Wednesday, July 4, 2012

China - Dynamic Yunnan Day 2

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China - Dynamic Yunnan 24th to 31st August 2011
Day 2 : 25th August 2011
Golden Kwan Yin Statue in Ancient A'Lu Caves
Today's itinerary looks interesting & varied. In the morning we will be visiting the A'Lu Ancient Caves, in the afternoon a theme park called Colorful Yunan, and in the evening attend the Shangrila-Dynamic Yunan show.

Alu Ancient Caves Location Map (see Google Interactive Map)

Alu Ancient Caves

After an early breakfast, we checked out and left for the Alu Ancient Caves at Luxi, very nearby to our hotel.

Entrance to the Alu Caves Park
The caves are situated in a park and after paying for tickets we entered through the gates. The early morning cool air shrouded the the park in a light mist. I was beginning to like the scenery, until the guide told us that it was a 2km walk from park entrance to the Cave's mouth. Gosh! 2km far and... walk! No wonder they have a park. Well might as well enjoy the walk.

The park was nicely landscaped, there were also several ponds

We even passed by a small but colorful temple. By this time the mist have cleared - well it was a 2km slow walk. And we must be nearing the caves.

Waterfall at Cave Entrance
Finally we reached the cave's mouth. There is a man-made waterfall which splashes every 5 minutes. Wonder why the put it there? To ward off evil spirits?

Stepping in from the bright park into the caves, we found ourselves in an eerily dark and cold place. A stark but good contrast.

Around us, and slightly further ahead, we could see patches of colors - green, red, blue, yellow. A hint of what was to come.

As we walked further in, the cave became brighter, lit by colored lights to enhance the beauty of the stalactites & stalagmites. It was a play of light & shadows, and of color & beauty.

The scale of the picture does not do justice to the ernormousity of the caves. This cavern is about 300ft wide by 200ft high. The little red stretch at the center are stairs climbing up 100ft.
We rounded a corner........       and entered a huge cavern! It was about 300ft wide by 200ft high. Further down, we had to climb up several flight of steps totalling about 100ft high.

Downwards and through some narrow passageway we went and then came upon......Wow! Another huge cavern, even more brightly lit in golden lights, with statues of gods of Chinese beliefs and animals of Chinese folklore.

Right at the center of this cavern, in a prominent place, was an impressive 30ft. tall golden statue of Kwan Yin, the Goddes of Mercy.

We left the bright cavern and went further, down more narrow and dark passageways and reached a lake. An underground lake! They were boatmen waiting for us in their boat. Hmm, we are going for an underground boat ride. Interesting...

Our boatman rowed the eight of us around the lake, serenading us with lovely Chinese songs. Too bad I was there with my colleagues and my wife was not around, it would have been more romantic then.
The ceiling of the lake cavern does get low at several places, and we had to duck our heads too. On & off the boatman had to interrupt his serenade and concentrate on the rowing. See, there are not only things sticking down but things sticking up too, and more dangerously so as some were underwater. Luckily our boatman was familiar with the route, and more importantly the boats were made of steel. Phew!

Red and blue lights doting the stairs (a climb of around 100ft.), crawling up the edges like a curving snake.
The boat ride was a relieve to our tired feet and although at times scary, it ended all too soon. At the end we climbed up another stairs and exited the caves to the bright sunlight. Our eyes needing sometime to adjust to the glare.
Now, we found ourselves at the edge of a cliff overlooking the entrance park. Another long climb down. Thank goodness that was not the case. There were cable-car chairs for us to ride down. No photos here as I was enjoying and relaxing to the cool air as we rode down. Heh! Heh!

We left the scenic caves, passing by this unique cone-shaped hill and headed for our next destination - an exposition called "Colorful Yunnan" at the outskirts of Kunming City.

"Colorful Yunnan" is indeed an expo, with a main building and several other pavilions - each promoting their local product, eg. tea, herbs, cottage wares, etc. The place looks fairly new, but scenic with a man-made lake.

We had lunch at the main building, after which we felt it was proper to feed others, i.e. the koi in the pond. So we bought some bread from a vendor and did just that - hopefully that will bring us some good karma!

After lunch we attended a traditional tea ceremony (it's one of those mandatory visit to presentation & factory outlets required by the Chinese Government required for any tour group). It was interesting and an eye-opener as Yunnan is renown for it's world-class Pu Er Chinese tea.
To add to the authenticity, the ladies doing the presentation were clad in colorful tribal dresses. Seizing the moment, we did make a size-able purchase of tea to take back home, it was so much cheaper here - i.e. if you bargain the price down!

