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Published: April 23rd 2010
Less than two hours after finishing my gorge trek I had arrive in Lijiang. The old town is extremely popular amongst Chinese tourists who come from all over the country to visit. I checked into Mama's Naxi guesthouse. The Naxi are a minority group in this region. Mama was absolutely crazy though. A tiny woman with a booming voice, if she was around, you were sure to know it. And of course she insisted we all call her Mama.
The old town was huge, with cobblestone roads that intertwined like a snake. To be honest, I thought it felt a little too fake though, all the shops seemed to sell the same items and push sales, typical of a tourist trap. Chinese tourists packed every alleyway, massive SLR cameras hanging off them. The first time I walked the old town I became hopelessly lost. With so many alleyways, and random twists and turns, it took a good two hours to find my way back to the guesthouse. It was a good walk nonetheless. By night the old town was beautifully lit up with traditional Chinese lanterns up and down all the streets.
The following day I hired a bicycle
and headed out of the town towards another town known as Baisha. It was easy enough to arrive there, and once I arrived there I discovered a place. I noticed it from the various newspaper articles on the outside. An old man appeared at the door and ushered me inside. I learned his name was Dr. Ho, a herbologist of eighty-seven years. When he was younger he got very sick and almost died because of some strange illness. No one could help him so the doctor went into the mountains and collected different plants and studied them. Eventually he created some medicine from them and cured himself. From then on he devoted his life to the study of alternative medicine. Whether I believe any of this remains to be seen, although I did mention to him that my stomach had been feeling odd for the last few weeks. He headed to the back and prepared some crushed herbs for me, claiming they were sure to help. He said I could give whatever I wanted for it. When I later tried it in a tea, it tasted quite horrible. I'm not sure I want to travel with the herbs as it
looks like a massive bag of illegal drugs!
Continuing on I biked towards a snow mountain, then went offroad on a dirt track for a while. I reconnected with the main road back and came upon a interesting man made lake, walked its entirety. Next I checked out a place called the Black Dragon Pool, somehow I got in without paying, didn't stay too long though but it was a nice piece of nature amidst the tourists. Getting back, I dumped the bike and then checked out more of the old town on foot. Yet again I got lost but discovered a supermarket where I picked up some supplies for a long journey I had the following day. More old town as I lugged my bag of supplies around and I made it back right on time for Mama's traditional Chinese dinner. Gread food in communal fashion but of course I overate and didn't feel like moving for a while. I just wrote for the rest of the night and later went out to get some Yak yogurt which tastes awesome. I'm going to miss that most from this place I think.
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