Tagged minorities

dragon clouds so high above – yunnan may 27-31

Lofty mountains and flowing waters, a wildflower for your hair and a mushroom for your umbrella. Yunnan in May has sprung to life, expanses of playful clouds drifting by snow mountains and river valleys. Come along with China Tea Leaves to discover some of our favorite places in colorful Yunnan.

Yunnan province is located in southwestern China, tucked between Tibet, Sichuan and Guangxi provinces, Myanmar, and Vietnam, and is one of the most diverse provinces in China, with dozens of ethnic minorities; flowers, mushrooms and other wildlife; and dramatic landscapes with the weather of eternal spring. This five day tour celebrates two distinctive cultures of Yunnan, that of the Bai people in Shaxi, and the Naxi people of Lijiang and Shuhe.

We will fly from Shenzhen direct to Lijiang (丽江 elev. 7900ft/2400m). There we will be picked up by private shuttle to head to Shaxi (沙溪 elev. 6890ft/2100m), a pristine valley with a well preserved Bai minority village and world class historical sites. The Bai people are a Sino-Tibetan ethnic group, known throughout Yunnan for their intricately carved architecture and fine cooking with local ingredients. Shaxi was an important trading post on the ancient Tea Horse Road, which connected Tibet to southern Yunnan and beyond, for centuries of trade of horses (from Tibet) and tea (from southern Yunnan).

Our hotel for two nights will be the Old Theatre Inn (alternative Miss May Hotel), located right inside a temple/theatre that served entertainment for the gods of the Bai people. We will visit the market area, with its temple and theatre complex, recognized by UNESCO for its articulate restoration. On our full day in Shaxi, we will journey into the rolling hills to find a secluded temple and the fascinating sculptural grotto of Shizhongshan.

From Shaxi we will head back to Shuhe (束河 elev. 8000ft/2440m) near Lijiang, another town located on the ancient Tea Horse Road. On the day of our arrival, we will stroll the colorful streets of Shuhe, in the view of the imposing Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, sampling the bounty of spring, while locals offer fresh berries, foraged walnuts and more.

On our full day in the Shuhe area, we’ll venture yet closer to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain to Baisha (白沙 elev. 8170ft/2490m), the capital of the region’s former Naxi kingdom, and today a small village that still holds its authentic, traditional feeling. We can chat with locals, taste unique street food, and hunt antiques and fabrics in the shops of the old town. We can also take a smooth hike from Baisha up to the Fuguosi temple, an active Tibetan Buddhist monastery, with grand views over the mountains and peaceful valley.

After one more night at our courtyard home at the Lazy Tiger Inn, we will visit one of the most classic sights of the Lijiang area, the Black Dragon Pool in Lijiang, before setting out on our return flight to Shenzhen.

After days dreaming in the heights amongst a rainbow of wildflowers and curling dragon clouds, you will return to Shenzhen with a vision of paradise in your mind’s eye and a burning desire to come back to Yunnan province.

Monday, May 27: Morning flight Shenzhen to Lijiang, shuttle to Shaxi
Tuesday, May 28: Hike and temple visit in Shaxi
Wednesday, May 29: Shuttle to Shuhe, visit Shuhe
Thursday, May 30: Visit Baisha, hike to Tibetan Buddhist monastery
Friday, May 31: Visit Lijiang, Afternoon flight Lijiang to Shenzhen

Price: 5280 per person (double occupancy)
Discount of 250 available for SWIC or ABNet members

Price includes: Round trip airfare from Shenzhen, local ground transportation in Yunnan, four nights (double occupancy) at quality courtyard hotels, meals, entrance tickets, travel insurance, and full service guide by Greta of China Tea Leaves.

(price based on current airfare Shenzhen-Lijiang; if airfare increases total price will be adjusted. so book early with Greta to get the best fares)
Not in Shenzhen? No problem. Contact me to find out the required arrival time in Lijiang airport to join the group.

Payment: by cash, or WeChat, deposit of 2500 at time of booking

Note: Much of this trip is at high elevation – 6890ft/2100m and higher. Travelers may feel slight effects of the elevation, but can usually adjust to normal activity level within 1-2 days. This itinerary includes some light hiking, but can be adjusted according to the level of the group. Please notify us of any health conditions when booking. China Tea Leaves is not responsible for any injuries or accidents sustained during the trip.

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

If adding me for the first time, be sure to mention Trips or Yunnan in your introduction.

or contact me by email (chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com)

harmonies from a hidden valley – guizhou nov 17-18

One of the most beautiful villages in China, hiking, rice terraces, minority culture…all on a two day trip from Shenzhen? Yes, and you can come join an easy escape to the smoke ringed mountains of Guizhou province.

