Just 55km outside Dali, lies a quaint little town called Weishan. Its name, Weishan, comes fromweibao, treasure, and indeed it is precious as a remnant of classical Chinese life even more authentic than either Dali or Lijiang’s. In the 14th century, Weishan was an important center for tea trade on the ancient Tea Horse road. Built during the Ming Dynasty by emperor Hongwu, it was laid out like the chessboard game “weiqi” that he loved so well.
The first thing I noticed was how clean and quiet this town is. There are not many cars since the streets are so small. This is still mostly undiscovered and void of tourists. The walking streets are lined with little shops and restaurants. Unlike the touristy Dali, food and accommodations are less then half the price. We stayed in a new hotel in the center of the old town directly on the walking streets. Built like a traditional home, this was a perfect find. Our nice room was 100 RMB a night. Same thing in Dali would run at least 300 RMB. The hotel name is Mong She. Another thing of note is the complete lack of mosquitoes here. It was amazing to sleep with all the windows open and not use any chemical. Although the bed was normal Chinese brick design, I slept well as it is so quiet in this town.
The next morning we headed up Wei Bao Shan mountain just outside of town. This is a famous religious location that was quite interesting. The mountain comprises over 20 temples that you walk to as you ascend to the peak. It takes about 3 hours to do the trek. Approaching one temple, I was struck by the sound of beautiful music. It was to perfect detail to this beautiful setting we were walking through. Going along the pathway through the pine trees with these temples nestled along the way was really a real China experience.
We arrived at the temple where the source of this music was coming from. Looking around, I realized it was a recording. I found this lady there and asked her about the music. She didn’t know anything. This was music played on a guozen. See pictures.
Suddenly I ran into the lady pictured here. Her name is Chong Hui. She tells me this is her music she has just recorded and will release on DVD. I asked her for a copy and she said she only has the master now. We sat down and had tea with her and I learned of her stoory. She is 34 and has been playing and painting since 17. Her artwork was hanging up in the temple. She is also a Tai Chi master. While we talked I found out she is having a website made now by the Chinese govt to feature her arts. She wanted to give me a copy of her master disc, but she can’t use a computer. So I stepped in and gave her a PC beginner’s lesson on her new PC. We had a good time visiting with her there, but I could not make a copy because she has no blank DVD’s. But she will send someone to Kunming to give me a copy soon. Once I get it, I will post it to play on my website. So check back and listen in. Once her website is up, I will also link it to mine. Her artwork is also very good.
After leaving Weishan, we headed for Dali for an overnight before returning to Kunming. This little town is definitely worth a visit. Plan an overnight here at least.