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Elaine and Peter’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 22 Sep 2011

Location: Dali, China

MapA busy start to the day. We set off early this morning for the village of Xizhou-the Engkish term 'village' does not have the same meaning!!
However, we were all glued to the landscape we passed on the way-it was rice harvest time. The paddy fields were full of whole families, all working together. The crop is harvested manually-cut with a scythe, put into bundles, systematically and orderly laid in rows to dry, then beaten over a basket to separate the grains, the stems are then put in neat rows of little haystacks.. Transport was by traditional method-basket on the backs, or by a trailer drawn by a bike or rickshaw.
We stopped at the Yen family house, a disappointment, we thought it would be more personal-it was a rich family home now owned by the government and turned into a tourist attraction. Yet another tea ceremony, followed by the most bored of dancers doing the tea dance. Not the best of visits.
From here we went to an ordinary man's house, how squalid and primitive this seemed to us westerners, very poor.
The ensuing visit to the local market was fascinating, loads of photos of local dress and customs, traditional dress and foods, weighing tea, selling of live products, carts and rickshaws..we even watched a member of our party having a hair cut for 2 pounds 50 pence. A very brave man. Scalped!
The babies clothes caused amusement..babies were carried in slings on their mother's backs, wearing no nappy but trousers with a slit in the bottom for easy performing when required.
How simple is that!
We went from the sublime to the ridiculous.. to the Hand Embroidery house where the work was just stunning, we succumbed to temptation and purchased a lovely piece of work.
The government pays the local authority to set up schools in specialist crafts for the young women of the area. Their husbands have gone to the cities to work in factories so this way the women can sell their products and they are allowed to keep the profits as an income. The silks do not fade and the one we bought took the artist 2 years to complete.
After lunch we took a boat on Erhai Lake across to Fisherman's Island. The sky was blue so it was very enjoyable. The houses on the shore belonged to rich Chinese, what a difference in the village when we landed on the island. The homes were extremely primitive. The harbour was a fish market, this is the only diet on the island.This market had to be seen to be believed, will publish a photo..

Tomorrow we take the chair lift to the top of the mountain behind the hotel. this is the southern most point of the Himalayas.

Then we travel back to Kunming. The following night we take the 10 pm flight to Guilin. This should be good.