Rockin' Snow Mountain: A Lijiang travel diary part 2

Culture | by Stephan Larose
Posted: November 3rd, 2010 | Updated: July 25th, 2012 | Comments
Old Shuhe, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lijiang, China In search of a story filled with interesting characters and good times, music, drinking and mayhem, Stephan Larose recently spent three days partying at the Snow Mountain Music Festival. He interviewed a few bands, got all his nasty clothes stinking like campfire smoke and spent long periods in a near-hypothermic state. Here is that story.>>> Go back to Rockin' Snow Mountain: A Lijiang travel diary part 1 Day 2. Brian's inner conflict pitting alcohol versus paranoia was eventually settled in paranoia's favor. To my regret, assurances that I would "defeat all foes" and crush assailant skulls with my bare hands failed to persuade him. From flickering shadows in Brian's drunken brain (now mentally projected into dark corners of the abandoned bar), leaped machete-wielding assassins whose martial prowess must have outmatched my own. What a completely unrealistic fearful delusion—I've been to, like, three Muay Thai classes! But that was that. Brian was unyielding as he marched us out-of-doors. I said goodbye to my warm little fortress of pillows and braced myself for another coat-less venture out into the icy rain. Outside, day had broken. We walked along, our collective mirth now replaced by frostbitten doubt that we'd emerge from this little adventure untouched by the flu or worse. Then—salvation—a little noodle-joint open at this ungodly hour! We slurped back the bowls of warm fluid gratefully before asking for directions to our guesthouse. In the end, we'd spent nearly three hours trying to find our way home and once back, I couldn't help but slap myself in the forehead. The guesthouse (K2 Hostelling International #1 Guailiu Lane, Kangpu Rd, Shuhe, Tel. +86 888 513 0110) was, in actuality, only just over five minutes' walk from the Yeti bar (41 Jiewei Cun, Shuhe Old Town, Mobile: 152 8448 3905) where we'd finished up our night. I slept until about 4:00 p.m.. After a long shower, I had a quick meal of kugua chao dan (fried egg with bitter melon), tudou si (potato strips) and xilan hua (steam-fried broccoli), before making way to the main stage to enjoy a set by Iowa Super Soccer. The rain had let up a bit and the crowd had swelled to about 1,000. Running around taking pictures of their set I had my first taste of abuse by Chinese security. Though properly accredited and wearing my pass, one of the army personnel manning the barrier before the stage ran over instructing me not to put my elbow on the barrier—basically a hastily erected metal fence three rows of bars tall. With nobody around, I put on my best smile and tried to explain that I was just doing my job and that I was not a danger to anyone, I just needed to use the barrier to steady my hand for a low-light shot (all in broken Chinese of course). I tried to show him the difference it made on my camera, but to no avail. I asked him for just one minute more so I could do my job, but when I tried putting my elbow on the barrier I was quickly shoved onto the ground, my back soaking up water from the puddle I landed in. The organizers would later send me very sincere apology for this stating: "Sorry about that! The number one thing for the government is safety, and they are not sure how to secure that. So anything upset them or out of their understanding, they handle it in extreme ways." What, the Chinese government paranoid about security? No! But don't get me wrong, I refuse to paint all security with the same brush; I'd also seen soldiers engaged in what appeared to be games of tickling and giggling with each other (pretty lonely in those barracks huh boys?) not to mention the security dude break dancing in the mud in part 1. Overall, security was generally polite and ineffective, refusing to search bags and letting pretty much anyone stroll into VIP areas normally reserved for press and bands. What's most important here is that, thanks to the martial prowess I mentioned earlier, I was able to spin in midair and land on my back after the shove, thus keeping my camera dry. Cursing my aggressor as an idiot I ran back to the guesthouse to change and swiftly returned to the concert. I flashed my credentials to access the backstage area and started taking pictures from within the barrier, trying not to dwell on how absurd it was that I couldn't take a picture from beside the barrier, but had no problem taking pictures from just two feet over, inside it. [showtime] After a quick interview with Iowa Super Soccer (singer Natalia Baranowska told me "China was amazing, we will remember it for every year of our lives!") I made my way over to the grounds just beyond stage right to catch a shirtless Frank blowing 15-foot fireballs into the air, and Jo twirling angelic halos about herself with Poi. The displays of talent were beautiful, so was the music, but due to exhaustion from rigorous late night partying and the extreme weather survival adventure that had gone on well into this morning, I decided to call it an early night. Go on to Rockin' Snow Mountain: A Lijiang travel diary part 3 Go back to Rockin' Snow Mountain: A Lijiang travel diary part 1 All photos by Stephan Larose
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