Lijiang China

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July 5th 2010
Published: October 27th 2010
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5/7/10: We bought two bus tickets from a travel agent in Dali to Lijiang for 80yuan. The mini bus unsurprisingly turned up on time and we were in for a 3.5hrs bus trip to Lijiang. The bus was fine but we couldn't get away from the smoking passengers, there was one young guy that lit a cigarette every 10-15min which then encouraged all the other smokers to light up. It pissed us off because there was a no smoking sign on the wall but no one took any notice. So almost four hours later we arrived in Lijiang with a tight chest and ash all over our stinking clothes. We were dropped off at the bus station and left to find out way to Lijiang. Once we actually found which station we were in, we walked some 300m to another bus stop and waited for the number three bus that never ended up arriving. We successfully hailed a taxi that made short work of our position. We were dropped off on the outskirts of the Old Town and had a well deserved noodle soup for lunch. I left Jacinta with the bags and found a guest house for 50yuan, it was a mission trying to communicate that I wanted a double room; body language takes on a whole new importance when you can’t speak the language and of course it doesn’t help when you forget the phrase book. The phrase book was God at the moment; I’m not sure how we could get by without it. The room was clean and small, the best part was it had the softest bed we have had in a long time. I was looking forward to rolling up under the covers with Jacinta for a great sleep. After a great dumpling dinner, 20yuan for 40 steamed pork and chive dumplings, we settled in our warm bed to watch a recently downloaded movie and asleep by 11:00pm. Our sleep was broken by some drunken Chinese tourist that arrived back at our hotel around 1:00am in the morning, they spoke at the top of their lungs; it was like being back in India, needless to say we couldn't get back to sleep, the same thing happen again in the early morning hours with another group leaving for their bus. I’m glad we only paid for one night.
6/7/10: We went for a walk to the old quarter of Lijiang and found another guesthouse for 70yuan, this time it had wifi and it looked quiet. We rushed back to get our packs and checked into a room double the size of the previous room. We went for a walk through the old ancient town of Lijiang. There were alleyways leading in every direction. It was incredibly touristy but we liked the atmosphere and the architecture. The Ancient Lijiang City has a history of 800 or 900 years, it began in the Southern Song Dynasty. The Ancient Lijiang City was named Dayanxian County in Ming Dynasty. The Lijiangba Dam is surrounded by green mountains and a river that runs through the forest. Naxi Nationality began to attract the cultural attention in 1921. A 7 magnitude earthquake hit in Lijiang on 24 February 1996, and more than 5,000 people died. The earthquake put Lijiang on the world map with its unique landscape and culture. Lijiang began to catch the attention of the world and has been growing tourism ever since. We were so unprepared for walking Lijiang, I had no map and I left my compass back in the room. We weaved in and out of the shops and alleyways until the tourisst thinned out leaving only the occasional elderly local and before long we were the only ones; we were lost. It took several locals and 30mins to find our way back to heart of Old Lijiang. Even then, the only way we found our way back was with a map that we desperately purchased from a shop owner whilst asking directions. With relief we made it back to our guest house making sure we had our map and compass on us the whole time.
7/7/10-10/7/10: The next few days were spent chilling out. We were feeling very tired and lethargic, we couldn't be bothered doing anything. We were relieved when we spoke to another traveller and he said we had travellers fatigue, as soon as he said it we knew straight away that's what we have; we thought we were getting lazy The food in Lijiang was great and we were slowly becoming addicted to the dumplings. They were great to have in to morning and we often had noodle soup for lunch and dinner. We both had some really bad meals that turned us off Chinese for a couple of days. It was mainly due to the overloaded Mono Sodium glutamate (MSG). We had some kebabs from a local restaurant; we were able to choose from a massive selection of vegetables, fish, squid, prawns, chicken, pork and beef, there were also the lesser favourites which included blood sausage, liver, brain, frogs, snails and other unknown local delicacies. When the chef showed us what looked to be a chilly spice we happily accepted but it turned out to be MSG in disguise. Our food was so over spiced and flavoured that we couldn’t taste what was chicken or pork. It was that bad that our tongue and lips started to tingle and go numb; it spoiled a potentially great meal. There was no MSG in any of our market food so we shopped there as much as we could. Another great meal is Chinese momos or meat filled dumplings. We found a restaurant that makes the best pork and chive steamed dumplings, 40 (one pound) for 20yuan or $4AUS, the worse part about dumplings were they are so slippery that the occasional dumpling let loose from the grip of our chopsticks splashing into our soy sauce making an awful mess.
The rest of the time we spent walking around town taking in the scenes. We hiked up to Lion hill and payed 15yuan to gain entry. The hill was covered with cypress trees that cover 90% of the 15 hectare sight. There was a great view from the top of the main building called Wangu. This is the best pure wood building in the world. It has the longest continuous structural post of any building in China at 33m long. At the top was an impressive 360 degree view showing the old and new towns of Lijiang. We understood how we got lost when we looked at the birds nest of alleyways below. One our main goals was to get to the markets, with previous attempt failing miserably due to distraction or just getting lost we now had a clear view of the markets from up high giving us some a compass bearing and some landmarks to follow. We still somehow managed to get lost and reappeared at the markets edge. We only planed to get some yummy lychees and fresh tomatoes, when we gazed over the massive array of fresh produce we were suddenly desperate for some fresh fruit and vegetables. We got so carried away we walked away with tomatoes, lychees, bananas, fresh bread, peanuts, peaches, grapes, mango’s, onions and topped it all off with a hot roasted duck. We were salivating, we couldn't wait to get back to our room where we made a sandwich with tomato, onion, mayo and hot roast duck on fresh bread, and it was so nice.
We intended on walking to the Black Dragon Pool gardens just north of town, we balked at the price of 80yuan each; instead we walked around the gardens hoping to get a glimpse to see if it was all worth it. At the very far north of the gardens we met a lone Canadian traveller named Coen. We must have talked for an hour before agreeing to go to a traditional Naxi village a 10km bike ride to the very outskirts of town the next day. With the weather closing in we agreed to meet at the water wheel for a big day on the bikes at ten the next morning.
11/7/10: Both agreeing to sleep in we headed out of town around 10:00. It was a very shallow climb the whole way up to the villages at the base of some large mountains. To Jacinta and me the villages were very uninteresting and boring, the culture felt fake as with everything in China. We rode through other villages just to get away from other tourist ending up at a small cemetery at the foot of some large hills. A trail leading up the hill left us all wondering if the view was worth the climb. Coen, Jacinta and I locked the bikes to a tree and trekked up several hills until we found a clearing that gave us 180 views of Lijiang and the surrounding green valley. We were at an altitude of 2700m, the highest Coen had been. Coen recently put in for a job as a policy writer and was short listed, he offered an income lower than what he thought he was worth and decided that he would not take the job instead choosing to travel longer until the right job came to his being. He had mixed emotions about the job until he climbed the hill and gazed over the valley. Perched on a rock he made his decision there and then, a defining moment in his life, to become a free man, ready to jump into the world with a new set of wings. After that he was a different person, and for the rest of the day felt so free; good on him I reckon.
12/7/10: Today was spent trying to unsuccessfully get a virus out of my laptop.

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28th October 2010

china looks better than india
china looks better than india
8th November 2010

Very different
It is almost impossible to compare these two countries. I think with all the frustrations and hassle, India is still my most favorite and most amazing place to travel. They say that you don't actually feel this until you have left India, for some that can be longer than others but for me I feel I'm ready to give it another shot; my wife will need another couple of years though.

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