Following the sound of drums in the streets of Lijiang...

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Asia » China » Yunnan » Lijiang
May 14th 2013
Published: June 1st 2013
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I got to Lijiang in the early afternoon, which was just perfect as had almost the whole day to explore still! The Chinese guy who joined me on a bike on the way to Caicun the previous day told me if I liked Dali, I was going to like Lijiang even more. As promising as it sounded I wasn’t totally convinced but have to say that he was absolutely right! What a charming place – narrow cobblestoned streets, beautiful wooden finished buildings, bridges and canals all around, absolutely beautiful! Jade River splits into three streams here which flow along the streets of the old town and apparently some people go as far to call Lijiang ‘Chinese Venice’… There would have to be a few more canals to be called that I’d say, but there is something about it for sure… Again, just like in Dali, lots of shops around but here they seemed to be a bit more specialised and arts (still a few places here and there with some tacky stuff, but much less comparing to Dali)… Drums seemed to be the most popular here as there were many shops selling them all around, and what’s more most of them were playing the same song all around and whoever was working in these shops was playing the drum accompanying the sounds of the song… I got to love this song actually – still need to find out who sings it, but I’ll find a way! J Beside that you can see lots of women dressed up in traditional Naxi clothes all around but also quite a few girls in some other traditional costumes doing photo-shoots with professional photographers. Also you can find lovely restaurants here and there with live music – actually some of them didn’t have live music, the music was coming to them anyway though… There was one guy with a guitar walking from one place to the other playing and singing (pretty loud as he seemed to be carrying an amplifier with him as well), trying to earn a few coins… It was funny to see some people requesting songs from him and then stealing his mike and singing on their own! Only in China… 😉

You can easily spend a few days here doing nothing really – there is such a lovely atmosphere in this town that all you could do here is just wander around the streets, sip tea or coffee in the little cafes or try some local dishes in one of the charming places either siting by the canals or looking out at the rooftops from one of many restaurants set on the hill. I especially enjoyed sitting at the squares and observing people around me. And there was surely lots going on around! Lots of Naxi women, either sitting around and chatting or… dancing! All of them very friendly with big smiles on their faces, they were inviting everyone to join them to dance as well! Then there were all these people who were trying to squeeze some money out of all the tourists… by any means – taking photos of you with hawks, offering pony rides, posing for photos in traditional costumes… When I was walking to the Black Dragon Pool I even saw a guy standing with a monkey tied to a pole dressed up in some tight ridiculous clothes, I say he should’ve been tied and dressed up instead of the monkey, that would’ve been way more entertaining! 😉 Apparently the view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain from the Black Dragon Pool is meant to be one of the nicest views in China, well maybe it is when there is water in the pool! When I was there the pool was totally dried up unfortunately, the view of the mountain was still pretty impressive but it must be even more so outside of the dry season…

As much as I loved Lijiang there were lots of places around worth a visit as well… Since my time here was very limited I only had time for one side trip and decided to head to Baisha. They say the best way to get there is to rent a bike as it’s only 12km away from Lijiang and you have nice views of the mountains along the way. Since my butt and legs were still sore from biking around Dali and I was planning to do Tiger Leaping Gorge the next day I thought it was probably best not to push it and just took a local bus to Baisha instead – cheap and easy, that’s what I like! 😉 What a difference to Lijiang – almost no tourists around, actually very few people around in general, just peace and quiet… I went to the Baisha Naxi Embroidery Institute first but there was nobody inside at all (not sure if they were having lunch or what?) so had a quick look at the students’ masterpieces and left as felt as if I was trespassing actually (the main door was wide open though…). Then just turned in one of the streets and while walking a bit I saw a woman dressed in a traditional Naxi costume and an older guy chatting to her, just loved his long thin beard and thought for a moment that he actually looked quite familiar… As I got closer I realised that it was famous dr Ho himself! Was wondering if I’ll be able to find his place, well… there it was! Straight away went to say hello to him. What a lovely person! He showed me all the articles from Polish magazines about him and all the notes Polish visitors left for him, then he walked me around his working area and we chatted about his achievements – looks like he’s particularly proud of curing one American gut from leukaemia using his herbs only (he got quite a bit of interest from the Americans after that incident). Then he just looked at me and said that I looked very healthy and happy and just wished me all the best on my life journey. Well… thank you doctor Ho, really appreciated it! It was time to go as other visitors were waiting for the chance to meet the famous doctor. It surely was an incredible encounter…

I had a really lovely time in Lijiang and I’m sure I’ll be back here someday, but it was time to head further… Next stop: Tiger Leaping Gorge!

Additional photos below
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hmmm... time for food!hmmm... time for food!
hmmm... time for food!

pretty good choice I guess :)

2nd June 2013

Food glorious food
Loving the food pictures, always interesting seeing what's on the local menu. All looks delicious!
3rd June 2013

Thanks guys! Always like seeing food pictures as it's a big part of any country's culture after all, so thought I might add a few as well! Regards!
3rd June 2013

Lovely Lijiang!
We really liked Lijiang as well, there was just something about those lovely little cobbled winding streets! The food was good there, we never made it to Baisha or the Black Dragon pool which is a shame as your photos from there are great. Hope you enjoyed Tiger Leaping Gorge!
3rd June 2013

Thanks guys! Even though Lijiang is very commercial and full of tourists, there is just something there about this town... Loved the atmosphere! Regards :)
3rd June 2013

Thanks guys! Even though Lijiang is very commercial and full of tourists, there is just something there about this town... Loved the atmosphere! Regards :)

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