Most of us on the trip are of Chinese Ethnicity or married to one who is. Our travel experience is far and wide and many of us have been to China before but I am sure that none of us have ever had an in-depth look into rural China. The location of the Linden Centre in the small village of Xizhou near Er Hai Lake and the nearby Cangshan Mts. was an ideal hub for us to explore the area. We would wake up early and witness the sunrise over the fields of broadbean and wheat. A simple Chinese and Western breakfast prepared by the on-site chefs fueled us to venture out to the morning farmer's market. On the way, we would pass Bai-style residential houses. The Bai people is one of 26 ethnic minority groups in Yunnan Province. We also saw other minorities such as the Yi and Naxi people. The walks on the village streets and markets gave us an insight into the world of Jeanee & Brian Linden and their two boys. They have established a unique site that have drawn visitors from all over the world. The center itself, with its 14 guest rooms, library, tv room, meditation room, dining room and 4 courtyards and a roof terrace, rivals that of any 5 star resort we have encountered in our travels.
Brian and Jeanee along with staff members, Lei Lei, Ling Ling, Frank and Adrian created a wonderful mixture of trips and activities for our group. At the center, activities included how to make steamed buns, videos and slides on Yunnan and it's Ethnic Minorities. Nearby trips included visiting a tearoom and sampling teas; watching a Bai dance performance and receiving the Traditional Three Course Tea served during the performance; a hike up to a tea plantation overlooking the famous Three Pagodas in Dali., a visit to Dali Old Town for shopping and a wonderful ride by horse cart to the lake where we boarded boats to watch cormorants catch fish. Another nearby visit was to a school where each Saturday, Martha Aurelius from Wisconsin, would teach English to the local Bai children. She is also tutor to the Linden's two boys, Shane & Bryce. On this particular Saturday, two teachers in our group taught 2 songs in English to the children.
We took a day trip to Weishan and visited a Muslim village. These Muslims were different than those found in the Middle East. We also made visits to a famous Taoist Mountain. Weibaoshan. This gave us some perspective into the religions of the area. Another day trip took us to the East side of Er Hai Lake where we went to another Bai market and a nunnery and temple.
Our last long distance trip took us further north to Lijiang, a bustling city at the base of mighty Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, 18,360 feet above sea level. We first visited a nearby grotto at another Taoist, Shibaoshan where we saw 1200 year old stone carvings. The carvings exhibit a Hindu sensibility which demonstrates the cosmopolitan nature of old Yunnan where Chinese and Indian culture collided.
By far the highlight of our Lijiang adventure was the attendance at a beautifully choreographed show directed by the man who choreographed the 2008 Beijing Opening/Closing Ceremonies. We completed our journey here by wandering the streets and alleys of Lijiang Old Town.
Thanks, Lindens, for introducing us Overseas Chinese to the "real" China. We would highly recommend your site to everyone .
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.