The “must have” photo of Lijiang is the Jade Dragon mountain reflected in Black Dragon Pool or the old houses along cobbled streets. To capture the romantic view of Lijiang you have to get up at 6 in the morning to avoid the tourist crows. So I decided to take a few pics of Lijiang as it really is most of the time.
There are hundreds of shops selling scarfs. Looking at the pic, you might think that they are selling locally made handicrafts but actually the scarfs are mass produced somewhere in the east coast. A new favorite is Indian clothing. Hundreds of those shops as well.
And the new hit product are African drums…
And naturally there are shops selling tea as we are in Yunnan (home of the famous Pu’er tea) and in a town along the ancient tea-horse caravan route.
There are some locally made products like this guy selling home made pickled chili or Naxi grandmother selling a rice dish.
But most of the Naxi people have sold their properties and moved out of old town. Lijiang got to the UNESCO World Heritage list after the old town survived a massive earthquake and also because of it’s ancient canal system. As far as I know, the canals are still world heritage but the town itself has lost the status. I’ll have to check this, though. And the old town has grown bigger and bigger every year so that should tell you how old most of it actually is.
There was nothing on the hill in 1999. Now it’s built full of “ancient” houses and there is also a “300-hundred- year” old pagoda on top of it.
Besides hijacking most of the tourism up north to Shangri-la and Meili Mountains, Lijiang also has appropriated parts of Tibetan culture. Tibetan medicine, dried yak meat and yak milk are sold everywhere. The Naxi have water buffaloes, not yaks.
Here you can buy a fish and set it free in the canals. Then there are men waiting with nets down stream to catch the fish so they can be sold again.
These ladies are wearing the modern version of traditional Naxi dress. All the waitresses and hotel workers are supposed to wear the dresses, regardless of their actual nationality and most of the people working in Lijiang are not Naxi. They are Han or other minorities. Previously a friend of mine built fireplaces to houses in old town but the old town government banned them as traditional Naxi houses didn’t have fireplaces. Well, the traditional houses also didn’t have showers or toilets but those are still allowed. And how “authentic” is that dress?
Naxi have an ancient script called Dongba script which was used in their holy scriptures. Now you can find your way to the toilet also in Dongba. Not that anyone can read it besides a few remaining religious specialists.
But then on the square in front of McDonald’s I found some old Naxi ladies and gentlemen and a few younger ones as well dancing the traditional circle dances…
Still, all in all Lijiang to me is a Naxi culture Disneyland.