Monday, April 16, 2007

The Greatest Blog Of All (part 1)

Part 1: Stalking Michael Palin
Michael Palin? Sure why not. Pretty much everything we did for the next week was what he did in his Himalayas show. So you can vicariously re-live our adventures by watching his show but without that dry, British humour of course.

Taking a break from Lijiang, Ruth and I rode to the small village of Baisha. Billed by the Lying Planet (sorry Lonely Planet) as an "easy bike ride" from town, it proved more difficult than that. But it did lend itself to some beautiful scenery and some bike riding fun along the way.

When we arrived we were immediately propositioned by the world famous Dr Ho, Baisha's, and apparently the universe's, most famous chinese herbalist. He ushered us into his darkened rooms for herbal tea and told us all about how famous he was. Over and over again. From letters from my best buddy Michael Palin (Dr Ho was featured in the Himalaya series) to testimonials from various people from around the world, Dr Ho is the man. Modesty is not a word in his vocabulary but it was fun to see him in action.

Here he is telling me what lovely wrists I have. Actually, he diagnosed me with bad digestion although I think that might have been a result of the herbal tea.

After our diagnosis, Ruth asked for the obligatory tourist snap. The reason DR Ho couldn't look at the camera was he was sizing up the next bunch of tourists to proclaim his fame to. Dr Ho is the original G, a gangsta hustler ya gotta respect.

But Baisha proved to be a turning point in my China journey. It was for the large part an unsanitised version of the country that I had been craving. Apart from a street selling bogus antiques, this felt like everyday China. (And bogus antiques they were too. One guy was going to sell me a "Qing Dynasty" chess set for 2000 yuan. Down the street, I could have bought an identical "antique" set for 180 yuan which the woman assured me wasn't anymore than a couple of years old and all the antiques on the street were, in fact, fakes.... surprise!).

On the edge of town was a bunch of small farms of barley, spring onion and rapeseed. And yes, that looked as every bit as painful and heavy in real life as it does in the picture. After the tourist inspired prettiness of Lijiang, Baisha was the perfect antidote and was beautiful in an entirely different way.

No comments: