April 14, 2016


When I think of Shaxi, I'll think of one word: cold. No wait, two words: cold and beautiful. No, wait, three words: cold, beautiful, and mountains.

I'd add 'flu' into the mix but I'd like to forget it; poor Marc got some kind of 24-hour flu blast as we arrived in Shaxi, complete with pretty good fever and chills and body aches. Since it was also FREEZING and raining, at first it was hard to tell that he was sick, because as soon as we checked in, we both ran for the bed and piled on the blankets, shivering and teeth-chattering. The drive from Xizhou was spectacular, taking us up and up and up, winding up the beautiful mountains to the crest, and then dropping slowly past one gorgeous valley after another. Unusually (really, why??) I was wearing flip-flops and the driver had the car windows down so by the time we got there, my toes were completely frozen but I was in pure awe of the landscape.

As always, the driver had a hard time finding the place, driving past it up into the tiny tiny little village, asking one person after another. Finally we backtracked a bit, and there it was: The Old Theatre Inn:

the view from below, but not taken the dark, rainy day we arrived
we drove past it when we were coming in
We sat in the little waiting area while we were being checked in, shivering and drinking tiny cups of lukewarm tea and nibbling delicious little ginger cookies (I'd have loved some steaming hot ginger tea, which we've gotten previously), and this was the view:

BRRRRR....cold rain outside. But all the doors had these ingenious screens
that closed with magnets. I want a set for my French doors in Austin!
The rooms are not in the theater, but rather in the buildings in the courtyard, which used to be a school, apparently. They're small and dark, but that felt good since it was so cold and wet outside. There was some kind of electric bedwarmer underneath the mattress padding, and that combined with the thick comforter and a super thick blanket on top finally got us warm enough. The rain took a pause too, so out we went for a walk, still not really realizing that poor Marc was actually getting sick.

those mountains, those clouds...
lots of crops being grown everywhere, and sometimes goats in the fields
rapeseed in bloom EVERYWHERE
a worker's pause
houses near the inn
just down the road from the inn a bit
this rock marks the entrance to the village behind the inn
plenty of wheat being grown
just extraordinary in every way
That's the old theater -- hundreds of years old, and restored. Performances are staged there some evenings.
restaurant upstairs, lobby below
a brief moment of sunset color, shortly swallowed up by clouds
Marc was starting to feel worse, and it was getting dark and cold, so we went back to our room to warm up, and then upstairs to the inn's restaurant for dinner. Pumpkin ginger soup and some kind of chicken, not at all memorable in any way, but I met my dear old friend and was happy about that:

I always enjoy trying the local beers when we travel but was not really impressed by any of the Chinese beers. I'd
decided not to have any more beer and then saw this on the menu, my very favorite beer anyway:
Beerlao, the beer of wholehearted people.
We went to sleep early, and Marc's fever was high enough that he felt extremely hot to the touch, so the night was not very comfortable for him, but by the morning he was feeling better, not perfect but well enough to go out for another walk after breakfast, before our driver picked us up at noon.

This little village is up behind the inn, and it was so beautiful I just wanted to stay,
Sunny and not as cold as the day before -- they are master farmers in rural China.
SUPER happy. So so so so happy.
a lone hyacinth
Marc felt better, for sure, but drained and tired.
altars for incense and offerings
village life
the busy center of the village, we think
these people are not poor -- their lives are hard-working, perhaps (don't know....) and they are surrounded
by such beauty
and food is grown everywhere possible
We had a driver from the village hired to take us to Lijiang ("Driver Yang," he was always called), so we checked out at noon and headed north to Lijiang. Shaxi = cold, beautiful mountains. I still agree.

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