Ancient Tea Horse Caravan Trail
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
Stepping out of the train station in Lijiang, I was stopped by this powerful massif, sacred to the Naxi people and, if I lived here, it would be certainly central to my life. I became immediately obsessed, to the point that Emma had to point out other, more pressing matters, like getting to our hotel, and finding food.
We were in Lijiang for less than 24 hours, so unable to get on the mountain, but it’s presence accompanied me on our explorations in the ancient Su He village and woke me up to witness sunrise on its flanks. I read Laurence Brahm’s book on sacred mountains (part of his trilogy of his explorations searching for Hilton’s Lost Horizon versioning Shangri-la). In it, he talks to a woman from Dali, who says, “When you live close to the mountains, you can better listen to what they say. They are the world of spirits.” Mountains have been significantly spiritual in my life.
Places have many names here, due to different peoples, different translations... Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is called Satseto by the Naxi, and Yulong Xueshan (xue shan is snow capped mountain. Now that we are heading north with glaciated peaks, we will be seeing more xue shan). It is the southernmost snow mountain in the Northern Hemisphere.
The Ancient Tea Horse Caravan Trail starts in the pu’er tea region in southern Yunnan (further pu’er explorations for us soon) up through Dali, Lijiang, Zhangdian (the original name of Shangri-la City, along our travels), past the sacred Tibetan mountain of Kawagebo (under which I will spend my birthday), through Lhasa, Nepal and into India.
The Naxi and Mosuo men ferried the tea and other goods along this route, so were gone for months at a time. Therefore, women ran the villages and social networks, and loved whom and how many men they chose (called walking marriages... the concept of father is vague).
A place to decant my brain, to capture inspiration and share fresh insights. [Posts from 2015 onward]