a man hawked a loogie (sp?) onto the floor of the bus taking us from the terminal to the plane. about a minute later, the guy next to the spitter drops his cup of coffee, splattering only the spitter. jon says it's the world spitting back at him (gravity: "take that!"). i like it when karma is swift...i felt quite righteous.
en route to our hotel in lijiang, we passed a man squatting on the back of a tricycle, carrying a hawk on his arm. apparently, hunting is a popular pasttime amongst the native naxi ppl (by the way, that x is soft to make a shhhh sound...so the word doesn't sound like nazi at all). our guide says 1 hawk eats the equivalent of 2 cows in a year. i wonder how many quails it's got to catch to make up for that.
and now some color on the local culture: Dongba (as practiced by the naxi's). Dongba tribal culture is matriarchal and hellish from a girl's perspective. the women do all the work and inherit all the property. the men...cultivate their entertainment skills. a dongba woman prides herself on not letting the man lift a finger in manual labor. she wants her husband to be a very good conversationalist, so she makes him go and read while she slaves in the fields. in the old days, no one got married. the women slept in a big house, and the men would slip in at night and entertain them. if that's matriarchy, give me patriarchy any day.
the creation myth: in the beginning, there were 9 brothers and 7 sisters. the 9 brothers broke open the sky, and the 7 sisters broke open the earth. i guess then they got bored, so they got it on. the gods got mad and sent a flood. only 1 man survived. he procreated with a god's daughter, leaving 3 offspring: the progenitors of the tibetans, the bai tribe, and the naxi ppl. my favorite part of this myth is when they call on "the wise men and the able men"--which category do you fit in?
on our way thru the cultural museum, we saw a HUGE crossbow. it was taller than me, must've taken 2-3 ppl to shoot. i asked our guide what it's for--hunting. what did they hunt?--rabbits. WHAT?! upon further prodding--bears.
the curator also showed us some ancient barks with ancient writing. she said the barks will last forever b/c they're made from special trees. when asked how old these barks were--100 yrs (but apparently they have ones that're 600 yrs old in special storage, and some stored at harvard if you guys want to go take a look).
then we learned about the love suicides. marriages are arranged, since its a land based society, but love suicides are practically heralded as good life choices. the way the thing usually goes is this: the boy and the girl run for the hills, frolick in a cave for 2 days or so, and then they either 1)eat poison or 2)throw themselves off the cliffs (always make sure the boy goes first, giving him a gentle shove if necessary--this from our male guide who says it's b/c boys are more wishywashy about love vs life choices). according to the lore, those who die by love suicide achieve great peace in paradise; they ride deer for horses and use tigers to till their fields (apparently they still have to till fields, but i guess that says something about the work ethic of the society). weird. i mean, you don't like your arranged mate? come commit love suicide instead! no downside, we promise.
then we went to the old town, which only got older after the earthquake knocked down all the modern concrete buildings to allow for the erection of more "old" wooden buildings. its a nice, quaint place where backpackers spend months at a time. no cars allowed, only horses and i guess bikes (if you're suicidal and fancy hitting your face on the slippery cobblestones repeatedly). plenty of hostels and coffee shops and wifi. at night, a hopping club scene.
J really liked the rice cakes with brown sugar (above). I preferred the yak's milk yogurt. neither of us really liked the dongba baba (but it's hard not to buy b/c, well, who doesn't like saying the words "baba please").
we bought some native teas (pu'er is made here!) for our parents after an extensive tasting procedure. the tea lady discarded the first cups and used tweezers to handle everything. very professional. apparently, teas can cure all sorts of ailments, including obesity. tune in for next post's installment of lily's china vacation--transition free, we promise (and holy shit i'm long winded).
on a horse in old town square
for $10, you can hire one of these to take your wish down the river.