A trip to 13,450ft above sea level (4100m)
My lungs are slowly returning to normal after a wonderful trip to 13,450 feet above sea level. The amazing thing to me was that I’ve spent most my life looking at Mt. Rainer in Washington State, which tops out around 14,000 ft. I was 13,450 and still looking up…way up! I’ve geo tagged the following pictures. Make sure you click on Satellite view to see the real picture of the area. So here are my reflections on the trip:
On our first day we rented horses and rode for 3 hours from 3100m to 4100m. The most beautiful three hour horse ride you can imagine. The air was clean fresh and easy to breathe. The only down side was it was a three hour ride up and a three hour ride back down…and my backside is still paying for it. 😉 I created a 360 degree view of Wen Hui the village that we rode into. It was a beautiful valley in the middle of the mountains. There’s even a cute cowgirl in the picture. 😉
The next day we took a trip out of the tourist center of Lijiang to some of the surrounding villages. We met this lovely old couple. She is 82 and he is 80. They have lived their whole lives in the hills outside Lijiang. Behind me you can see part of their new house that their son built for them. Made of cement and bricks…they don’t like it. There old house was on this same foundation. The couple wouldn’t allow their son to destroy it so instead they moved the whole house log by log behind this one and rebuilt it. They do not have running water or electricity. The old lady had a cold and asked if we had any medicine, which I found odd. I did have some Tylenol Cold with me to help combat a stuffy nose I was fighting and the thinning of the air. I gave her the pack and she was very grateful. They had the most amazing view from their house looking down hill at a man made reservoir. The government has given them about 20 acres of land to farm. On that land they are expected to grow enough food to feed themselves and sell/trade with others for other crops. In this region of Lijiang, they grow mainly potatoes and field corn. The field corn is as good as gold because it’s food for pigs which is the ‘meat of the rich’ so they trade their dried corn for rice, vegetables and other needs. They are happy, they have food, shelter, and clothing. They have 4 sons and 1 daughter. We met the youngest son.
Now here comes the fun part. This area of China is based on a matriarchal society. Meaning women are in control…and control they do…but with that comes the hard work. This photo says it all. This young lady is carrying on her back a dresser that was given to her as part of her dowry by her family when they were married. (The son is the youngest of the old couple above) We watched as this woman carried two of these dressers on her back while her husband carried pillows and blankets from the bed. It was facinating. We watched 50 and 60 year old women carry baskets of corn, rice, lettuce, and everything else on their backs while the guys sat around playing cards, driving trucks, and shooting the bull. In their culture, you want to have girls, because the land stays with the girls and the men marry into the family. This young couple we were told were a good match, because they were the second from each family to marry so the two families now work together on 40 acres of land. This house they are moving into is across a small court yard from the older couple above. All of the family members live within shouting distance from each other. The children are raised by everyone in the family, it is very much communal living.
I tried to get my wife to buy into this..which didn’t work so well. I still ended up carrying the backpack to the airport. I do admit some commonalities with a matriarchal society. Understanding who is in control is the first step to a successful marriage.
The last photo goes to show just how connected of a world we live in. In Lijiang Internet was available, and not just available but being used. I wish I would have had my camera the last night we were out for a walk as I saw an old man sitting an inch from the screen trying to read a web page. There where two young girls playing an online game as they waited for customers in a store. There were countless people on Yahoo and MSN messenger chatting in their stores. Our guide tried to get his 14 year old son to come on a trip with us, but he wanted to play on the computer instead. The most fascinating part for me was bargaining on prices of items we bought using cell phones. The store owner would put in a price and I would then type in my price. All on a cell phone. Here I was, 3100 meters above sea level and the Internet and the connection of the web were bringing these people together. Allowing them to be a part of the connected world. At 3100 meters…the world is getting flatter.