Spectacular Lijiang

Photo © Bob Krist

We’ve caught a bit of a weather break in Lijiang, in western China.  What a beautiful area this is! In the foothills of the Himalayas, it’s one of the gateways to Tibet, and it’s being promoted heavily as a destination for Chinese tourists by their government.

Here, the lives of acceptable ethnic minorities like the Naxi and the Mosos are celebrated (as opposed to the minority in the T-word country, which as you know, is not being celebrated).

Yes, tourism is king here. I used to joke with my brother Gary, a writer with whom I’ve worked on countless stories, that if we had a nickle for every hotel folklore show we’ve sat through, we’d be millionaires.

But as jaded as I am in that department, nothing prepared me for the 500-man spectacular show called Lijiang Experience. It is the mother of all folkloric shows, and was directed by the same gentlemen who directed the opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics.

Gadzooks! I knew I was being fed a company line on the way all minorities get along together, but just like the Coca Cola Disney (thanks to reader Peter for pointing out the error in sponsorship attribution)  “It’s a Small World After All” exhibit did at the New York World’s Fair in the early ’60’s, this show just captivated me. What can I say?

Sometimes, despite the 45-or-so years that has passed since I saw “It’s a Small World” out in Queens, spectacular visuals still sway me and help me overlook glaring script inaccuracies. I guess that’s why I’m a shooter and not a writer!

But, despite the slickly-packaged tourism product available in Lijiang, we did manage to capture some slices of real life, including photographing a couple Dongbas, or holy men, doing their thing.  To see a few of them, plus a few more of the show pix, hit the jump.

Photo © Bob Krist

Photo © Bob Krist

Photo © Bob Krist

Photo © Bob Krist

Photo © Bob Krist

Photo © Bob Krist

This entry was posted in Destinations, Events, Ironies, Photo Gear, Travel.


  1. Robert McClintock April 17, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    What can I say with out sounding obsequiously complimentary. I marvel at how you capture a moment in light, as with the Holy Man (scribe). After having read your “Secrets of Lighting on Location” I am most curious if you simply used ambient light, or you made it look that way.

    Also, what a contrast betwixt the two shots of the dance team on the “ramps.” The first looks like an elaborate set designed to look like the outdoors. The second reveals that it is outdoors, and the true majesty of the event.

    As always, “in the hands of a master.”

    • Bob April 17, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

      Bob: You’re too kind. With 500 actors and that setting, though, I’d have to be blind not to get a couple of shots out of it! The holy man shot was off camera flash, held for me by another passenger, and bounced off her white shirt since the ceilings and walls were dark brown wood. Bob

  2. Jim April 17, 2010 at 8:16 pm #

    Absolutely Spectacular Images..You are the Master of Travel Images. Thank you.

    • Bob April 18, 2010 at 12:23 am #

      Jeez, Jim, thanks. Wish you were a photo editor! BK

  3. Peter April 18, 2010 at 8:03 am #

    A small editorial correction, Bob. “It’s a Small World” was part of the Disney exhibit at the ’64 fair. No cola was involved. You’re probably thinking of the “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” ad from around 1971:



    • Bob April 18, 2010 at 8:05 am #

      Peter: You are absolutely correct. Thanks for pointing it out, I’ll make the necessary corrections! Bob

      • Peter April 18, 2010 at 5:25 pm #


        Hey, no problem. By the time I’m through I’m sure most of my favorite renowned photographers will at one point or another also come around to admit that I’m absolutely correct.



  4. Andrew April 18, 2010 at 9:22 pm #

    Hi Bob,

    Your pictures always amaze me in capturing the beauty and character of the places and people you encounter! And your witty narrative makes the photos even more interesting! Thanks for a wonderfully entertaining blog!


    • Bob April 19, 2010 at 5:34 am #

      Thanks Andrew! Bob

  5. Dana Hess April 19, 2010 at 5:41 pm #


    Hope you’re enjoying the trip. Great pix. Just curious… what color balance setting did you use for the temple shot? Love the blue background hue.

    • Bob April 19, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

      Dana: It was on Vivid Jpeg and Fluorescent WB, which is seeming to be my go to settings for these hazy grayish twilights. Bob

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