Monday, May 07, 2007

Dali - Yi Market and Village

Dali, Yunnan, China

A second day trip offered by Jim through China Minority Travels is to the Muslim Market and Yi Village. The market is held on the 5th, 15th and 25th of the month, with the market being bigger on certain days. Try to plan your trip to do this tour on a market day!

Animals must head to market at the crack of dawn or earlier - horses, water buffalo, cows, pig, goats, sheep and in the food areas - chicken, rabbits, etc. While desultory negotiations can be found, things don't get intense until closer to closing time - 3:30 PM. The unanswered question - how many animals head home market after market with their owners.

As you will have seen from the prior postings, faces captivate us in the markets - these are from my husband's pictures last year. Don't you love the hats? And then there's the endless other commercial activites aimed at supporting life - tobacco, shave and a haircut, new clothes (sewn by the ladies in easter bonnets!) and shoe repair.

Beside the faces, I am forever amazed how much women carry on their backs, long distances. Here's the walking straw!
No story about China is complete without a contrast of the old and new. Here we have the traditional clothing, combined with the back basket - now available in bright plastics rather than the old style rattan on the picture's left, and the plastic toy for the child.

As with the prior day's tour, Jim arranged for lunch - this time in a Muslim restaurant; buried in a village, on a road that probably sees a car once a day. Not a place you would stumble upon, nor likely choose on your own. Amazing amounts of food poured out of the kitchen. Completely different flavors and food varieties, and all delicious. You just didn't want to look too closely. Cynthia, toasting with her tea cup, was none too impressed with the flies or the full volume DVD of the midday call to prayer and sermon. Guess I've been in China too long and took it all as part of the experience. It was yummy and not to be missed.

What could be missed, and was, was the local toilet. Sent down the alley to this, I have to say that I've done basic toilets in all of my travels, but an open field would be far preferable to this "composting" toilet. With roofers laying tiles next door, the combination was enough to send us back down the alley, to a slight bend in the wall. It had clearly served as a backup solution for others and with little road traffic, met the need of a spot of privacy.

Finally, a walk through the fields to a Yi village. The Yi are mountain people, scraping out of a living hours out of Dali. As road construction brings town closer, and satellite dishes bring in the world, how much and how soon will this life change?

On the return to Dali, we had Jim stop to help us understand the coal manufacture. These bricks are used in the home ovens to provide heat and fuel for cooking three times a time. Delivered by bike or wheelbarrow, each family generally uses 3 a day. Coal is brought to the manufacturers, ground, mixed with sand and water and pressed into these briquettes. No OSHA protection in this operation. The men grinding and mixing the coal will be blackened head to toe. According to this man, most die young of black lung.

With much thanks to Henriette for her efficient arrangements, and Jim for his "storytimes", we end our trip to Lijiang and Dali for this year.

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