China’s Most Classic View

We were both lucky and unlucky in admiring what is described as the most classic view in all China. The Jade Spring Park was built in 1737 in the Qing dynasty.  Its Kublai-Khan like atmosphere is enhanced by an artificial lake, pagodas and a wonderful five-arched bridge.

We were lucky in that the black dragon pool in the park was full. It has been known to dry up which would have been a real pity as the carp in it were magnificent:

We were unlucky in that the view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, the highest in the province, was covered by cloud and only partially visible. This is what the view should look like:


The mountain is, in fact, a massif consisting of various peaks the highest of which, Shanzidou (18,360 feet), was first climbed in 1987. Shanzidou has not been climbed again since as the mountain is believed to be the home of the Gods and permits are not issued to preserve its sacred nature. Another peak in the massif, however, mount Satseto (Nakhi name) or Yulong (Chinese name) can be reached by cable car and offers good ski-ing and awesome views.

Among famous travellers who have visited and fallen in love with the area are the botanist and explorer Joseph Rock (1884 – 1962) who wrote extensively about the Nakhi people, Bruce Chatwin and more recently Michael Palin.

The Jade Spring Park is absolutely gorgeous and, naturally, a popular destination for Chinese courting couples. During our visit there were still many lovely flowers in bloom and the pavilions were enchanting.

These included the Moon-embracing pavilion:


The Dragon god pavilion:


and the Wufeng tower:


We could have spent ages in the countryside around Lijiang but time’s winged chariot was hurrying very near us…..

I felt a bit like those three courtiers, Ping, Pong and Pang in Puccini’s masterpiece ‘Turandot’ when they sing nostalgically of their homes so far away from the imperial court.

E potrei tornar laggiù…

…a godermi il lago blu…

tutto cinto di bambù!

I’d just love to fly out again to this area again…and I will.

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