Based on Dali history (with great arrangement) and on stories about the Taoist Cave in Higherland Inn, the English actor Angus Brown composed the following story after a one-month stay in 2003.


A huge 'Thanks' to him and all the other people (Vicky, Nicky, John and Mary...) who stayed around the fire listening to the story...

The little Cave

A long long time ago, way before you can remember, many many moons, before the first telephone, the first car or the first steam train. And a long long time before that...There was a Giant. He wasn't just a Giant; he was the largest toughest most dreaded and feared Giant there ever was! His name was Heng-Hui. No one really knows where he was from, some say he was from the ocean, and some say he flew from the sky. One thing was for sure, he was a mighty Giant. Legend had it that Heng Hui could crush a whole town with his heel, and that temples crumbled to the ground when he sneezed.

One day as he wandered in Northern Sichuan, he felt a pain in his left leg, he took a step forward to look down and see what it was, he felt a pain in his right leg. Suddenly with dismay, Heng Hui the mighty Giant realized he had been captured by the Great Emperor of the Tang Dynasty Tangtaizong. Tangtaizong had ordered 10,000 men to capture him by using two huge wooden traps, hundreds of feet high. They pulled Heng Hui to the ground.

For Ten years they kept Henghui in an enormous specially built dungeon, and using ancient dark arts, they gradually made the Giant humble. They crushed his wild spirit and he became the faithful servant of Tangtaizong. Eventually he was released from the dungeons and he sat by the Emperors side. A mascot of the Great Tang Dynasty. Meanwhile in the province of Yunnan, there was unrest amongst the Bai people who lived beside the gray mountains and the jade lake of Dali. Tangtaizong, the Emperor heard of this unrest and said: "SHIN ZHAO BU ZIN QUADO" which means "I WILL NOT HAVE THIS DISOBEDIENCE!" So Tangtaizong sent ten thousand men to Dali to crush the naughty Bai people, But the Bai people were strong spirited people, and sent the Tang armies back to Sichuan with their weapons in places. Chinese warriors wouldn't normally have put their weapons. In Dali, the Bai people were overjoyed and declared a national holiday. Thousands of people took to their boats and had a party on the lake for several weeks.

Emperor Tangtaizong was beside himself with fury and kicked several of his closest servants in frustration. In his wrath he turned to his faithful Giant Henghui and said:"ZAN DA DAN BU, GADE XU CHI GA. NERSHEJJLE BENEL GRANKE GUDOL", which means; crush those ungrateful Bai Bastards!

Now Henghui was a very big man, a giant in fact, and his legs were very long and so in a matter of minutes he traveled from Northern Sichuan to Dali, Yunnan, and stood hands on hips next to Erhai Lake and said in his big booming voice : "PEOPLE OF BAI I COME FROM EMPEROR Tangtaizong LEADER OF THE MIGHTY DYNASTY. YOU HAVE TWO CHOICES: EITHER YOU SWEAR ALLEGIENCE TO TANGTAIZONG TO SERVE HIM FOREVER OR I WILL DRINK THIS LAKE AND SPIT IT OUT AND YOU WILL ALL DROWN IN YOUR OWN DEFIANCE For a whole minute, the people of Dali froze in fear and dread at the anger and size of the biggest and most dreadful thing they had ever seen.

Then, Lee-chang, an old lady famous for her ability to drink 8 bottles of rice wine in one sitting, suddenly burst out laughing, He's not wearing any trousers' she screamed hysterically.

All the eyes of the Bai people averted to Heng hui's lower half-as did his. He realized, to his horror that in his hurry to please the emperor, Tangtaizong he had forgotten to put his trousers on. The Bai people could no longer contain themselves and burst into fits of uncontrollable laughter.The Emperor's Giant has no trousers, they scornfully mocked. Then we will always be free!!, Ha.! Ha! Ha! The more the Bai people laughed the more Giant Heng Hui went red, at first with embarrassment, which quickly turned to a colossal rage. He bellowed at his top voice RAAAAAARGH, with this mighty roar he pursed his lips and bent down low to drink Erhai Lake. Within seconds the huge lake was dry and the Giant's belly full The Bai people retreated in fear. But the Erhai Lake held a lot of water and proved too big for even the largest Giant. Weighed down by hundreds and hundreds of tones of water, Heng Hui fell into the dry lake, the water gushing huge waterfalls from his ears, nose and mouth. Heng Hui, lay unconscious for days and the Bai people once again celebrated. This time on the Giant's belly.!!

