Author Archive

thePULL : 17 and A-Dan, the Craftsman of Lashi Lake   2 comments

by Darwin Ma / Pullman Lijiang Resort and Spa Exclusive / 2011-08-03

Short Intro to A Dan, 阿丹, and a few things you can visit while in Lashi Lake, Lijiang

1 / custom request any wooden furniture, copperwares and household-design items you would like from A-Dan …
2 / visit his “Monthly Open Vacation Home”, also by Lashi Lake, occuring every 17th of every month, where there are creatures and friendly faces enjoying each other over a bonfire and friends. (More details below …)
3 / visit his home and have a tea, view his own personal museums and not-for-sale antiques (with his permission)


A special interview and tour was made in mid April with Pullman Lijiang Resort and Spa … his blog is at

A-Dan, 阿丹, (above) is a Taiwanese entrepreneur, artist and packrat out near Lashi Lake 拉市海, west of Lijiang. A craftsman for over 20 years and living in Lijiang for over 10, A Dan left business in Taiwan and opened several antique and woodcraft shops and displays around Lashi Lake. He is one of the many ‘foreigners’ who enjoys, founds, and now creates the beautiful, natural atmosphere in Lijiang’s lakeside suburbia.  A Dan has his own private collection of antiques from Lijiang and the area, all a few decades old,  all an interesting story between each item.  He turned a hobby into a collection and into inspiration, forming his craftsmen handiwork for the masses. A-Dan took a retired wooden boat, the kind that was made from ONE TREE CARVED OUT, and turned it into desks and chairs …


His Children

There is a common modern concept that children should attend schools and get a strong basis of education for the world.  His two daughters, Pipi 皮皮 and Dandan 蛋蛋, 10-13 years old, do not. “I do not believe in the public school system, in any country, as it’s the same idea of the same concept. Children are burdened with schoolwork and are not playing around and not enjoying childhood. That’s not how it should be … My girls are playing away and making a memory that will last forever, in the living and breathing beauty of Lijiang … and just … enjoying . Why do we [parents, adults] need squeeze their time away from schoolwork and preparation for moneycollecting, and forget about just living?”


The ‘Monthly Open Vacation House’ happens every 17th of every month. It is open to everyone, everywhere, filled with pigs, ducks, hares, a monkey, chickens, a farm, small dogs, large dogs, and several grandmas playing card games. It is one of the first things you will notice when going to Lashi Lake … and at no admission fee …
‘Why not?’ asks would-be capitalists …  “Every year, there are only a few days to celebrate because of holidays, birthdays, national days, religious days, whatever.  Why can’t we celebrate life more, and more regularly?  So I made this wooden getaway for everyone to get away more often, rather than a ‘once in awhile’ … no admission fee, free drinks, dancing, music and just to have an overall good time … my treat to have your company to celebrate!”

“Why the 17th, you ask? Look at my business card.  my phone number ends in xxxxxxx1717 [I lost this phone number!].


You may contact us at Pullman Lijiang to take you to A-Dan’s house at or +86-1362-888-5532,
or email him directly (in Chinese) at or call 1338-8884548.

Get Closer … to the people and places around Lijiang …

ADan’s ‘Monthly Open Vacation Home’ [above] in Lijiang, open to all guests to visit.
A small get together party is held every nigh of the 17th of every month …

A child rests against the wood. Roots cut away into what looks like three different mythical creatures …

One of the antiques, an old fashioned iron – don’t see those around anymore!

