Documenting Mosuo Culture: Morning Hike and BBQ Opening Party

I woke up surprisingly early this morning. I silently changed into my outdoor clothes and took a walk. My walk then turned into a hike up the hills behind Lige. I scoured up narrow paths from old paths left by goats in the past. I climbed with my hands and feet up steep sandy hills and under overgrown paths until I just gave up following paths and raced up to the top of the hill. I reached the tip and was greeted with the risen sun over blue Lugu Lake. I found a burnt log to sit on and enjoyed the scenery. I belted out American and Chinese songs over the small town of Lige and the calm lake.

I continued up the hill following manmade paths to the peak of the mountain. I reached the top to find an aged shrine made of piled rocks with burnt pine needles and moss covering it. I looked at it more closely and noticed the shrine looked a bit like a fish. The pile was arched like a head coming out of the water, while gradually smaller piles of rocks trailed behind it like a long fin. Was this the mythical fish creature the Mosuo genesis story brought up? I had a hard time leaving the spiritual place. I bowed in respect to the shrine before slowly hiking down the other side of the mountain.

(I later asked around and it turned out this place was a shrine where local families burn and bury the bones of the deceased. A local told me that the peaks of mountains around Lige have these kinds of shrines.)

I thought the other side of the mountain would have a path to the main road. I almost hit the bottom only to find 12 feet tall walls of dirt getting in the way of my descent. I crawled through brush hoping to find a way down, but there was no option except for a rocky patch I could climb down. I attempted to go down at first, but was too afraid. I called for help when some bikers passed. One of the men helped etch some footholds for me and guided my feet into the holes. I was so grateful! I made it to the 6 foot mark and then jumped into a pile of sand near the street. I was seriously afraid I would injure myself without their help, so I was really thankful!

We said our goodbyes and started walking along the main road back to Lige village. I coincidentally bumped into the Nat Geo crew on the main road buying nuts and shared with them my adventure. I was still a bit shaken from the event.

We headed back to begin interviews with the barbecue owners. They would be opening up their shop that night to their friends, then the official opening would be the next day. We stayed at the BBQ all day. The interview consisted of asking him of what Lugu Lake was like before tourism, how he felt opening this shop, and what his plans were after making money. He planned on buying land in the countryside and leading a simple life after making enough money and enjoying the world.

As night approached, locals began to come in groups. The crew recorded as I talked with the guests and owners on the side. More people starting piling in, the place was getting louder and smokier. The performers from the “Flower Room Ballad” performance came in and started playing music and singing. The restaurant was getting drunker and drunker by the hour. It soon began roaring with laughter, music, and people having a good time. I was getting drunk from the atmosphere. Our friends who opened this place were happy as they drank and sang with friends.

Our friend, YE, one of the owners, mentioned to us before that making money leads to more trouble in the future. He is in an odd between in his desires–he wants to live in the countryside, but still desires to know what’s beyond the lake. In this very moment in his life, he has taken a step forward in developing his life towards fortune. It may lead to more desire and trouble in the future, but at least tonight was a happy moment in his life. No need to worry about the future just yet. Let’s enjoy tonight.

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My Friends and their New BBQ Joint

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