We will be whisked away by high speed train to southeast Guizhou province, known as Qiandongnan, an autonomous region of the Miao and Dong minorities. This trip will focus on the area of Zhaoxing Dong Stockaded Village (肇兴侗寨), often mentioned as one of the most beautiful villages in all of China.

The image of a Dong village amid the hills appears as a gateway to another world, with tiered drum towers and ornate covered bridges peeking out from a tangle of wooden houses. The Dong build these elaborate wooden towers as meeting houses and communal singing halls. The “Wind and Rain” bridges are thoughtfully built throughout the town and countryside as places to rest and socialize while journeying from one place to another. Zhaoxing has one of the best collections of both types of these buildings, and the town is a beautiful sight in the misty dawn or glowing into the night.

The Dong are also known for their colorful embroidered dress, and for their grand singing tradition. They have passed down folk songs using layered a cappella harmonies.

You will be amazed at the hidden world we can discover within just a few hours from Shenzhen.

The basic plan:

Saturday

High speed train from Shenzhen North to Guizhou, with a transfer in Guangzhou
Shuttle to Zhaoxing Dong Village
Tour the village, with its many Wind-and-Rain bridges and Drum towers, unique features of Dong villages.
Visit the Dong Minority Culture Center and Weaving and Embroidery Museum
Dinner
Free time

Sunday

Breakfast and Dong Grand Song performance
Shuttle to Tang’an Stockaded Village, another Dong village, surrounded by rice terraces
Hike from Tang’an to Zhaoxing
Return to Shenzhen by high speed train

Price: Adult (double occupancy) 1680RMB
Child (1.2-1.5m, share with 1 or 2 adults) 980RMB

SWIC or ABNet members get 10% off

Dates: November 17-18
Depart from Shenzhen North Saturday 7:38am, return Shenzhen 9:45pm

Group size: 4-10

Includes high speed train tickets, hotel (double occupancy), village entrance and shuttle tickets, meals, travel insurance, and guide.

Note: This trip is being offered at a special price during the low season and as a new trip. Price may go up in the future, so book now to enjoy this price!

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

If adding me for the first time, be sure to mention Trips or Guizhou in your introduction.

or contact me by email (chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com)

october holiday adventure – 5-8 days in yunnan

 

Looking for an adventure for your October holiday? We’re gathering a group of intrepid travelers to venture to one of my favorite places in China, the northwest region of Yunnan province. This is a five-day trip taking place during the golden week in October 2018, extendable to 8 days including an optional hike.

Yunnan is the China of your dreams, with blue skies, colorful clouds, cobblestone villages, and mountain vistas. I’ve designed the trip to get to some lesser known places and skip the most crowded days of the national holiday, so you don’t have to worry about the crowds.

Yunnan province is located in southwestern China, tucked between Tibet, Sichuan and Guangxi provinces, Myanmar, and Vietnam, and is one of the most diverse provinces in China, with dozens of ethnic minorities; flowers, mushrooms and other wildlife; and dramatic landscapes with the weather of eternal spring.

We will fly into Lijiang (丽江 elev. 7900ft/2400m) to start our adventuring. First we’ll travel down to the Dali (大理 elev. 6480ft/1975m) region near the famous Erhai Lake. The Bai minority are the most populous in this area, with elegant ladies in colorful headdress working the markets, restaurants featuring local vegetables and even the Bai people’s own kind of cheese, and of course narrow lanes made lively with hand painted entrances and distinctive tie dyed fabrics.

We’ll also visit nearby Xizhou (喜洲), another Bai town, known for its daily market, ornate courtyard homes, and well known embroidery shops.

On our third day we will venture up to the Shaxi (沙溪 elev. 6890ft/2100m) valley, where green rice paddies and blue hills encircle the special town of Shaxi. The preservation of its central opera stage, temple and other distinctive buildings won an award from UNESCO. We’ll arrive here on Friday in time to catch the action at its market, frequented by villagers who come down from the hills for their weekly supplies.

On the fourth day we’ll head northward ascending to Shuhe and Baisha (束河,白沙 elev. 7900ft/2400m), in the region of Lijiang. Shuhe and Lijiang were stops on the old Tea Horse Road, which connected Tibet to southern Yunnan and beyond, for centuries of trade of horses (from Tibet) and tea (from southern Yunnan). This area is the home of the Naxi minority, with their own writing system and religion. We’ll stay in the relatively quiet town of Baisha, which was the former capital of the Naxi kingdom.

If departing on the 5th day (October 7), we’ll visit the Tea Horse Road museum in Shuhe in the morning before your flight, to send you off dreaming of wildflowers, clear running streams and mountain adventures.

If your holiday schedule allows, what better way to finish off your time in Yunnan than with a stunning 2-day hike in the Tiger Leaping Gorge?  (虎跳峡 elev. 6230-8690-6890ft/1900-2650-2100m). This is one of the most renowned hikes in the world, following a deep gorge along the Jinsha River, which becomes the Yangtze River as it flows from here through Sichuan province. Every view is breathtaking, gazing up at snow mountains so close you think you could reach out and touch them.