The Bai people declared independence and called their land The Nanzhao Kingdom. Heng Hui was led once again humiliated and defeated to Cang Mountain On The Side Of Dali Town. They found a great hole at the top of Cangshan Mountain and slowly tipped his oversized body into the belly of Cangshan. They put mighty rocks over the hole, so the Giant would never break free; The Nanzhao Kingdom was now complete. At first, Heng Hui was dazed and confused by the chain of events. Eventually, regaining strength the mighty giant unleashed his infamous wrath. He huffed and puffed and crashed and smashed. But try as he would he could not escape the prison of Cangshan mountain. However in his fury, he had hollowed out most of the mountain with his fists and thus creating more room for himself. As time went on, the story of Heng Hui went from being a legend to a hazy myth.

Weeks, Months and Years passed.

Now Juyin was a very well respected man in the Dali community. Not only was he a monk but also he was a Taoist master and teacher. He and his loyal friend & apprentice Baimei would advise the town of Dali in its day to day business and would often lead expeditions with local people to the great mountain of Cangshan. There they would teach meditation and the people would find solace in the mountains great silence and wisdom.
Sweelin was a naughty little girl. She was forever getting into trouble with local farmers for stealing fruit and would often get chased by her father for one thing or another. Juyin-the Taoist master was fond of the girl and would take her to the mountains and teach her meditation and try to shake some discipline into the young tear away. One place he would take sweelin was a little cave, many many hundreds of feet above town.This is a place where I come when my mind is fuzzy, Sweelin, Here I meditate and look into my soul for answers Sweelin didn't really know what he was talking about. She didn't do that meditation stuff. She did like the place though. One day she went to the cave alone. Like her master Juyin, she knelt on the cushion and sung a song she learned at school about Beetles and bugs. As she sang, she was aware of another sound, a kind of wailing, she stopped singing. The wailing was coming from a crack in the side of the cave. Frightened she ran out of the cave. But being a curious young thing, Sweelin crept back into the cave to hear the mysterious wailing. The song was weird and full of little sweet gargling noises. It made her laugh. The next day in school, she told all her friends of the strange and wonderful songs she had heard in the mountains. Soon all the children at Dali school had heard about this and after classes had finished on Friday afternoon, children of all ages ascended Cangshan Mountain to visit the cave sweelin had told them about.

Meanwhile Heng Hui the Giant was alive; well, angry and living in Cangshan Mountain. The time was right for revenge. For days now he had been scratching at the innards of the mountain and widening the hole at the side of the Taoist Cave. The hole was now big enough for something small to pass through it a small child perhaps? The children enchanted by Heng Hui's sad singing had congregated by the small cave. They stood giggling and laughing at the bizarre giggling and wailing coming from the mountain. As quick as a flash, Sweelin was lifted from her feet before she had even gone into the cave. The other children rubbed their eyes Sweelin had disappeared. Then another child Wangsung vanished too. Into the cave he went, quick as a flash.. One by one the children vanished. Henghui with his mighty wings was swallowing all the Dali Children one by one into the mountain.

Once inside the mountain the children horrified, screamed and screamed and screamed. The noise was too much for the giant to bear and he let out a mighty roar and once again crashed and smashed inside the mountain. The walls of the Cangshan mountain cave could not bear the noise and shakings of Heng Hui fists and feet and it crumbled in on itself, vastly reducing Cangshan in size and killing the Mighty Giant and all the little children of Dali.


Today, the little cave is still used for Taoist meditation and a cafe and bed and breakfast called The Higherland Inn has grown around the cave and many people enjoy the view of Dali from its fabulous vantage point.

Not many people know of the story of Heng Hui, the giant, but sometimes, just sometimes, if you listen really hard, you can hear the sad song of Heng Hui... or is it just the wind?

(P.S.:Earplugs are available for rent at the Higherland Inn ;-) )
Tel: 0086 0872 2661599 or 13988539680
E-mail: higherlandali@gmail.com

Add: Cangshan Daorendong, Dali old town
Yunnan, China, 671003
The Higherland Inn is a friend of the Sky & Sea Lodge, the collective Slow Motion,
the trekking agency Amiwa Trek, the culture studio Smart Fish and the Yoga studio Yoga Gaia.