Filling in some blanks

Yangshuo Travel Blog

 › entry 8 of 13 › view all entries

Well, I thought I had some new and great ideas to enable me to post photos, but so far all have failed.  I even tried posting to another photo service,, but they didn't load there, either.  My conclusion is that the internet bars I've been using -- and maybe all internet access here -- blocks uploads of photos because I've been following instructions exactly.  I'll try once more from an individual computer in a guesthouse maybe tomorrow and see if that works.  Otherwise I'll wait till I get back to Beijing and see about doing it there.  I'm very frustrated, and I know any readers must be, too.

I'm now in Yangshuo for several more days and am enjoying having no agenda, no alarm clock setting, no nothing.  I've dropped from an elevation of 10,000+ feet to about 450, or that's what a website shows as the "average" elevation for Guilin, anyway, which is about 40 miles up the road.  With the elimination of altitude issues is the addition of HEAT issues.  The airline announcement on landing on the 26th said the ground temperature was 90 F. but I'd bet my sunscreen that it's a lot higher than that.  Today's forecast was for 34 C., and since 30 is 86F, I don't want to even try and convert it.

My pattern has been to get up around 8 and drink a cup of coffee from grounds brought from home in my unbreakable French press and sit on my balcony overlooking a pond with birds chirping in the nearby bamboo and other trees.  Just wait til you see the pictures!!!  Then I arm myelf for the day with essentials and head for the Internet Cafe or to nowhere, really.  At lunchtime I have some breakfast or lunch and head back to my airconditioned room at the Morning Sun Hotel to have a xiuxi (siesta) until the worst heat of the afternoon is past.  Then venture out in the early evening to people watch, find a nice spot for dinner, and retire.

My plan is/was to rent a bike and get out into the countryside -- but not in this heat.   Tonight I've booked tickets to an elaborate show a few miles out of town that is said to be magnificent.  It was created by the famous Chinese film director, Zhang Yimou, some of whose films you may have seen:  Hero, To Live, Raise the Red Lantern, and many more shown abroad.  I'll report back on that.  I'm a bit under the time gun because the Chinese National Holiday starts Oct. 1 and most people are off work through the 7th.  They're expecting a massive inundation here and hotel prices are skyrocketing.  I have to decamp my hotel for another one because the MS will be full. (In lieu of my own photos, you can check out this hotel at  Also, my net one will be the White Lion, just around the corner, at

Well, what I wanted to do here is return to Lijiang and make some additions to my experiences there.  One of these is traveling about 10 mi. north of town to Yuhu, where botanist and anthropologist Joseph Rock rented a home for many years.  When my friend Yvonne and I visited in 1998, we had to ask around a lot to find out where he lived and when we got there a man who said his grandfather was Rock's manservant, was starting to renovate it.  I took some photos of the man and his son, at the time a little kid, and made copies to take back this trip.  I learned this guy had sold the home and moved nearby, and the new owner finished the "renovation" which includes at least one building that wasn't there before, a pond, but the main building retains its character from before.  There are some artifacts from the time Rock was there from 1923 until the '40s that are interesting and I guess worth the Y15 entry fee.  The current caretaker recognized the earlier one and found his son for me, who is now late teens-ish.  I gave him the photos of him as a little boy and of his father and other kids and he was thrilled.

As I was leaving Lijiang after the Zhongdian excursion, I found a 2006 biography of Rock by Jim Goodwin and published in Hong Kong.  I've been reading it and find there's a lot more to the man than the usual that you hear, that he collected plant specimens, wrote articles for National Geographic, and eventually probed the Naxi "Dongba" culture and even is said to have saved the pictographic language by writing a dictionary (which is available at the U. of Tenn. library!).

He was originally commissioned by one wing of the US government to go to Burma to find a plant reputed to treat leprosy in 1921.  He was successful and then commissioned again to go to Yunnan, this province, to look for a blight-resistant chestnut tree.  Again he was successful and to hear Goodwin tell it, saved the US tanning industry.  Another of his loves was photography and he carried around a huge kit of glass slides, chemicals, etc. and happened upon a Dongba medicine man who evidently cured a Naxi man's dental eruptions which Rock was unable to help earlier.  He talked them into letting him photograph a recreation of the scene and sent it to National Geographic, which published it somewhere in the mid-20s.  He continued traveling around with a huge retinue carrying his collapsible bathtub and phonograph player and befriended chieftans and others in Yunnan and neighboring provinces.  The 1929 stock market crash dried up National Geographic's funding for such expeditions, so Rock returned to live outside Lijiang and work to preserve the Naxi culture which, even in the 1930s, he feared was being overrun by the Han Chinese!

Well, my time here is about up for now so I'll continue later.  Bye for now;

bowles says:
Jean, you must try to get your observations on this trip published. NG, perhaps?
Posted on: Sep 30, 2006
travelman727 says:
Jean, you're doing a FANTASTIC job of documenting your extraordinary adventures! I'm sure you will have no problems when you get back to Beijing.
Posted on: Sep 29, 2006
JadeintheRough says:
Thanks! (drip, drip, drip)
Posted on: Sep 28, 2006
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