Sunday, January 18, 2009
丽江 Lijiang Day One
After taking a 50 minute bus from the airport, we arrived in downtown Lijiang around 12pm. On the way to our reserved hotel we were approached by a young lady offering to help us with our luggage and stay at her hotel for a discounted price. The one suitcase we packed was a little heavy and impossible to use the wheel on the ancient cobblestones, so we agreed to let her help us. After checking in and resting a bit, we decided to go explore the town a little bit. It's amazing how much the people of Lijiang (and government probably) have preserved this beautiful little town. It's famous for being home to over 20 Chinese minorities, however the Naxi people are the main inhabitants of the region. The winding streets seem to go on forever with countless shops selling mainly yak products (bone combs, leather goods, preserved meat etc.), jade, woven goods, tea, and all kinds of small trinkets. I didn't want to buy much then, just some cheap sunglasses (the sun is amazingly bright ALL the time!). After wandering for a few hours we were hungry. In a place like this, it's not diffucult to find food, but difficult to decide what type of food. We settled on a Naxi style restaurant which specialized in what else...Yak! The food was delicious and gave us enough energy to head up the mountain to see a temple. The temple was very relaxing, especially after the hike up the mountain. We were met by a monk who asked to read my fortune. I felt in need for some spiritual enlightenment, so I spun the zodiac wheel and landed on the chicken...yum. He then ushered me to the English-speaking head monk inside the temple. After close examination of my face and hands he offered a glimpse to my future and gave me a small gift. 10rmb well spent. By then, night had fallen and the Lijiang seemed to wake up. The bar streets were pumping dance music and the locals were dressed in local garb inviting everyone to dance the night away. Unfortunately, with the mixture of travel weariness and altitude displacement, I wasn't quite ready to jump in to that. Maybe another night!