Lazy Pigs and Happy Dogs

classic motorcycle and a skulled marked by the Tibetans

… the following are some pictures from his blog, showing the ’17th’ celebration days!  Let’s chill out

by Darwin Ma & Pullman Lijiang Resort and Spa  / 2011-08-03
will update more later, here or there, as the 17th passes …

thePULL : short – Santa’s in China during the Summer   Leave a comment

A small little weekend reminder…

Santa Claus is rockin’ it in China while he waits for the snow!
And the bigger question … who inspired Kris Kringle’s appearance in the back alley of a kindergarten in Lijiang, southwest China?!



thePULL: Faerie Orchids of Yunnan   Leave a comment

It’s the cutest and most original flower I have ever seen …


After some brief arguments, they are  some wild orchids of Yunnan, but infinitely more beautiful and cuter than those found at your local grocer and flower shops!
Environment: Rocky, cliffside; dark dirt and moist environment. Seen July 2011 in Liming and Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Physiology: 1 stem. 1 leaf that lies at the base of the stem. Roots unknown distribution. Can spawn at least 13 flowers on the one stem. Highly Fragile. Scentless.

Please help to classify! If not, then might as well play some chinese style cards …

thePULL : Tiger Leaping Gorge and Skyvex   Leave a comment

[As a new highway is currently being constructed to make a more direct route from Lijiang to Zhongdian (Shangri-La), the classic routes to Tiger Leaping Gorge remains the same, at approximately 2 hours away from Lijiang.  The country is only as good as its infrastructure  (quote anonymous) … but I digress.]

Tiger Leaping Gorge   虎跳峡   (Lijiang, Yunnan  –  云南省,丽江区)

A beautiful gorge continually fed with the summer rush of the Jinsha River,  flowing through two high mountain ranges, that of Haba Snow Mountain at 5396m and 5596m of Yulong (Jade Dragon) Snow Mountain, is a short trip away from Lijiang. Coveted by many travellers, backpackers and farmers, the Gorge is a beautiful escape foot of incredibly high cliffs.  TLG challenges to be the deepest valley and gorge in the world, depending on the definition used.

Look down!  at the boulders of where the tiger pounced across the river to get away from the hunter. You’re about 1800m above sea level.   Look up!  and its a difference of about 2800m of the nearest cliffs, with the mountains downstream of about 3600m! …  Summer’s rainy season brings reddish soil from the Tibetan plateau source, but by autumn the river flows a beautiful blue …

Some recent photos below (the others will be via Flickr) of the Gorge and ShiGu Town 石鼓镇, at the pinnacle of First Bend of the Yangtse …
What do you say : When will you come by?


my favourite picture of the trip ... a warp but the sky remains consistent. / Darwin Ma

The following is at ShiGuZhen (Old Stone Drum Town) at the pinnacle of The First Bend of the Yangtse River (you know, that river that extends all the way to Shanghai)

Skyvex : Our Concave World on the Convex Sky / Darwin Ma & Pullman Lijiang Resort & Spa










thePULL: 黎明村 Liming and Mushroom Season (snippet of Cordyceps)   Leave a comment

Continued from ‘黎明 Liming and the Old Man’s Tale‘  , the following is moreso of the natural explorations of 黎明.

The following pictures are of the mushrooms while climbing 千龟山, literally translated to ‘Thousand Turtle Mountain’.  The mountain is a signature karst red rock formation that looks more like brains rather than turtle shells, but I would suppose turtle shells sounds more dinner-friendly.

Mushrooms and fungi of Yunnan are popular all over China and internationally.  Many importers seek Yunnan to supply their kitchens, from Italy to Thailand, from the Arabs to Australia.  I was on the lookout for any and all types of species of mushrooms and fungi, so see below on what we have found!  They come in all sorts of colours, shapes, sizes, and smells, though the latter I was weary of my safety ..

AS A GENERAL RULE, have the utmost caution for all wild mushrooms.  Even regular mushroom hunters get mistaken sometimes, as many may give ill-effect after a few weeks with required liver or spleen transplant for some intense species.

Also, we at Pullman Lijiang can help to find a guide if you are interested in the Mushroom Season, between July to early September.
A general trip would not need a guide, but if you want to know what’s edible, find a local!

Enjoy the (few of many many many) mushrooms of Yunnan!


I am curious what these white sacs are…  whether they are draining rain and nutrients from the leaf (pathogen shroom), or an interesting insect sac …


[above]   Do you see three types at the left?

