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January 30, 2015 / 10 Shevat, 5775
 
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Orient Impressions: China


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After heading south to Kunming and the nearby stone forest in Yunnan province, we spent Shabbat in Guangzhou, then took a train to Guilin for the Li River cruise. The boat ride to Yangshou on the calm green water among the karst hills was relaxing and serene. The landscape featured water buffalo, phoenix-tailed bamboo and osmanthus trees. In Yangshou we watched a nighttime performance by the river that was staged on narrow rafts, where the performers seemed to float on the water.

The last stage of our trip was in Lijiang. Its famous Black Dragon Pool Park is framed by a snow-covered mountain range, and fringed by willows and evergreens. The Naxi or Dong minority wander around town in native costumes, women garbed in blue aprons with baskets on their backs. Dongba, their pictographic script, is the only hieroglyphic alphabet still in use. Our evening outing was by taxi to Shuhe, a beautiful old village nearby. The canals running through its streets are crossed by small wooden bridges, and its small central square is most picturesque. The stores have decorative wooden carved doors.

Next was a day trip to Yulong or the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. From Yak Meadow the snowy peaks were spectacular. In the green hills below, Blue Moon Valley Lake is a lovely vista that includes manmade blue pools and waterfalls. Art, artifice and natural beauty are three complementary aspects of China, a country of great variety.

The writer is an editor and translator from French, German and Hebrew into English and she can be reached at sdlfsusan@yahoo.com.

[1] Habad disapproves of this practice and, of course, strictly kosher tours are run by Shai Bar Ilan and others.

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