Noilly Prattle: China - Winter 2016 (Erhai Lake cruise)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

China - Winter 2016 (Erhai Lake cruise)

the cruise ship and Li Xue
     Having visited the shore of Erhai Lake and Caicun Port the logical next thing to do was take a boat on the lake. There are several options for cruises on Erhai Lake and we discussed taking one with Lu at the front desk of the Yin Feng Hotel. She arranged everything for a discount price of 120¥ ($18.50) per person including a car and driver to the pier and another one to take us back to the hotel.

Chen Xiao Cheng and Li Xue and RB
       Our driver turned out to be an impatient cowboy dodging and honking and passing other cars for a rather seat-of-the-pants ride, but, miraculously it seemed to me, we did arrive at the pier in one piece. We had been speculating whether there would be many people taking the cruise, but we were surprised and immediately overwhelmed by the large crowd of people and complete lack of English. It looked like there were large crowds of Chinese tourists still lingering from the Chinese New Year. We were motioned to stand aside while our driver spoke to the ticketing agent. 

posing for the camera
        There was a young couple standing nearby, also waiting for tickets. We looked at them, smiled and shrugged. The tickets arrived and seeing that we were bewildered the young folks took us in hand and between broken English and Japanese (the young woman had lived in Tokyo for a short time) and body and sign language they guided us onto the boat and stayed with us throughout most of the boat trip. We became fast friends, taking each other's pictures and generally having a great time. The young man's name is Guo Xiao Cheng and the young woman's Li Xue. Unfortunately we didn't get around to learning the meaning of their names in English.

comedy skit and dance routine
        There were two stops on the lake and a dance show before the stops. The dance show (video clip above) was humorous, colorful, tuneful and loud. Great fun! The show included three tea samples, two of which were good... The first stop was a small island nearly dwarfed by the boat with a small temple on it. There is a small market geared for the large crowds that come ashore from the boats. The stop was very short and mostly consisted of jostling with the other passengers for food and getting into the little temple to make an incense offering or just moving around the narrow spaces.

the little prince
tiny island and temple stop

prayers in the tiny temple

       One of the highlights, for me, was the seagulls. They are accustomed to following the cruise ships where they are guaranteed food. The birds followed they ship constantly from a great distance behind right up alongside the ship flying up, over and around often within touching distance while the passengers threw them food. The highlight was when a man caught one of the seagulls by the legs trying frantically to escape making for a great photo op and a money shot.

feeding the birds

captured seagull



Imperial Palace
Guanyin - Goddess of Mercy
       The second stop was a larger island with an Imperial Palace and an enormous statue of the Buddhist Bodhisattva Guanyin [観音] (Kannon in Japanese), goddess of mercy and compassion. The boat made a longer stop here near a small park dedicated to "Mother Shayi" a mythical female figure who is the legendary mother of the local tribal peoples through a kind of mystical union with a dragon (well, this is China, what else?). Xiao Cheng and Li Xue left us here since they were taking a different boat. We said good bye and thanked our young friends for their friendship and assistance. We walked up to the palace passing by the statue of Guanyin. The palace is now a hotel so it was only of limited interest with some large ceramic vases, sculpture and a pretty bamboo garden. A short hop back to the mainland ended our cruise on Erhai Lake where we were met by another driver to take us back to the hotel.

Mother Shayi
bamboo garden and fountain

 dragon window sculpture

the littlest emperor
return to port

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