Grade 8 Navigate Northern Yunnan

Nov. 13, 2017

Day 3

After a very exhausting day hiking up the mountain, the Grade 8 students slept in a guesthouse! They woke up to golden sunshine and blue skies - what a lovely surprise to wake up to - warm and calming. 

After having breakfast, the Grade 8 students prepared themselves for yet another hike! They hiked down the mountain to another guesthouse for approximately 4 hours and then stopped for lunch. The scenes that we observed from the mountain were perfect. After having lunch, they took a two-three hour ride to another guesthouse for dinner, where they also camped for the night. The food was delectable and just what they needed after a very active day!  

Day 2- 28 Bends on the Tiger Leaping Gorge

Worlds from the G8 Students: 

"The bus ride to the gorge was super informative. Mr. Rock's, a local Naxi guide told us about his grandfather. His grandfarther was one of the last horseman to trade along the Tea and Horse road. When he was younger, he made lots of money living high in the mountains and trading many goods, like pu or tea. It was customary for these men to have two families because they spent so much time traveling. Mr. Rock’s grandpa took his wealth and fled to India during the cultural revolution without telling his first family, which left his wife and children in great poverty. It was only very recently that the two families met and are currently working to become closer. This story is important because it is common among the people here and we really appreciate Mt. Rock sharing his story with us." 

"Today we climbed 28 bends on the Tiger Leaping Gorge. We left the hotel very early and arrived to find we had to climb for 1.5 hours. After lunch, the group set out for another 2.5 hours, reaching the the top and then slowly made their way back down for 2.5 hours to our guest house. The track going up was wide and had lots of rocks and steps. This wasn’t too dangerous because there were rocks on both sides. The view was beautiful but the hike had the potential to be very dangerous going down if you were not careful and conscious you had to place your feet correctly. It could have been very easy to sprain an ankle! On the way down the rocks were very smooth and slippery and there weren’t many stable points. We kept encouraging each other to keep going and not to give up. We made it to the end with loud cheers from our classmates."

"After dinner we had a lot of entertainment from our classmates. We laughed and cheered as they danced! Our chaperones and guides presented us with awards for being positive and encouraging each other. After some free time, we all settled in to heated mattresses and comfy blankets. Tomorrow we hike down the gorge for 4 hours!

Day 1

What a fantastic day, but man, was it an early start! 

Grade 8 were at school at the crack of dawn, 4:50 a.m.!!! Before boarding the bus, the class split into groups to ensure by the time they arrived at the airport, everyone was organized for check-in. Check-in was another hurdle... a very long process due to the amount of students, but in the end, it didn't matter - Grade 8 were off to Yunnan! 

Everyone boarded, there wasn't a lot of turbulence, although when there was, YOU FELT IT!

When the group arrived in LiJiang they were greated with a warm, welcoming hello from the Hutong leaders. 

LiJiang has become quite famous in the last 20 years. Last year, LiJiang saw more than than 25 million people visit. The influx of tourism has transformed the region, from what was once a very poor area into a thriving community. 

The downside, unfortunately, is with rapid modernization of the area, the local people are at risk of losing the ancient culture. The guide told the group that it is very important for the local people to share their culture and it is the job of the visitors to spread what they have learned. Also, it is very important that when visiting LiJiang and its most historic sites to be respectful, observant, engaged and most of all have commitment to the core values of The Hutong; seek challenge, embrace diversity, light a spark, go the extra, be a good egg, and smile more. 

 The Grade 8's learned that the Jade Dragon Mountain has 13 peaks and it is very dangerous to climb because the rocks break easily. To this day, no one has reached the summit! 

Thousands of years ago the Naxi people were forced to leave the north of China. The Naxi people brought their culture to LiJiang. The group explored Baisha Village, which is where the Naxi people live.

The students learned about tangible and intangible elements of culture and practiced embroidery. They learned that there are over 2000 silk thread colors! The group studied the Naxi language, Dongba, and practiced the characters for man, women, pregnant, plowing, hunting, fishing, birth, trading, hungry, full, marriage, peace, and fighting. 

Did you know that this language is so old that is has no modern characters for things like, car, lightbulb, and phone! Also, it is one of the only surviving hieroglyphic languages and grants are given for people to use and study in order to preserve through UNESCO. Later, the Grade 8's watched a holy man perform ancient religious dances that originate from animals movements. The students also saw the dance of the holy animals yak, eagle, and frog. 

After a very long walk to Shuhe Old Town, the group ate a delicious dinner, explored the local area, and tried the local treats and did a little shopping. 

Tomorrow is another early day as we head off on a two-day hike. WISH THEM LUCK!