[above]   Baby octopus mushroom of the Geastraceae family (earthstars)!  Brown poison on the right..
[below]   Left: looks like a piece of liver!  Centre: Big and Red (鸡肝菌?).  Right: Big-time gills.

These and a few more will be on our FLICKR Page!

There are some neat things called the Cordyceps sinensis, a fungi family of parasitic species that affect larvae.
The larvae of ghost moths burrows into the ground then the fungi spawns out and continues it’s spread with other ghost moths and larvae, whether airborne or consumed or passed on from parent moth to larvae, it is unknown. But we know that this little phenomena of biology is used a lot for Chinese medicines and slowing going into Western, as more research is conducted..


See more at or  As per Mr. Daniel Winkler, professional mycologist of northeast Tibet.

Keep Mushroaming,

Darwin Ma
/ Pullman Lijiang Resort & Spa exploring around Lijiang!


thePULL : TRAVEL Waiting for a Free-For-All Train   Leave a comment

The following chronicles one of the many events along the train from Dali to Lijiang Yunnan China, a time distance of approximately 100 minutes and a travel distance of 200 km, and an experience hopefully you get to avoid.

4:00 pm.  My palm to my chin and a blank stare out at the flashbomb shine by the sun, forehead sweat wiggles a maze through the dirt on my face down to the length of my fingers, like worker ants digging out their underground labyrinthine.

4:10 pm.  The train departs at 4:45, as the ticket says.  Without moving any muscles below my nose, I hear my extraocular muscles shift to the left, the stress of pupils adjusting from the near focus to the distant like sheets of sandpaper rubbing together when zooming in, and absorb the restlessness of the circle of humans already pressed against the entrance gate.  No line up, no order, no patience.  At least the entrance gate was a strong, thick layer of tempered glass – I believe it will withstand the zombies.

4:20 pm.  The crowd has tripled in size, taking up the amount of floor space as three 24-seater travel buses.  The train from Kunming toots its horn and settles in.  The humans become anxious. I squint my lips then blow, cooling my hands, then shaking the heat away.  Time to go.

4:25 pm.  Eyebrows drooped, upright stance – Like a pawn in a chess match awaiting its next move.  I get enveloped in the seemingly endless aggregation of humans – tall and lanky, short and feeble, tiny and silent.  I can feel the asphyxiation coming soon.  Pant.  Pant.  Pant.  I spin around and scout the crowd.  Everyone was staring at the door, the only door, to the entrance where the train attendants stand guard on the opposite side.

4:30 pm.  The door parts slightly.  The crowd shoves and waddles like hunger to the scent of pie towards another boundary.  A trick?  No, the disabled and handicapped are led through first.  One, two, perhaps three altogether, stepping up to the overpass before heading down to the platform.  The healthy onlookers look on, reasonably saying to themselves that this is fair and good, but I know they all have a slight envy that they get first dibs on the filthy but coveted seats on the train.  A slight breeze enters, and a hush of comforting sighs is met with some smiles.

4:44 pm.  We have not moved.  My knapsack creates the beautiful sweat stain road down my spine.  My hands are numb and engraved from holding a cotton bag full of gifts.  So thirsty from the salty and sour meals before.  So fatigued from the lack of sleep of the nigh before.  So painful are the knees and ankles from hiking and wondering around the uneven paths of Dali .   But the crowd is sophisticated today.  No one is yelling nor inquiring.  There is a common sense of understanding, the time will come when the time is ready.  It surprises me that a crowd in complete disarray except for gazing forward can have the silence and patience to wait for this one central barrier.

4:50 pm.  I imagine the next events would happen like a Mario Kart race, but with thousands of contestants.  Everyone is revving their engines, spitting tires, spinning out, giving that push for that extra boost of speed, as the light sounds: BEEEP-BEEEP-BEEEP-BOOP! (3-2-1-GO!)  The earthquake shudders the platform, the humans are released to the trains.  The front line, scatter and swarm the platform in a mess of a hurry, like a disturbed bee hive, running out into the sweet crispness of the air and down to the loading platforms.  We at the rear glance and laugh together to the crowd ahead, gather our things, and walk happily through to the trains.

