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Baisha Murals

The Naxi Orchestra

When walking on the ancient streets of Lijiang Old Town, you will undoubtedly hear the wonderful Naxi Ancient Music, the traditional Naxi classical music that is regarded as a 'living fossil of Chinese music.' You will wonder where the melody comes from and who are performing?

While in Lijiang, make sure you catch the incredible Naxi Orchestra, so perfectly fitting the mood of the old town that it's hard to imagine them existing anywhere else. Using antique instruments, the performers are the last musicians in China playing Song tunes derived from the Taoist Dong Jin scriptures. The tradition apparently arrived in Lijiang with Kublai Khan, who donated half of his court orchestra to the town after the Naxi chieftain helped his army cross the Yangtze River, and it remained in vogue here long after being forgotten in the rest of the country. Banned from performing for many years, the orchestra regrouped after the Cultural Revolution under the guidance of Xuan Ke, though the deaths of many older musicians have reduced their repertoire from over 60 to just 23 pieces.

The orchestras are famous for their 'three-olds': first, old men (most of the players are over 70 years old); second, old musical instruments (many are antiques dating back more than 100 years, some of which can not be seen in other places); third, old songs (all are antiquated classical music). Members of the bands are drawn from all kinds of occupations including teachers, artisans, farmers, butchers, clerks, etc. Naxi Ancient Music Bands have been invited to perform in Hong Kong, Great Britain, America, Holland, Belgium and Norway, exercising great influence and gaining attention from all over the world.

Old Town of Lijiang

As home to Naxi minority, Lijiang consists of two towns. The New Town and the Old Town are divided geographically by Lion Hill. The New Town was developed during the latter part of the 20th century and is rather like a boring urban sprawl. The Old Town was founded some 800 years ago in late Song Dynasty and is an architectural gem (although it looks like a huge ink stone, from which image it derived its name - Dayan or Big Ink Stone). The Old Town suffered serious damage in a 1996 earthquake, but is undergoing serious restoration with original Naxi style. With Sifang Street at the core of Dayan, the town spreads out in all directions and is crisscrossed by a labyrinth of streets and alleyways. Most of the dwellings are brick-and-tile structures with carved doors and painted windows. Although Dayan is a compact community, there is always space for a garden. Traffic across the rivers along the street is facilitated by a large number of tiny stone bridges. In 1997 it was included on the World Heritage List by UNESCO.

The description of UNESCO.ORG:

The Old Town of Lijiang, which is perfectly adapted to the uneven topography of this key commercial and strategic site, has retained a historic townscape of high quality and authenticity. Its architecture is noteworthy for the blending of elements from several cultures that have come together over many centuries. Lijiang also possesses an ancient water-supply system of great complexity and ingenuity that still functions effectively today.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

About ten miles north of Lijiang town is Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. It is also call Yulongxueshan. Its landscape includes one of the southernmost glaciers in the modern world. Shanzidou, the main peak of the mountain at 18,360 feet above sea level, looks like a gigantic dragon clad in white snow all year round. The view of the massif from the gardens at the Black Dragon Pool (Heilong Tan) in Lijiang is noted as one of China's finest views. Access to the mountain is provided by a chairlift to Dragon Spruce Meadow, halfway to the glacier peak.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is a sanctuary for rare animals and wild plants. In fact, one fourth of all plant species in China can be found here and 20 primeval forest communities shelter a big family of 400 types of trees and 30 kinds of animals which are protected by the state. These species live in different temperature levels and create different kinds of views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The 13 peaks, which have the altitudes of at least 4,000 meters, are covered by snow all year round; the mountain is called the 'Natural Glacier Museum' for it has all types of glacier.

Shanzidou has been climbed only once, on May 8, 1987, by an American expedition. The summit team comprised Phil Peralta-Ramos and Eric Perlman. They climbed snow gullies and limestone headwalls, and encountered high avalanche danger and sparse opportunities for protection.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Map

Tourist map of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Gulangyu

Gulangyu Island is a tourist island off the coast of Xiamen, Fujian province. Visitors can reach it by steamship from Xiamen City in about 5 minutes. The island became a foreign colony following the Treaty of Nanking in 1842.

