striving to keep it going. The 69 year old teacher we met only speaks Dongba (no Chinese at all) and what makes the written language unique is that it's the only one left to use pictograms and not letters or characters. I learnt the Donga pictograms for "Happy Birthday" and then shared some lunch with the students as it was around that time. The lunch and talk was free but I left a donation to show my appreciation.
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