5 October 2011

Breakin' The Law! [Lijiang, China]

The cobble streets of the Lijiang old town form a narrow maze, containing cute shops selling everything your tourist heart desires. Yak meat, hand made shawls, jewellery and other local food. These are separated by thin canals which divide the old town, skirted by weeping willows and bright flowers. I'm doing my best to paint a picture here, and not really sure how well I'm doing... How about a couple of photos instead?

I managed to find a CouchSurfing host in Lijiang - a kiwi guy named Kieth. He has lived in the area for over 15 years, so was an invaluable source of information. Not only that but he put me up in his friends newly renovated, unoccupied house. Top man!

I spent a day exploring the Lijiang old town. I'm not going to describe it again, but I will say that it is a very nice place to spend a day wandering around. Well, apart from the tourists. I think Lijiang is a more extreme version of Dali. More of everything, especially bus loads of Chinese tourists. Seriously; everywhere!

I had had enough of paying the ridiculous entry fees for every hill I wanted to climb or park I wanted to visit. So I did a little research and found there is a free way in to Black Dragon Pool Park (a nice park just outside the old town). And I was successful, saving myself Y80! It was a really nice park, and had a beautiful view of Yulong Mountain... but Y80? No way.


I have found some of the nicest scenery in China when I hired a bike and got out of the city, so I decided to do the same thing in Lijiang. I cycled out toward Yulong Mountain where I found Jade Water Village. They wanted some crazy amount to get in, so I flagged that. Only a few kilometers away is Yuhu Snow Village. Cycling around was like stepping back in time; nestled up against the mountains, the village looks as though it has not changed in 100 years. One of the best parts was seeing these old vehicles they use to transport stuff around. In most of China I have seen these... contraptions... that are the bare necessities you need to make a vehicle. They sat down and said "right, what do we need... a chassis, wheels, an engine and a steering wheel. No need for panels, suspension or any of that guff!". They have taken it one step further here, where the engine actually sits on a pivot, so to steer you actually turn the whole engine.

Cycling back toward town I visited Fugu Temple. Again, did not go in because of the entry fee, but found the surrounding area really interesting. A lot of minority people singing or selling bits and pieces, including furs (including tiger!). Not far away is Shuhe Village, which is a beautiful old village, filled with lots of trees and flowers, cobble streets, canals. Basically it is what I image Lijiang to be 20 years ago.

One interesting observation - the Naxi people (the largest minority religion in Yunnan) still use a hieroglyphic written language. Apparently the last culture in the world to do so. Pretty cool eh?

A few other random snaps -

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