The Shangrila-Dynamic Yunnan Show

The bus sent us back to Kunming city where we checked into the King World Hotel.
But our day was not over yet, there was more to come! After a quick bath and dinner at the hotel, we went to see this wonderful show called Shangrila-Dynamic Yunnan (see also YouTube video)

A single drummer with a giant drum kicked of the show, his slow & loud drum beat slowly quickening, making a promise of more exciting things to come.

He was joined by other drummers, all on big drums Their drum beats reveberating through the hall. With the louder sounds, our heart-beats were quickening with the beat of the drums and our eyes glued to the stage.

From both sides, dancers clad in tribal costumes, made their way swaying and swinging onto the stage. The call of the drums were a call of dawn, waking to a new day.

On the left the lady dancers came in with fast but feminine movements and at the same time singing a call for daylight to come.

From the right, the male drum dancers came beating their small drums vigorously to ward away evil spirits for a good and peaceful day.

The dancer exited and the stage darkened. A spotlight shone on a single drummer who was doing a slow drum beat. But a his tempo quickened, more lights slowly lit up to show more drummers who joined in one by one.

With the stage fully lit now, girl drummers carried their drums onto the center. Two girls to a drum, their beat was different, alternating between the top and sides of their drums.

The drumbeats grew louder & louder, and faster & faster; rising to a crescendo and ended to an abrupt silence, and to the applause of the audience - yours truly here clapping the loudest.

With the sudden silence, the stage blackened; all was quiet and dark and the audience was hanging in anticipation, wondering what will come next.
A large yellow round light slowly emerged, rising like a full moon. In contrast to the bright and loud drummers, a slow figure slowly emerged to soft, serene music. Her silhouette clearly outlined in the moonlight.

From an idling position she slowly moved with the music and started dancing a sensuous move.

Her movement were graceful, with the sway of her body and the swing of her arms caught in the sharp moonlight.

The angle of her body, arms and opened fingers was a clear silhouette. 

Amazing! A simple dance routine, presented in a perfect way to show the beauty of the human body. The hall was pin-drop silent, one person enchanting hundreds.

The moon started to wane and the music slowly grew softer and slower. So did the movements of the dancer, her arms in a slow-motion flutter, seemingly like sea gulls flying out to sea..... and darkness again! Only then was there any movement and sound from the entranced audience. (see YouTube video on this dance)

That fine performance was followed by the Huayao Flower song & dance. The performers again clad in tribal colors.

During the intermission, I went to the foyer and bought some DVDs and souvenirs on the show. The posters there elaborated that the show was co-produced by renown dancer Ms.Yang Liping, who also performed the few solo dance routines (like the Silhouette Moon Dance). The many performers who dance and sang so well were amateurs - actually real-life people from minority tribes of China. They also made their own costumes! It must be the natural flair in them to have such creativity. Perhaps, it is in their everyday life to sing and to dance.

After the intermission, the show continued with another tribal dancd - the Harvest Dance. Really their colorful costumes ares something and their lively songs brings out the nomadic spirit in oneself.

Next was a serious dance number "World of Women" - so song, just loud staccato music and lively dancing.

Their straw hats made this routine mysterious, the horizontally lined skirts swaying to provide a balance pattern. The dance movements were vigorously masculine, what message were they trying to convey? 

However, from the build of their bodice and arms, I suspect that these dancers were men, only the lead dancer is a women! Was the title of the dance correct, or is there another implication somewhere?

The stage darkened again, and then out from the darkness emerged a single lady dancer clad in white.

This is the Peacock Dance - her movements gracefully imitating a strutting peacock .....

..... a flying peacock.

The lone peacock was joined by other peacock dancers, but always keeping their distance as she was the princess. Is this the Chinese version of Swan Lake?

The show ended in a majestic way. A male dancer pulling a train at least 50 feet long and the width of the stage, with patterns glowing mysteriously in the dark ultra-violet light - shimmering like that of a peacock.

With that the performers came out routine by routine to the thunderous applause of the audience. It was a memorable show well worth seeing.

It had been a long but interesting day, one of caves, pavilions and dance. We went back to our hotel had congee supper and hit our beds, looking forward to another exciting day tomorrow.

Similar Posts :

China-Yunnan Day 1

China-Yunnan Day3

China-Yunnan Day 4

China-Yunnan Day 5

China-Yunnan Day 6

China-Yunnan Day 7 & 8

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