After having read Chatwin's book "The songlines", so many people perhaps have dreamt of the old Naxi culture and the fascinating story of Joseph Rock. I am sorry to say that the old Lijiang
doesn't exist anymore. I have been there twice recently for the snow mountain music festival when some friends of mine were playing in a band exhibiting there. You find a peculiar atmosphere as soon as you arrive. It is too crowed, too full of shops, too commercial to be real. Unfortunately, it has been damaged by a terrible earthquake and the local government had to rebuilt so many houses. And, to be honest, they respected the traditional style. Anyway, it is more a market place than a real city today. If you want to see the real naxi people and what remains of their culture you have to reach the small villages up in the surrounding mountains. I remember in 1998 it took me something like 30 hours by bus to reach Lijiang and Zhongdian, near the tibetan border, from Kunming. Today they have built new airport and have built new highways, so that you may get there much easier. That is good, I reckon. There is nothing to blame about it. This is still the long wave of the Deng Xiaoping's economical reforms started in 1978, when all of a sudden China turned into privatisation. But the naxi do not live in Lijiang today. That's why as I get there again I always ask myself: "Where's the real Lijiang gone?"