On the footsteps of Joseph Francis Rock

We left Shangri-La with the express bus at 9:30 and arrived in Lijiang around 1:30, so much for the express. There was only one stop (the start of the Tiger Leaping Gorge) and one longer bathroom break on the trip though. Just the right amount of time to read a book or sleep a bit. We got a cab to get near our hotel Merry Inn (it was again in the old part of town, so lots of walking to get there) and checked in. This is really a place I can wholeheartedly recommend. An oasis in this bustling town.

break during the bus ride – no fast food here @Yunnan

courtyard of the Merry Inn @Lijiang

After refreshing ourselves with lots of tea we ordered a cab through the reception and set out to the Yuhu village where the former home and meanwhile museum of Joseph Francis Rock stands. He was born 1884 in Austria but became in 1913 an American citizen where he worked for the National Geographic magazine. He lived for more than 23 years with the Naxi, a local minority. The museum in the village was closed but our driver called and an old man opened it up for us. How other people can do this when you don’t speak Chinese I am not so sure about. It definitely paid off to travel there with a driver!

The museum was in really bad shape and needs some financial help to get everything back in order. Most artifacts looked on the brink of dissolution. Very sad indeed. As well-meaning Austrian citizen I wrote an e-mail to the foreign ministry on my return to let them know that a little financial aid would go a long way at this museum. So far I have only received an automated reply. In the museum you can see mostly pictures of Mr. Rock with different members of the Naxi tribe and a few of his belongings like a suitcase and some of his furniture. It might not be so interesting but it is a little Austrian history in China.

to the left the man who runs the museum and on the right our driver @Rock museum

After the museum’s visit we walked around the village for a bit which was built in a different style from anything else we had seen so far. All the houses were done from rock and not plastered.

and stopped for a grapefruit tea which is just hot water with candied grapefruit at a newly built hotel.

We then drove to the Shuhe village, renowned and part of the Lijiang old town UNESCO world heritage. But it was all re-done in the Chinese way and no old buildings have survived. Quite depressing especially since it rained a lot and was cold and miserable. This was another Chinese Disneyland.

Our driver brought us back to the old town and we walked directly to the Naxi Music Theater where we listened for an hour to old music performed by old musicians on old instruments. It was a cultural highlight but boring nonetheless and really not to my liking. To get an impression on how it sounded please click here.

After the concert we went for dinner and I was rewarded by enjoying a duck without too many vegan inputs. Not only did the duck taste marvelously, also the rest was really tasty. Most interesting part of the dinner was though that the waiters started scrubbing the courtyard while we were still eating. When we left we walked on soap foam. Yours, Pollybert

greens with chili @Lijiang

pickled cabbage @Lijiang

some kind of watery soup @Lijiang


weird tofu @Lijiang

the duck after I already took a piece @Lijiang

Let me know what you think

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