Thanks for joining me for this week‘s issue of “Bajan,” Chinese Style! Amidst your cheerful exclamations of TGIF and trust me, I share them too, let’s kick off the weekend with today’s post on the four vistas of Dali.
Casting ourselves back before the Chinese New Year and all subsequent celebrations, our last stop was the Kingdom of Dali. As I recall, we had just returned from circling the gargantuan Lake Erhai and experiencing all the adventure and beauty within. Painted in that tapestry of words, I also hinted at the existence of the major Four ‘traditional’ vistas or ‘experiences’ which make Dali such a charming place. These four vistas are none other than; Wind, Flower, Snow and Moon.
Now, if the names of these vistas conjure to mind images of ancient martial art movies, especially those where the protagonist undergoes a turbulent personal transformation from student to master, then you’re on the right track. These vistas not only pertain to the physical beauty of the landscape, but also to that ever so evasive, ethereal world, which we are all aware of but only haltingly perceive.
The traditional rhyme goes as follows: 下关风，上关花，苍山雪，洱海月(Xia guan feng, Shang guan hua, Cang Shan xue, Er Hai Yue) which can be translated as:
The Wind of Xia Guan,
The FLower of Shang Guan,
The Snow of Mount Cang,
The Moon of Er Hai
However, what does it actually mean and how does this little verse so artfully sum up the charm that is Dali?
First, let’s look at the winds of Xia Guan. Xia Guan or Lower Guan is falls under the geographical domain of Dali, and what makes it unique is that due to its location at the base of Cang Mountain and the shape of the valley in which it lays, a natural ‘funnel,’ is formed. This gives rise to year round winds with speeds seldom falling below 20 km/ph, which constantly buffet the region.
Next we come to The Flower of Shang Guan. As ‘Shang’ is the Chinese character for upper, it’s clear that upper regions of the very same funnel valley is where this vista can be appreciated. Unlike other attractions, there is no park or statue immortalizing this vista, as it is born from nothing less that the flowers of the region. The Shang Guan Flower is a large, extremely fragrant flower which is endemic to the region and thus, lends it name to it. However, some argue that the Flower of Shang Guan refers not only to this one flower, but also to the entire culture and heritage of the region, which includes the Dali Mountain tea culture.
The Snows of Cang Mountain are self explanatory as this vista gains its name from the ivory snows which speckle the peaks of Mount Cang. The constant snow capped peaks add a flair of natural finesse to Dali, which is also famed for its year round ‘Spring’ climate.
Finally we come to the Moon of Erhai. This vista takes into consideration the geographical location of Dali (a highland region) and the nature of Lake Erhai. Not only can you see the stars, moon and milky way every night, but according to locals and from personal experience as well, they appear larger, closer even, than what you would see elsewhere. This when coupled with the calm, reflective surface of Lake Erhai, can create a scene so other worldly, that it blurs the line between the imagination and reality. That is the beauty of the lake of Erhai…a scene which cannot be forgotten.
With this we come to the end of our expedition in Dali and join us next time as we continue our adventure in Kunming, The Spring City!
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