As January comes to an end, families all over China are preparing to celebrate the Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year. Woohoo!!! To ring in the new year, our group is headed first to the city of Lijiang 丽江, and we are going to be accompanied by a special guest, Dr. Sandra Bermann, from Princeton University! We’ll be leaving Kunming on a sleeper train the evening of January 25th, and we will arrive in Lijiang early the morning of the 26th.
We will be spending our first morning in the city at Baisha Old Town, where we will tour the Baisha Frescoes. Then, later in the day, we will explore the Naxi Dongba Cultural Center, which is located in Black Dragon Pool Park. The Naxi are an ethnic minority group in China who hail primarily from the Lijiang area. As our group’s focus of inquiry for this month is China’s ethnic minority groups, we are working to understand the culture and traditions of ethnic groups such as the Naxi, and this month, each of us has selected one of China’s 55 classified ethnic minorities to research. During the evening of the 26th, we will begin presentations on what we have learned.
For the morning of the 27th, our educators have planned a scavenger hunt! We will be holding our search within Lijiang’s Old Town, which has a history of more than 1,000 years and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After our little adventure, we will head over to the Mu Family Palace, where we will meet a Naxi woodcarver. This meeting will be followed by more student presentations as well as by a discussion on top of Lion Hill centered on the topic of cultural and ethnic tourism. To end the day, we will take some time to explore the city and, possibly, watch a performance by the Naxi Traditional Orchestra.
We are headed to the Zhiyun Tibetan Buddhist Temple first thing in the morning on the 28th. We have planned to chat with a few of the monks who currently live there. Then, once we have finished our talk, we will have the opportunity to enjoy lunch at a local Naxi family house with residents of the Lijiang Studio. After lunch, we are fortunate enough to be touring the local artist’s studio. We will then hear the remaining student presentations in the evening.
We leave Lijiang the morning of the 29th, when we will head 60km north to hike Tiger Leaping Gorge. This is one of the deepest and most scenic river canyons in the world! We plan to hike this area for a few days before heading back to Lijiang to rest in preparation for our rural homestays.
After taking some time to rest back in Lijiang, the group will head to La Shi Hai 拉市海 to begin our rural homestays. We will stay in the village from the 3rd to the 10th of February, during which we will get to celebrate Chinese New Year. Yay! The new year begins on the 5th, and we are all beyond excited to take part in what is the most important and largest of Chinese celebrations!
On February 11th, as the year of the pig finds its footing, we will return to our city lives in Kunming. From all of us in China, 新年快乐! Happy New Year!