As a place of residence for Westerners during Xiamen's colonial past, Gulangyu is renowned for its architecture and for hosting China's only piano museum, giving it the nickname of "Piano Island" or "The Town of Pianos" or "The Island of Music". There are over 200 pianos on this island.

The Chinese name also has musical roots, as gu lang means drum and waves. So-called is because of the sound generated by the ocean waves hitting the reefs. Yu means "islet".

The island of Gulangyu is a pedestrian only destination, where the only vehicles on the islands are several fire trucks and passenger transport vehicles. The narrow streets on the island, together with the architecture of various styles around the world, give the island a unique appearance.

Sunlight Rock is located in the south-central part of the island. It is the island's highest point with an altitude of 92.7 meters (304 feet). it appears superb and grand when seen from afar.

The Shuzhuang Garden is also very famous. First built in 1931 on the southside of the island, Shuzhuang Garden was once a private villa. It became a garden park open to the public in 1955. It is divided into two parts-the Garden of Hiding the Sea (Canghaiyuan) and the Garden of Making-Up Hills (Bushanyuan). It is exquisitely designed. As a complex of Chinese traditional gardens, Shuzhuang Garden entices visitors so much that one cannot help but want to see inside.

Shangri-La Location & Zhongdian Map

Shangri-La County is located in the confluence of Tibet, Yunnan and Sichuan province. It forms one of three counties that make up the Diqen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northwestern most Yunnan. Tibetans call their home Gyelthang. The prefecture touches Tibet in the northwest, Ganzi and Muli in Sichuan to the north, Lijiang to the south and Nu Jiang (Salween River) Lisu Autonomous prefecture to the west.

Shangri-La Introduction & Travel Map

Shangri-La County is a primarily Tibetan county in northwestern Yunnan Province in southwest China and the capital of Diqen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. It was formerly called Zhongdian County but was renamed after the fictional land of Shangri-La in the James Hilton novel in 2001. The local Tibetan population refers to it by the name Gyalthang. "Shangri-La" or "Zhongdian" may also refer to Jiantang Town, the capital of the county.

Many travelers use the county town as a gateway into Tibet, either travelling many days overland by Jeep to Lhasa, or by flying from the city's airport. However, the town itself is a tourist destination, primarily due to the nearby Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, Pudacuo National Park, and Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Shangri-La Area

It covers an area of 11,613 square kilometers.

Area code: 0887
Postal code: 674400

Shangri-La Population

It has a population of 130 thousand.

What to see & Shangri-la Attractions

Highlights include:

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, reportedly the biggest Tibetan monastery complex in the province
Bai Shui Tai, a picturesque limestone formation
Tiger Leaping Gorge, a sheer gorge which has a well marked trail and good tourist infrastructure
Bita Hai, a lake featuring a small island in its middle, a popular destination
Da Bao Si, a small but famous monastery approximately 15 km out of town

Xishuangbanna Map & Location

Xishuangbanna or Sipsongpanna is an autonomous prefecture in southern Yunnan Province. The capital city is Jinghong, the largest settlement in the area and one that straddles the Lancang (Mekong) river. Its latitude is between 21.10 and 22.40 degrees north. And its longitude is between 99.55 and 101.50 degrees east.

Xishuangbanna Introduction & Jinghong City Map

The native name literally means "twelve thousand rice fields". Xishuangbanna is the home of the Dai people. The region sits at a lower altitude than most of Yunnan, and has a tropical climate. It is fast becoming a sought after tourist destination. Passiflora xishuangbannaensis is a recently discovered passionflower species that is endemic in Xishuangbanna.

Xishuangbanna Area

It covers an area of 19,700 square kilometers.

Area code: 0691
Postal code: 666100
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