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Sunday, April 29, 2007
Yunnan Trip Photos are online -vvv vwv

I've posted photos from my Yunnan trip here. I've kept them low-resolution this time.

Here are some photos from the collection with some interesting things I learned about some of the minority races.

I encountered primarily the Yi (彝族), Bai (白族) and Naxi (纳西) tribe on my trip. They are based in Kunming (昆明), Dali (大理) and Lijiang (丽江) respectively. For the Yi tribe, all women are referred to as Ashima (阿诗玛, as in the 1964 movie) and all men are A Hei Ge (阿黑哥). It feels quite strange having to call strangers 阿诗玛 and have the locals call me 阿黑哥. It sounds like you know each other when you really don't. For the Bai tribe, it's Jinhua (金花, literally golden flower) and A Peng (阿鹏). This should be familiar for those who have seen the popular 1959 movie "五朵金花".

For the Naxi tribe, it's Pan Jin Mei and Pan Jin Ge. The Naxi tribe reflects the interesting Dongba (东巴) culture. The Dongba script uses pictographs that look like children's drawings to me. Naxi women are a hardworking lot. I think Naxi tribe is men's paradise. Supposedly, if you are a men and you know "qin qi shu hua yan jiu cha" (zither, board game, calligraphy, painting, smoke, liquor, tea), you don't have to work, women will work their fingers to the bones for you. The best part is that slim women with fair complexion are considered low quality. Then again, maybe the tour guide was exaggerating.

Back to the Yi tribe, currently the second largest minority group after the Zhuang group in Guangxi. Here's a picture of the representative stone Ashima and a tourist dressed in Yi attire.

Notice the pointy thing in the headdress. They represent butterflies. Two upright triangles represent singlehood, one flattened triangle for attached ladies and two flattened triangles for married women. If you fancy a lady, you show it by touching those triangle thingies on her hat. What a brilliant system, no guessing games or awkward hints, everything is spelled out clearly.

This is a picture of a few Jinhuas wearing their traditional attire at this place where they show us the traditional way of welcoming guests with three different teas.

If I remember correctly, the middle or middle left is the bridal costume. Anyway, notice the headdress for the one on the extreme right. 大理 is famous for its four scenes of 风花雪月 (wind, flower, snow, moon). As the saying goes, "下关风、上关花、苍山雪、洱海月" (windy Xiaguan, flowers of Shangguan, snow on Cangshan mountain, reflection of the Moon at Erhai lake). These are all reflected in the head dress. The white streamers at the side represents wind. The front is full of embroidered flowers. The furry white rim represents snow and the crescent shape of the hat represents the Moon. Interesting eh?

Disclaimer: Most of the info is from the tour guide. I wouldn't know if he is making things up, which I suspect he is sometimes.

-- permalink --
Yiheng made
12:26 PM


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Sunday, April 22, 2007
If you ever go to Kun Ming -vvv

I went to 云南 with a tour group and this is what I have learnt about the place. 云南 is all about jade factories, TCM plants, silk suppliers, cheap electronics, more jade, more Chinese medicine and a bunch of cunning salesmen. That pretty much sums up my trip.

It's very sad because I really believe the place has a lot more to offer. I have had enough of that crap so on the last day, I broke off from the main group and went to explore some mountain (西山) instead. What a wise move. I will post the photos soon. But first, I feel that it is my duty to make some recommendations of what to do in 昆明 if you ever get stuck there for a day or two with a tour group like I did. So here's an itinerary of my design based on an hour's research at a Kun Ming bookstore.

First, visit 西山. If you happen to be in town on the third day of the third month in the Lunar calendar, it should be quite happening. As the saying goes, "三月三,耍西山", the locals visit the mountain on this festival to have picnics, eat noodles or whatever. I happened to be in town that day but the tour guide conveniently forgot to mention it, so I ended up visiting the mountain on the fifth.

I recommend going there in the morning via the cable car in the vicinity of the 云南民族村. Get a two-way ticket if you want to return to this attraction in the afternoon. 云南民族村 showcases the cultures of 26 minority races so it should be quite interesting. The reason I recommend this route is because the cliffs of 西山 faces east, so you should get good sunlight for photos in the morning.

If you like to watch artistic or cultural performances, you can check if 杨丽萍 is putting up any shows in town. I would have loved to catch her 云南映象 show but my timing was way off. She's a very accomplished dancer but being an ignorant Singaporean, I've never heard of her name until I saw her as Mei Chaofeng on TV.

Damn, I sure missed a lot. I shall return to 云南 someday and complete the tour. On my own this time.

-- permalink --
Yiheng made
6:27 PM


Welcome back. Yes, I'm sure tour groups can be a rip-off, cos local guides aren't paid squat they make it up through store commissions. But I'm pretty sure you all ended up on such a package cos everyone in your family was too lazy to plan the itinary for the trip.

The last tour package I went for was in Korea. The last. It pays to plan on your own.

By Blogger Soqcrates, at 11:56 PM  

Oh! Forgot to tell you. Was at the MIT Co-op two weeks back. I bought you the latest book by Paul Davies (this famous Nobel Laureate in astronomy who gave a lecture during Ipho Star-gazing night)
By Blogger Soqcrates, at 12:00 AM  

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Saturday, April 07, 2007
Do I look that old? -vwv

According to my company's human resource department, I am 107 years old.

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Yiheng made
11:51 AM


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Friday, April 06, 2007
Pulau Ubin Cycling Trip -vvv

Just returned from the Ubin cycling trip with some friends. The weather wasn't too bad, just a little hot. Some of the interesting things I saw along the way:

1. White-Bellied Sea Eagle. This is one of my favourite birds. I spotted one gliding just above the water while I was on the bumboat.

2. Oriental Pied Hornbills. Saw these a number of times, once even as close as less than 5 metres. They have quite a loud cry.

3. A startled Red Junglefowl ran into the undergrowth as I cycled past.

4. A bunch of tiny Golden Orb Spiders on a worn out web. Must have just emerged from eggs.

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Yiheng made
10:52 PM


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Free Hugs Ain't Free -vwv

This is quite bo liao but I was thinking about those guys who walk around with signboards displaying the words "Free Hugs" on them, when I realized they aren't really giving out free hugs at all. For every supposedly free hug they give you, you are giving them one back. It's a one for one exchange, not exactly my idea of free.

A truly free hug would be if I tell these people, "Go hug a tree!" and they do it, then that's a free hug.

-- permalink --
Yiheng made
10:32 AM


Are they giving them out in Singapore already? That was originally our idea.

I think when they mean 'free' they mean unconditional. It's perfectly up to the individual if they want a 'free' hug. Just stand as still as a tree and its yours for free. But most people do actually reciprocate...cos it's weird if you don't.

By Blogger Soqcrates, at 6:14 PM  

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