Some 200km north of Lijiang, Lugu Lake is shallow and attractive, surrounded by mountains and bisected by the Sichuan border. The people up here are Mosuo, who maintain matrilineal traditions such as axia marriage, where a woman takes several husbands. Women run the households and children are brought up by their mothers – men have no descendants or property rights. Glibly marketed as a “Girl Kingdom” free-for-all to single Chinese men – who inevitably head back home disappointed – tourism has become well established in recent years, but the lake remains a pleasant place to kick back and do nothing much for a couple of days, before making the tiring bus journey to Xichang in southern Sichuan.

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