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Day 80: Lugu Lake

Michael Palin - HimalayaWe're interrupted by Namu's piercing voice, rising from the courtyard.

'It is my uncle's house, we have to bring something!'

J-P, who wants to film Namu at the childhood home where her uncle and aunt now live, suggests we take some Yunnan ham.

'No!' barks Namu. 'Not good enough.'

A little later, bearing Yunnan ham, augmented with cigarettes, sugar, a bottle of brandy and a bottle of whisky, we're picking our way across a ploughed field, over a suspicious-looking stream, past a sow with a gaggle of piglets in tow and into a dark, old, smoky, timber farmhouse. In a small courtyard chickens peck away around feeding troughs made from hollowed-out treetrunks. The main room has no windows, only a hole in the roof, whose rafters are coated with thick black grime from the fire. Chitterlings and pigs' bladders hang from the beams. Smoke-veneered, wooden panels around the sides of the room are hung with celebrity calendars, posters of pop stars, and cut-outs of glamorous ladies. While Nigel lights this atmospheric but gloomy interior, Namu preoccupies herself with her looks, holding up a hand mirror and adding a touch of make-up before producing a pair of clippers from somewhere and trimming her eyelashes. Her aunt, a good-looking woman with a black, turban-like coil on her head, whose sole concern seems to be to provide us with refreshment, puts three large lumps of pork fat in a bowl on the fire and drops tiny pancakes filled with wheat flour into the bubbling mix.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 80: Lugu Lake
  • Country/sea: China
  • Place: Lugu Lake
  • Book page no: 185

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  • Around the World in 80 Days