After Lijiang we travelled to a new ancient town. Shuhe is only a couple of miles away and is part of the same UNESCO world heritage site. Traditionally it is associated with the Bai and Naxi people, though the large influx of Han Chinese into Yunnan is reflected here as well.
One thing we like about Lijiang was that some of the traditional ethnic groups are based on matriarchal societies. Our taxi drivers were, for instance, unusually for China, often women.
A lot of the travel guides describe Shuhe as less commercialised and touristy than the main Lijiang old town but our visit showed that Shuhe is catching up fast. There was a constant noise of jack hammers as the streets were dug up to install new cabling and much of the town was being redeveloped to increase its tourist potential.
The following gallery gives some idea of our couple of days in Shuhe:
Shuhe was on the Ancient Tea Horse Road and we found its museum while we wandered around. The museum is set in several halls of what used to part of the Mu mansion complex. In its time the Tea Horse Road was as important a trading route as the Silk Road. It runs between Yunnan, Tibet and India. As well as a trade route it became a cultural corridor, aiding the spread of Buddhism in the area.
The museum also has a hall with the history of Shuhe’s leather-working industry. There are still active workshops in the town. They discouraged photography in most of the museum, but here are a couple of shots…