Noilly Prattle: China - Winter 2016 (Butterfly Spring + )

Thursday, May 5, 2016

China - Winter 2016 (Butterfly Spring + )

     After some nine days in Dali we were feeling comfortable getting around the Old Town and venturing farther afield outside the walls. We heard about a place called Butterfly Spring near a town called Zhoucheng where they make indigo blue tie-dyed fabrics. Since we were looking for a table cover made of the fabric we decided to take a day trip and hired a car and driver for the 25km drive. There were three stops on our agenda for the day: Butterfly Spring, Zhoucheng and an old town called Xizhou.


the aquamarine waters of the Butterfly Spring

pink granite statue of Xu Xiake
old and sagging gateway arch to Butterfly Spring
        Butterfly Spring is a park containing a natural spring fed from underground water running down from the Cangshan mountains. The spring was first described during the Ming Dynasty (14th to 17th Centuries) by a geographer named Xu Xiake. The spring is a lovely blue green pool of clear water. In April many species of butterflies migrate here and hang from the trees in colorful profusion. Unfortunately, February was too early for the butterflies. 
octagonal pavilion by the spring

love you forever promises
       The site is popular with young lovers (and older ones too) who come here and buy colorful ribbons and hang them from the trees along a path festooned with thousands of them wishing for happy unions. The path is a riot of undulating color when the wind ruffles and blows through the ribbons. There is a romantic legend of a pair of star crossed lovers who jumped into the pool a avoid an unwelcome suitor and died. They emerged as a pair of beautiful butterflies—thus the name Butterfly Spring. 

the love boat - 
doing damage control
You think it'll be fixed
for the next show?
           Dances are performed by local young people dressed in Bai ethnic costumes. But due to apparent technical difficulties we were unable to catch a performance.


        Zhoucheng turned out to be the highlight of the afternoon. As soon as the driver pulled up to a city gate two women practically grabbed us by the arm and pulled us along. Bewildered at first, we allowed ourselves to be led when we noticed a large crowd of people gathered around an outdoor stage with music and firecrackers. There was a festival going on and we wanted to stop and have a look, but the two determined ladies kept urging us forward.

people gathered around the outdoor stage

one of our abductresses
our circular tie-dye fits perfectly on the dining room table
        I soon spotted a tie-dye shop and pointed to an item and indicated by sign language that we were interested in buying something. One of the ladies nodded and indicted that she knew that and urged us on until we arrived at an atelier where they make tie-dye fabrics. It suddenly dawned on me that these ladies hadn't met us accidentally. They must have been contacted by our driver on his cell phone, because they were obviously waiting for us at the gate. One of the ladies showed us around and demonstrated the process of making the fabrics and then led us into the shop. We wanted to buy a large circular piece for our dining room table and we were shown a couple of beauties, one just the right size. I bargained (now becoming a veteran) until we arrived at a mutually acceptable price—240 ¥uan (about $35), a real bargain for the piece which is all hand made. 

the outdoor stage
the audience
       After leaving the atelier we wandered over to the festival and had a lot of fun watching a costume show that reminded us of kabuki and kagura dances in Japan.

the performance

no idea what the chicken's all about


        We were pretty foot sore from a lot of walking when we arrived at our last destination, the old town of Xizhou. Maybe we were just tired but the old town seemed all too familiar after spending eight days in Dali Old Town and it seemed overrun with tourist souvenir shops. Just took a couple of photos and slowly walked back to the car and told the driver to take us back to Dali.

Xizhou Square

one humongous tree

"Fancy a ride, darlin'?"

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