Interesting shenanigans at high altitude
- Blog Post by: Megan Ruan
- July 3, 2011 - 10:59 PM
In order to spare your attention span, I'm only going to write a small blurb about each of the most memorable things that have happened on this trip. Yunan is a province located in the south-western part of China, in the direction of Tibet. It's altitude is from 3000-4000+ meters above sea level.
First of all...Shangri-la. You may have heard of this city only as the name of a Chinese restaurant, but let me tell you, it's probably because the word rolls off the tongue well --not because the food is so great.
If I had to pick the two most unique and culturally distant aspects of Shangri-la, they would be marriage customs and the purposes of the five fingers on your hand.
In Shangri-la, there are three ways to get married. The first one is traditional-- a man and a woman. The second is a form of polygamy, in which one man marries multiple women. In this case, the women must be sisters. The third is where one woman marries multiple men, who must all be brothers. It's not as awkward as you might think. The woman isn't married to all the brothers at once! They kind of take turns being the husband, and when it's not their turn, they travel as nomads with their yaks and musk ox.
What does each finger mean in Shangri-la? THUMB: thumbs-up equals good job, just like in the US; INDEX: points out the direction of travel, but never at a person; MIDDLE: Shangri-lains like to eat a delicious paste made of highland barley, one of their three main crops. Supposedly, if the cook swirls her middle finger around in the pot while singing a special song, the dish will be extra tasty; FOURTH: Before taking the first sip of their first cup of wine, one must dip their fourth finger and thumb into the cup three times, flicking a drop of liquid into the air each time. The first drop is to honor the sky, the second the earth, and the third, God. And the PINKY: It is for picking one's nose. Just kidding!
Actually, I'm not. Strange as it sounds, that's really what your pinky is for! Many people leave their pinky nails long just for this purpose.
Next...LiJiang. This city was pretty uneventful, except for a shopping street called GuCheng (Old Town). It is an town which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1996 and then restored. The one thing I learned was that you can not buy something at the first store you see. You absolutely must sift through at least three before you make a purchase. Or else you WILL BE CHEATED! Like me :(
Lastly...Kunming. The Flower capital of China. It is also known for its famous and enormous rock garden.
Q: Are these flowers real or fake?
A: They are real, dried flowers. Because they are specially dehydrated, they can stay in shape for seven or eight years. AND if you put them in water, they will turn into fresh flowers! Unfortunately, it only works one way; you can't dry them out again.
Here is a very unique rock formation we found at the rock garden, which formed from an earthquake.
And now, we can test your observation skills. Do you see the baby elephant and its mother?
How about the dog howling at the sky/moon?
If you can see the dog, you have a better imagination than I do!
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed that teeny taste of China's Yunan province. Besides the risk of altitude sickness, it is a pretty cool place to go.
© 2013 Star Tribune