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Day 86: Lijiang

Michael Palin - HimalayaOur reactions have necessarily had to be whispered, like partisans in an occupied country, but now it's impossible not to let out a whoop of joy.

The Dongba finishing his dance, leaps in the air with the athleticism of a much younger man and comes to a standstill, acknowledging our appreciation with a broad smile.

Intense as the ceremony has been (for many reasons), I don't think any of us felt the sensation of the supernatural presence that Peter Goullart had described so vividly. But a week or so after we got back, Basil called me with his usual report on the photos he'd taken. No problems, except for all those taken with a flash at the Dongba's ceremony. Despite his camera being fully charged up, all the prints came back over-exposed and burnt out. It has happened to him once before, when photographing the Ghost Festival in Penang. All his shots were fine except those taken when the shaman entered a trance.

What's more, he knows colleagues who've experienced the same thing. Everything seems to point to some powerful force or energy current being emitted on the same frequency as the strobe of the flashlight.

Back in Lijiang, Nina, our hardworking Chinese assistant, orders the meal tonight. Something a bit different she says. I'm not so sure. One of the dishes, a chicken stew, has a claw rising from the middle of it.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 86: Lijiang
  • Country/sea: China
  • Place: Lijiang
  • Book page no: 203

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