Archive for the ‘July’ Category

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: 黎明 Liming and the Old Man’s Tale   Leave a comment

I was in Liming 黎明村 over this past weekend, a small little countryside of a population of what looks like a few hundred people at most. The valley stretches very far, but is a “protected” natural landscape zone by UNESCO, with some other things to note. First is that 黎明 is a country town! NOT the super hong kong actor/singer of the 1990s with the same name:

Click for larger image:

Liming 黎明村 is a countryside of approximately 750 people or 750 families (in Chinese), whatever the following plaque was trying to define (picture 3). Searching for information of this township is difficult. Google nor Baidu have good photography of the location. So it’s one of those places many would call remote and undefined.

We met a local LiSu minority 傈僳族 old man born in the 1940s. (According to a local friend, there are black, red and white versions of the tribe, and I had forgotten to ask.). He was a curious nut, but gave us a few insights on the local area and himself. He owns a small restaurant, but his dishes were not very appetizing…
(馬 = me (Darwin) and my friend who wishes to not be named.  李 = 李志坤 = Li3Zhi4Kun1 = LiSu old man.)

The following is a rough translation of our conversation:

馬:  In 1996, when the big earthquake hit Lijiang, did Liming feel anything?
李:  Of course Liming got shakes.  But I wasn’t scared. I will tell you a little secret.  Whenever an earthquake hits, I quickly put ash in my mouth.  And when the trembles end, I spit it out.  And look at me now! I am still alive and well and strong, while I watched my sons run away in fear.
[I and my friend laughed after he said this.  He gave a grin of missing top row teeth and yellowed, bottom row teeth, though it cannot be said they were related situations.]

馬:  Where did you get the yak hide from? And your bracelet is rather nice, is it made of bone?
李: This yak hide is something that I have had since I was young. Actually the Naxi (of Lijiang) copied the yak hide from us and took it for their own pride and show, claiming it to be their own style. We Lisu had it before they did, and I wear it with pride. This bracelet is made of yak bone, my son gave it to me as a gift from Zhongdian (Yunnan’s Shangri-La).

馬: Those trees on the mountainside, are they all new?
李: Yes, in the late 60s and the late 90s, the government and prospectors clear cut all of the trees around here. There are some imported trees such as pine, but the natural trees are making a comeback [from the seeds of the extremely high mountain tops]. Trees are currently about two fists thick, but it used to be about this big (as the old man rounds his arms into a large circle in front of him). It’s still a beautiful place to be as the landscape recovers.

Exploring the above for three days was amazing, especially during the rainy season. The last panarama, can you guess what mountain is that? // natural photos all by Darwin Ma / mooseandhorse

PS I met several American university students and a Kunming cardiologist research assisting in monitoring the heart conditions of the small country areas. What an exciting path and location to be in. Congrats to them!
[If you see this post, it was most excellent to have met you guys! Hope to meet you all again!]

My next post will be of the landscape and nature of the surroundings: ‘Thousand Turtle Mountain’ 千龟山. Summer Rain Mushrooms. And a cavernous climb only few have ventured (though not for long)…

Travel well my friends,
Darwin Ma

Travelled in mid July, rainy season, but got 2 of 3 days of sun. Yay! 

Originally posted here , my other blog.  Pullman Lijiang Resort & Spa can help you get here! You can also stay and enjoy other Lijiang surroundings, just check out the ‘Travel In and Around Lijiang’ section. Or email me at  🙂

thePULL: Torch Festival UPDATE   Leave a comment

Some updates on festivities:

The Torch Festival is coming up soon! See our earlier post here.
To Recap:
Sunday July 24th is the start of The Torch Festival in Ninglang 宁蒗, a little country village northeast of Lijiang, approximately 4 hours away and between Lugu Lake, where the Pumi Nationalities 普米族 celebrate earlier than the Naxi (see below). (Source: Pumi friend)

(Click for larger image)

While over in Lijiang, the Naxi people will be celebrating The Torch Festival 火把节 from July 25th to July 27th, in all the little towns, namely Dayan 大研古镇, Shuhe 束河古镇 and Baisha 白沙古镇 (though Baisha is not confirmed, it should be as it was an old capital of the Lijiang area).

The festival is largely for the Yi Minority, but that had carried over to other municipalities over history. The Yi minority are spread across northern Yunnan, but largely in southern Sichuan (the province northeast of Yunnan). Activities include bullfighting, pyroworks, nationality beauty contests, and other activities! The Yi people celebrate it on July 25th as well.

When the party is over, we’ll make sure to get some (hopefully!) nice photos to see what you may or not have missed!

Lucky you if you get to join us during this period!

PS Now I know it is not Lijiang, but Cirque du Soleil, Montreal-based, world-reknowned acrobatic cinematics for its creativity and charm, is visiting in select locations in China. Check them out (if you’re not in Lijiang)!


Pullman Lijiang Resort & Spa

NOTES: July 25th 2011 Gregorian Calendar = 6th month, 24th day of the Lunar Calendar.

thePULL: Late Summer PROMO 2011   Leave a comment

Late Summer PROMO 2011

Once again we have another promotion for the Summer 2011. Please see the details below to stay at Pullman Lijiang!

30% off room and villa rates (an additional 10% discount offered to A|Club Advantage Plus members)
BOOK DURING: 12th July – 18th August 2011
STAY DURING:  26th July – 04 September 2011
Room rate is to be fully prepaid, no modifications, no refunds even if cancelled.
(this is also valid in other hotels in China, but spend this summer in Lijiang!)

In addition, we still have the Spa-200 rebate:

Reference your reservation to this blog and get a 200 RMB Mandara Spa rebate per treatment! Please book your reservation via or when making your reservation. Valid anytime.

And Out of Town, check out: , our sister hotels, who are giving out a contest to win a trip to 8 destinations around the world. The contest ends 18 July 2011 (that’s… soon!)

SUBSCRIBE, that way will have you up-to-date for your dream travels.

Get Closer.

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!)

%d bloggers like this: