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Himalaya

Day 82: Lugu Lake to Lijiang

Michael Palin - HimalayaShanzidou, at 18,350 feet (5590 m) is the tallest of 13 limestone pinnacles that crown the summit of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. With its brilliant white scarf of snow, this jagged diadem of ice and snow effortlessly dominates the northwestern horizon as we enter the village of Baisha.

Surrounded by a fertile plain, it's a quiet, attractive little place. Its main streets are more like lanes, with water rushing down open culverts, past houses of traditional mud-brick built on stone bases and topped with Alpine-style, wide-eaved roofs. Some of the buildings, including a fine stone gate-tower suggest grander times, and, indeed, Baisha was once the capital of the Naxi kingdom, before it was conquered by Kublai Khan 800 years ago.

In recent years it has rediscovered fame as the home of He Shixiu, known to the world as Dr Ho, one of the leading lights of Chinese traditional medicine. It's not hard to find his house, partly because the bus stops right outside and partly because of a battery of display boards leaning against the trees and covered with press headlines.

'The Famous Dr Ho', 'Dr Ho – He Has Many Friends', 'He Loves Open-Door Policy' and 'Bruce Chatwin – 17 Years Ago He Stayed Here for Two Weeks'.

His son, Ho Shulong, emerges from the front door of a modest, two-storey house to welcome us. For a moment, it's hard to get a word in edgeways, as he reels off details of his father's worldwide fame. Some 500 articles about him in 40 languages, 300,000 people treated in 40 countries. National Geographic Channel are here today to talk about making a film about him, as is a British woman who already has made a film about him, called The Most Admired Man.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 82: Lugu Lake to Lijiang
  • Country/sea: China
  • Place: Baisha
  • Book page no: 192

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