I grabbed a quick shot of the ancient bridge in Lijiang this morning, before the crowds took over. You can see goldfish in the water.
We had a slow but pretty journey to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain cable car – most of the Chinese tourists went up the nearest one, but my guide had something more remote in mind and we headed for the cable car to a Yak Meadow, where there is a small Tibetan Buddhist monastery. We walked a slow circuit to admire the view – I reckon we reached about 3800m (over 12,000ft) but I am reasonably acclimatised now and I felt fine.It was a beautiful morning, sunny and still. Not long after our descent the clouds thickened and a light rain began to fall. I never cease to be amazed by my luck.
My guide told me about her life. Her birth parents were teachers, employed by the Government, her mum Naxi and her dad Han Chinese. They already had two children, but as they were both girls (i.e. duds) they tried again, but another little girl was born. If they’d kept her both parents would have lost their jobs, Instead, they handed her over to some Naxi relatives who lived in a remote village. It was an hour’s walk to the nearest road and then a bus to get to school. The adoptive parents were peasants earning about £100/yr, too poor for proper shoes or umbrellas, so when it was winter the little girl had to walk to the school bus through the mud and the rain in home-made shoes (this is only 20 years ago). They were often hungry but her adoptive parents could see she was a bright girl and spent all their money on her school books. She eventually won scholarships for university and through sheer hard work and determination she has succeeded in achieving a much happier life. Her birth parents went on to try again and this time they had a boy, whom they kept and paid for. I cannot imagine how she feels about all of that, but she tells the story in entirely neutral tones.She did say that she has a better relationship with her adoptive parents than she does with her birth parents.