Melanie Spiller & Coloratura Consulting
A Tonic for Ramshackle Wordsmiths
Copyright Melanie Spiller 2011. Do not copy without permission.
Letters from China: January 4, 2010
I’m leaving in the morning (yikes! Do I have enough socks?), going on a tour with my 80-year-old dad and some friends of my dad (who
are Chinese). We’re going for three weeks, with a plan to meet the minority people of China (there are 50+ minorities, all of whom
are celebrated and encouraged to remain intact and separate by the Chinese government.) It DOES seem kinda nervy to go to China in
January and then go to Turkey in June, but I will console myself by either going to Egypt or Greece next year. J
On the last
trip, my dad and the gang did the Silk Road, and we will do a small corner of it that they missed last time. We’re starting in Chengdu,
which is reported to be very pretty by friends and Chinese food delivery guys alike. From the guidebook and them, I gather that it’s
sort of Aspen—people go there from Beijing and Taiwan and such. But we’re not settling in, oh no. Next we go to Lijiang, Tiger Leaping
Gorge (look this one up, it is very beautiful, plus has a cool folk tale about it) and on to Songzanlin monastery and a Nixi pottery
village. The focus of this trip is autonomous minority groups (like the Nixi and the Lisu), so there will be lots of arts and crafts
and photos of people whose everyday wear involves vivid colors and interesting shapes.
Next, we go on to Shaxi to see the ancient
Buddhist carvings at Shibaoshan and the Stone Treasure Mountain Grottos (look these up too) and off to Dali to see a Bai village,
an ancient wall gate and a rare sighting, a Catholic church. From there, we fly to Guilin, where we’ll see a Dazai village and trek
to the top of the mountain to see rice terraces and more minority villages. Next, we’ll go to the Huyang Lou village, which means
long hair, so I expect to be very popular there. It is another minority place. I will certainly be the minority blond in this minority
After that, we’re on the Goading village near Dudong, which is well off the tourist path, apparently, so they will find us interesting
too. Then to the Batuan Wind and Rain bridge which sounds like quite an architectural feat. Then on to Basha for more minority villages,
including one where they make their dresses shine with egg whites. Hmm. Next, off to Zhaoxing to see the largest Dong village in China.
The Dong are also Hmong, depending on where you’re from and who you’re talking to.
Then, because things won’t have been interesting
enough, we will take a river cruise on the Beijiang River and enjoy a folk dance and wedding ceremony at a Miao village. Note that
the Beijiang River is not the Beijing River. Apparently, we will see horse fighting, which I am not too thrilled about, and cormorant
fishing, which also seems kind of mean.
Then we cruise down the Li River to Yangshuo and see a performance of some sort. In the morning,
we’ll go to a cave and then a fishing village. Next, we’ll travel by golf cart to Yongcun village and Moon Hill, and go bamboo rafting
on the Yulong River. Then we’ll head back to Guilin airport and head off to Korea. We will spend 12 hours day touring (aimlessly,
I gather) in Seoul, and then home to SFO.
Sound fun? Wish you were going?
Stay tuned for letters from China.
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