After one tough day of hiking, we will stay overnight in a guesthouse on the trail, and wake up to silent mountains looking on outside our window. We will continue hiking through farming enclaves, waterfalls and vistas to reach our shuttle back to Lijiang.

Our final night will be spent in Baisha, before we fly back from Lijiang to Shenzhen.

After days dreaming in the heights amongst a rainbow of wildflowers and prayer flags, you will return to Shenzhen with a vision of paradise in your mind’s eye and a burning desire to come back to Yunnan province.

Day 1: Fly to Lijiang, travel to Dali, visit Dali old town
Day 2: Visit Xizhou, market and crafts
Day 3: Travel to Shaxi, Sideng market and hiking
Day 4: Travel to Baisha
Day 5: Fly Lijiang to Shenzhen, or visit Shuhe
(optional Day 6: Tiger Leaping Gorge
(optional Day 7: Tiger Leaping Gorge
(optional Day 8: Fly from Lijiang)

Group size: 6-10 people

(Note: Much of this trip is at high elevation – 7900ft/2400m and higher. Travelers will feel the effects of the elevation, but can usually adjust to normal activity level within 1-2 days. The Tiger Leaping Gorge hike has some steep inclines and is at high elevation. Hiking at this elevation is tough and incurs a real risk of altitude sickness. There are donkeys available on the trail for those who feel uncomfortable, for an additional fee. The trail is in good condition, and no special prior hiking experience is necessary. But this hike is best suited for those in good physical shape. Please notify us of any health conditions when booking. China Tea Leaves is not responsible for any injuries or accidents sustained during the trip.)

Announcement: This trip has already been launched in agile mode to accommodate a group early bookers! If you are interested in joining this trip, just contact me and I will do my best to add you to our group! Please note some exclusions in the price due to ongoing registration.

This trip is already confirmed, so registering will remain open until Thursday September 27

Price:

3800RMB per person for 5 days, 4800RMB per person for 8 days.
Contact me for current price

Does not include airfare or meals. Price includes hotels (double occupancy), private shuttle transportation for 5 days, travel insurance, and personal English speaking guide. Price based on hotels available at time of writing; please contact me for current price and inclusions.

Recommended flights: Oct 3: CZ8581 SZX-LJG, Oct 10: CZ8582 LJG-SJX. Approximately 3100RMB. If you need help booking your flight, just contact me. I can book it for you for a small fee.

discounts available for ABNet members or SWIC members

Single supplement: 500RMB for 5 days, 750RMB for 8 days option

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

If adding me for the first time, be sure to mention Trips or Yunnan in your introduction.

or contact me by email (chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com)

an evening along erhai lake

On one of our last evenings in Yunnan, I took a short walk at dusk around the Xiangyangxi Village (向阳溪村) where we were staying on the Erhai Lake of Dali prefecture. As Yunnan is located relatively well west in the single Beijing Standard Time zone of China, the sun wouldn’t set until well past eight o’clock. This made for very leisurely dinners around the communal table of the guest houses we stayed in, allowing time to chat with the owners and our traveling companions as the blue skies tinged violet, then rose, and then were taken over in a dazzling sunset filling the heavens with a multitude of colors.

erhai

The name of Erhai Lake (洱海) describes it as a sea shaped like an ear (耳), and its north-south elongation makes it look like a Daoist immortal’s drooping earlobes from above. Xiangyangxi Village lies towards the northern tip of the lake, closer to the old Bai market town of Xizhou than to Dali Old Town. Dali prefecture includes the entire region of the lake, with more than a dozen villages circling the famed waters of Erhai.

During the day the lake ring road buzzes with vespas rented by holidaying twenty-somethings. But in the evening, the village streets turn serene again—a few kids goofing off with musical instruments, Bai women in petunia pink kerchiefs chatting on a doorstep, a man finishes his cigarette before returning home. The east gate of Bai homes is traditionally the grandest, decorated with beautiful stenciling and fantastically intricate stone carvings. I admired many of these in the dimming light—blue and ochre paintings against white stucco and grey stone. A temple protruded from the street out into the rice paddies. Since its gates were already locked, I could only admire the wind diverting wall, the 屏风 (pingfeng), an element in feng shui design, across from the main entrance. It was covered in symbols and mythical creatures, some of which I recognized and some of which may only be understood by the Bai people of this very village. Back in the guest house, I watched the last light of the sunset fade to stars behind a tile roof decoration, the clay cat of the Bai house, which absorbs bad energy. A few hours left in Yunnan, to spend between the stars and the quiet lapping of the ink dark lake.