4:55 pm.  Now, here was the second issue:  The train was overbooked.  Looking left, looking right, some like I had the same situation ‘无座’, meaning no seats or no seating reserved.  This is the tricky part and luck would have it, I managed to squeeze myself into a nice spot with some sleek and savvy negotiations.  For others, they would be stuck sitting along the walkways of the train for 100 minutes.  Now, that’s not too bad of a wait between Dali and Lijiang, but I have heard that this can happen on longer trips, 8 hours or perhaps more!

5:00 pm.  Sweet Departure.


LEFT: My trip back to Lijiang.
RIGHT: No designated seats 无座 From Guangzhou to Xi’an – that’s over 25 hours and 2030km!

This was one of the longest hours I’ve ever had, along with some job interviews, a resisting lavatory sit-down and sitting through a hot summer’s traffic jam.

TIPS: Get a sleeper cabin for overnight trips.  Buy your ticket early especially during peak seasons (Major holidays, Spring Festival/University breaks, Summer Holidays), and make sure to get seats.  If you get stuck with ‘无座’, then… well… get yourself as comfy as possible, away from the washrooms, and… good luck!

DISCLAIMER:  I am not trying to discourage taking the trains in China, or anywhere.  They are one of the best ways and cheapest ways to get around landscapes, especially China.
COMMENT: from Louisa, our friend Jan had a 54 hour train ride in Australia. Doubt it was as crowded but nonetheless given a 无座 free-for-all!

Riding high,
Darwin Ma
(This is a repost from my other blog; reposting here when relevant!)

Event and History: Naxi Culture on Display in NYC – Quentin Roosevelt’s China   1 comment

One of the few explorers and documenters of the Lijiang (Likiang, Lichiang, 丽江)  history, Quentin’s quest through the west brings back some more history of Lijiang’s culture and Dongba life. His pictures are all original, different from those of Peter Goullart and Joseph Rock, but still relevant in showing the history of the area. Currently in use by the Rubin Meseum of Art in New York, the pictures currently cannot be extracted for public online display. So please visit the exhibit and post some helpers here to share the historic culture in NYC and beyond!
Although more modernized, much of Lijiang’s landscape is the same (and in colour!).

Quentin Roosevelt’s China
@ Rubin Museum of Art, NYC 

Quentin Roosevelt, grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt went to the Lijiang area for 10 days and brought back multitudes of art and items from the traderoute center of the Naxi.

May 13 to Sept 19 2011.
Location: Rubin Museum of Art, 150 West 17th Street New York City, NY 10011
Contact: Tel: 212.620.5000, Fax: 212.620.0628, Email:

(See site  for more information about the display and giving an introduction on the history with New Yorkers)
(Excerpt below is from The, a community media outlet for the New York area – Cheers!)

Quentin Roosevelt’s China: Ancestral Realms of the Naxi

How much did you get done during your last 10-day vacation to a place you’ve never been? In 1939 — the height of the Sino-Japanese War — 19-year-old Harvard art history student Quentin Roosevelt (grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt) set off for the remote region of Lijiang, China, in search of the mysterious ancient culture of the Naxi. After four months of travel, he reached the mountainous region on the Tibetan border and spent 10 days assembling what was to become one of the most complete collections of Naxi art outside of China. Culled from that collection, “Quentin Roosevelt’s China” is the most comprehensive exhibit on religious art of the Naxi ever assembled. Roosevelt’s art is displayed alongside the collection of legendary botanist-explorer Joseph Rock (the first Western explorer to extensively study the complex religious and linguistic traditions of the Naxi). Ceremonial funeral scrolls, ritual cards and ceremonial manuscripts are among the pieces on display. Through September 19, at The Rubin Museum of Art (150 W. 17th St., btw.; 6th & 7th Aves.). For hours and admission info, call 212-620-5000 or visit

Get Closer.
Pullman Lijiang Resort & Spa 

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