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 had ordered 10,000 men to capture
him by using two huge wooden traps,
hundreds of feet high. They pulled Heng Hui to
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
– 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
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
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
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?
are available for rent at the Higherland Inn ;-) )