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life's adventures This is the story of my wanderings through Asia

SuHe (LiJiang Snow Mountain Music Festival)

CHINA | Sunday, 3 October 2010 | Views [1149]

The starting day of the festival we were in no rush to get there. Entering into a café for breakfast that had Fat Freddies Drop playing, we arranged to catch a taxi to SuHe another small village nearby the ancient town of LiJiang, the place was filled with festival goers and horses carrying people around on the old cobbled roads. It took a few hours to organize our beds in a hotel, so much fuss and confusion, all you could do was laugh.

That first day/night we wandered in the rain around the puddley grounds, and then went to see John Nevada play his guitar, enjoying the raspy country twang, with assisted vocals from drunken rowdy guys at a restaurant/bar along river road. This was the starting point for a crazy adventurous night. At a bar called Yeti, we found a large outdoor but covered deck, with large woks for bonfires. Thankfully we had Brian and a few of the guys who did occasional fodder runs to keep the fire burning, it was magical. Comfy and content we talked and met friends of friends, making new connections and laughing the night away. John Nevada and his partner Kas lived in Zhengzhou for years and met Rachel in Dali, oh the mysteries some people label with the insufficient word ‘coincidence’. The rowdy guys at the previous bar turned out to be friends with Brian and Jo, and very lovely indeed interesting, and they play in a band called the Quebec Redneck Bluegrass Project.

Around 5am we were asked to leave so the owners pregnant wife could get some sleep, well that certainly did the trick, so we were off into the black wetness. There was Josh, Stephan and I, and we had no clue how to get home. The ones who did know couldn’t tell us, so we set off into the abyss that is the lanes of SuHe. It took us 3 hours to get home, wet feet and soaked legs, shivering and violently cold. In our wanderings we came across Brian, who along with Jo had stumbled upon an open door to a café, so we cuddled up inside for an hour or so until it was lighter. We were assured by Stephan that if -as Brian convinced us- we were caught and slaughtered by the local owners with machetes, he would 'spring into action, and defeat all foes'. So we set off and were overjoyed to get back to our hotel rooms in one piece.

Solar heating means no hot water for our stay, which was painful considering we had to set up a stall that day. We rose around 2 and got our things together, and trudged along the road to the festival grounds. The first thing we saw was a big sign saying fun zone. So in we entered and found a spot to set up. We pinched tables and chairs from another stall, and along came a friendly Polish fellow to help out. Turned out he had organized volunteers for a free games area for the huge number of orphans in the region. So we were given a shelter and free burgers and drinks, and sat down to work on our products. Thankfully the rain was light and people were out and about. Josh worked on his Flower Juggling sticks, and I sold lots of the bracelets he bought from Laos. I should have know how Chinese people don’t drink coffee, so the huge amounts I had bought from Vietnam were from then on for personal use only! It was insanely inspiring watching the kids playing with the sticks, their determination and concentration purely touching. 

-check out lots of good photos-

When the rain once again set in we packed up and went to watch the Quebec Redneck Bluegrass Project, friends of Brian and Jo, five extremely talented guys on guitars, harmonica, mandolin, banjo and bass, with awesome music that you definitely can’t stand still to (never mind the freezing autumn rain). We had met them the night before so it was great getting to hear them. We also watched Frank, from Austria; and Jo play with fire blowing, staff and poi. Spectacular entertainment for sure. That night we didn’t stay out too late, had some whiskey and coffee and sat around the fire for a while at Yeti.

The next day we were up and about earlier and were able to enjoy scant sun and watch all 6 of the juggling sticks getting used constantly by eager young orphans. It was great. I even sold 2 cups of coffee! As it was the last night of the festival, we packed up and prepared for a fun night. Not much was happening at the stage so we went in search of dinner. We had discounted delicious pizza, and then went off in search of another place to listen to music. We found the ideal music where I even had to strip off the majority of my layers to have a good dance; live drum and bass, which only lasted about 20 minutes before doof doof stomped on the more intricate and heavy sounds of the previous DJs. 

From there we bumped into friends in the street and laughed and joked around before going to check out a small bar nearby. It was crowded inside with bad live music and negative energies that were disturbing my tipsy good mood, so off we went to the Yeti, where it was mostly Chinese groups but a nice warm fire and the awesome barman who joined us for a while. Stephan, originally from Canada but lives in Shanghai; Frank, Austrian now living in Kunming; Josh and myself, two cool kiwis had the strangest talks all the while in fits of laughter, all something to do with quantum asparagus (is that one of those inside jokes?).  On the way home we munched on spicey skewers of meat, tofu and veges, and back at the hotel we finished off the last of the 73% ghana whittakers chocolate mmmmm.

At the knocking on the door we awoke to find Stephan eager for coffee and cookies, so our breakfast was perfect.. but the mission to find our way back to Dali was not so fun. We made it thanks to Brian and Jo once again saving us and getting us train tickets. It was the best train ride I have had in China, sitting on the bottom of a sleeper bed with three friendly Dali locals, who shared their beer and snacks with us talking animatedly the whole way.

For info on this ancient and beautiful area of china check out http://www.chinadiscover.net/china-tour/yunnanguide/yunnan-lijiang-suhe.htm

where I have looked longingly, as we didn't get a twinkle of this view at all :( but many wonderful memories and new friends along the way.



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