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Day 87: Lijiang to Kunming

Michael Palin - HimalayaShe looks deeply concerned, more, I think, for my sanity, than anything else. After appearing to consider the question for a polite amount of time, she frowns and shakes her head.

The attempt to make elephants look cute by pumping disco music from the loudspeakers and then tugging at their legs is a most depressing spectacle and the jokey compere seems thoroughly unpleasant. Maybe I'm just not getting the jokes, so I ask Basil, who confirms that he is indeed thoroughly unpleasant.

The weather's clouded over and the vast area of the park is almost empty, but the shows must go on and at five o'clock we're at the Mosuo stand. Their 'event' takes place in a smaller version of Namu's hotel, with log walls and lots of cowboy hats and line dancing. The audience walk in and walk out, talk and photograph each other as if the performers were invisible. There seems not the slightest respect, or, indeed, enthusiasm for the fact these are live performers.

This whole Yunnan Nationalities park has been like a weird, dreamlike playback of many of the places and the people we've met these past few weeks, and has the effect of making me feel enormously fortunate to have met our minorities in the wild, as it were.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 87: Lijiang to Kunming
  • Country/sea: China
  • Place: Kunming
  • Book page no: 204

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