Melanie Spiller & Coloratura Consulting
A Tonic for Ramshackle Wordsmiths
Copyright Melanie Spiller 2011. Do not copy without permission.
Letters from China: January 15, 2010
After LiJiang, we went to Shangri-La. The government and one very rich American have decided to turn this into a tourist place, but right now, it is a lot of empty buildings and new roads and construction. The temperature never rose above freezing and there is no heat in the rooms, which makes an electric blanket a very welcome friend. The food is amazing here, as everywhere, with particularly varied and yummy noodles.
After Shangri-La, we went to Dali (that had a hotel called the Salvador Dali, heh), which has a medieval old town and a very modern pagoda. It looks like tourism is the trade here already.
Right now, I am in an unnamed village way high in the mountains. From Dali we flew to Guilin, which is an ultra-modern city, then drove for two hours up mountain roads, then walked five miles uphill (about 2000 feet in elevation) on slate steps (we hired porters for the bags)--the ultimate Stairmaster! This part of the world is hills covered with terraced rice paddies and the people wear the most amazing costumes every day. Black pleated skirts and wraps around the middle with bright pink embroidered belts like a cummerbund. They have knee-length hair that they pile into a bulging black hat that is also wrapped with pink and yellow embroidery.
The place is heated by a charcoal brazier in the middle of the dining room. No heat in the rooms but there is a computer with Windows XP on it in every room. Heh. Oh, did I mention that it is freezing and we walked up the hill in a mist, and there is no view from the top because we are in the middle of a cloud? If it snows tonight, we will stay here, as it is too dangerous to walk down in the snow. Our leader says that we can ride in a sedan chair if we want, but that seems like it would be more fun when it is less dangerous.
They served us some stir-fried pumpkin with ginger that was amazingly good. There will be some of that at home. :-)
There don't seem to be a lot of post offices, so you probably won't be getting postcards.
Well, it's bedtime for this tired traveler. (It's also too cold to stay out of bed for long. My little thermometer says 48 degrees and it's sitting next to the heated bed. I would like to be sitting next to the heated bed too. Brrrr.)
This is amazing! I'm sooooo glad I came!