Sunday, January 29, 2012

Some New Challenges; Do You Know Shangri-la in China?

For most of the ATCs I did, I would do a duplicate one to keep, but for the current Birthday fabric ATC swap, it doesn't make sense to do an exact duplicate. Thus, when I chance upon The Linen Shelf's ATC Challenge to create 1 ATC a month based on the calendar months, I think I have found the solution! With the same tatted peacock motif I did for Tahlia, I sewed up this January 2012 ATC for myself, dedicated to Tahlia, whose birthday falls in January. February ATC is almost done too!

I abstain myself from taking up more new swaps partly to participate in StitchMap's current Colour Theory course and a challenge to do a set of stitcher's travel bag and accessories. As this is the first time I join in such their challenge, I am not too sure what to expect. Part 1 was to sew a bag. I use tatted flowers for the front, and try my hand with my "new" sewing machine. I was so nervous, the sewing was not going too straight, my seam was more than required, I unpicked and re-sewed some portions. Finally, here's the bag! There is no closure, but with a lining - my first-ever machine-sewn bag!!!

And all my flowers I tatted so far for the Colour Theory course Lesson 3 and for the Stitcher's Travel Bag. Tatting these flowers is addicitive!

These long-awaited inchies are finally here! Bees, Fall and Halloween inchies from Debbie H. (USA). Love the way Debbie arranged them on a card - neat!

More on my China trip: On Day 4 (9 Dec), we left Lijiang for Zhongdian (中甸). Zhongdian is the name of both a huge county and the town that is its capital. It forms one of three counties that make up the Diqen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northwestern most Yunnan. The place was re-named in 2001 to Shangri-la (香格里拉), after the fictional land of Shangri-La in the 1933 James Hilton's novel "Lost Horizon", in an effort to promote tourism in the area. (I did find a copy of the book in a bookstore in the old town.)

Mountains and farms were common sights.

Halfway to Shangri-la, about 100 km northwest of Lijiang Old Town lying between Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (玉龙雪山) and Haba Snow Mountain (哈巴雪山), we stopped by the Tiger Leaping Gorge (虎跳峡). A contender for the world's deepest river canyon, it is not considered navigable, but is one of the best hiking trail in Lijiang. We didn't hike, but like most tourists, reached the uppermost section by vehicle. Even then, it was no mean feat to climb the numerous steps - it was super cold with the strong wind when climbing down during winter, and out-of-breathe for us when climbing up!

The gorge stretches about 15 kilometers. Naturally divided into three sections, the first section, which is the narrowest and uppermost section, is the mouth of the fast flowing Jingsha River. In the midst of the river's mouth is a large rock that is positioned at the gorge's narrowest section-only 30 meters wide. According to an ancient legend, a tiger used this rock as its stepping stone so it could leap across from one side of the gorge to the other in order to escape from a hunter, which is how the gorge got its name.

Can you spot the stone tiger in the middle of the photo?

As the river enters the middle section, it drops another 100 meters and its flow rate increases to an amazing speed. The third and lowest section is steepest and most dangerous. Here, the river twists and turns and the river vigorously surges forward creating high waves and a frothy spew as it collides with the mountainsides. This is a view that inspires a sense of adventure and satisfies the deepest yearnings for magnificent scenery.

We had lunch at this restaurant, you can see all the vegetables they had on the shelf in the kitchen. The cupboard on the right stored all the sterilised crockery.

At the entrance, hawkers were peddling their goods, foodstuff most of the times.

It was a very bumpy journey to Shangri-la, a good part of it on narrow winding roads around hilly regions. Took a total of about 4 hours on the road from Lijiang to Shangri-la. We just couldn't keep awake in the car!

We were almost there, the architecture and motifs on building were distinctive.

The above was part of a huge school compound, comprising elementary, secondary, high school, etc, all in one place.

The photo below was a musuem for Tibetan knives.

We had reached - Shangri-la!

And our hotel - JiLaiDeng Star-Kevel Hotel!
That's the car (on the right) and our driver for the last few days.

It was coldest here, mainly because of the high altitude of 3,200m. We barely could walk on the street, we had to drag ourselves out to look for dinner. Found a cosy little "western" restaurant. The food was pretty good, especially the pizza! There were local Tibetan dishes too, but my folks aren't too adventurous!
Things we don't see in Singapore.

So nice and cosy to be near the coal burner. Reminded me of the Chinese proverb 雪中送炭 translated as "Sending coal in winter", meaning giving help when needed!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year; A Most Interesting Day in Lijiang

I missed the ATC session in Bishan Library last month, and it seemed ages for the next one to come - perhaps because January session was postponed a week ;) We had a fun evening doing paper quilling. I do quill occassionally, but it was fun doing together, and an eye-opener looking at all the dragons and Angry Birds Mdm Au did. She was our instructor for the night, and what a lot she prepared for us - papers, tools and the ATC backing.(Above) The quilled fish ATCs I did - planned for the Chinese New Year! Wishing everyone 年年有余 - a year filled with abundance. And for the theme "Simply Red", my ATCs (below) adorned with red tatted flowers, wishing all 洪福齐天!

The quilled dragon and Angry Birds (bottom left) are the amazing works of Mdm Au.

I finished this birthday ATC for Annette (New Zealand) in good time. This should reach her before her birthday in early Feb.

Another few alphabet ATCs done, I have completed the series for Sherry! Just need to do another set for Mari.

2 gorgeous ATCs came - V is for Violet and a very cute W is for Worm - from Sherry. I love her needle-punching works, and that's something I haven't tried.

Still on Day 3 (8 Dec) PM in Lijiang: We stopped by a jade city - Dian Mian Yu Shi Cheng (丽江滇缅玉石城) . This is one of the largest in China - rows and rows of counter-top, thousands of pieces of jade, in colours and unlimited designs from earrings, pendants to bangles, small to big sculptures. Not only jade, but there were also some crystals, and Chinese herbs. We bought quite a bit of the herbs here, not that they were cheap, but guaranteed that they are the real and quality ones.
This is the model of the place which acts to provide directions around the counters. The squarish tables at the bottom right are those selling herbs.
Next was a visit to Shuhe ancient town (束河古镇). We gave up walking after going down one of the streets. Still very cold despites the glaring sun, we could hardly opened our eyes walking in the direction of the sun!
One interesting shop.
On one side of the road, trees were bare, .... ... and on the other side, greens!
Here you can see both sides of the road.
Just one of the numerous signs - this one written "Be kind to the followers and grasses".
Along the main streets in Lijiang.

The "Acrossed Bridge Rice Noodle" (过桥米线) as written on the signboard in front of the shop, is one of the Yunnan's special food item, with some interesting stories behind it. I went to Yunnan once about 10 years ago, and believe it or not, I missed this rice noodle cooked in booth so much, I just must take this again. I had my good share of it for 3 meals! More delicious than our local fishball noodle soup!

Finally, we visited Lijiang ancient town (丽江古城) .

"The sun's in my eyes!!!! "
The sun was going to set. No more glaring sun, but the uneven tiles on the ground and steep terrain made the walk pretty tiring.

Weaving in process. Although the Chinese government classifies the Mosuo (摩梭) as a part of the Naxi minority people, they have many of their own distinctly different cultural practices.

Along some of the streets in the ancient town. There were a number of shops selling yak meat here.

We were almost lost inside the town. Armed with a map and not-to-scale directional signboards along the streets, with lesser and lesser people to almost deserted streets, we finally found our way out to the main road to hail a taxi back to the hotel.

The front lobby of the Guanfang Hotel (官房酒店), the morning of 9 Dec, when we checked out after breakfast.