Lijiang, Yunnan, China

[ 0 ] September 22, 2012 |

Sometimes a place deserves a second chance to win you over, certainly a country as large as China deserves a segmented review. Overall my first impressions were pretty hasty and harsh, but with a second look I realized China offers much more than meets the eye.

From a tourist perspective, China doesn’t need you. This means they don’t cater to outsiders, in any way. Having spent the past 4 months in parts of Asia where many cities survive from tourism and service industries, Chinese culture was a shift. With 1.3 billion people little time is taken for overt respect and service. Buck up and fend for yourself travelers. Once we flipped that switch in our brains- we found many things to appreciate about China.

Our first stop was Kunming, a nondescript hub city we simply used to transfer to other parts of the region. After another overnight sleeper bus ride we arrived in Lijiang, Yunnan, China.

At this point, Pat had managed to sprain his ankle pretty well and I was suffering from the beginning of a mild case of altitude sickness… needless to say we were rather frustrated with ourselves- what was happening? Had we totally lost our travel mojo? Determined to get in a better groove we decided to tackle the next week hitting the highlights of several cities in the region.

Lijiang Old Town is a maze of cobblestone streets, waterways and bridges open only to pedestrians and the occasional horse and cart. This ancient Chinese city still exists in a pure form allowing traditional life to flow. The Nakhi people, an ethnic minority, are still the residents of the community.

Lijiang Old Town, Yunnan, China

Waterways and Bridges, Old Town Lijiang

Streets of Old Town Lijiang

Rather than traditional doors, the home and storefront entrances lining the alleyways are made of panels of wood creating solid surfaces. Each day these panels are removed to open shop and later replaced to close up.  The window and door panels are decorated with elaborate carvings.

Panel Entrances to Buildings

Lijiang Old Town Street

Tea culture is very significant in China. The Yunnan Province is specifically famous for growing Pu’er Tea. This is a post-fermented tea. The tealeaves undergo a fermentation process after they are dried and rolled. The tea is sold in dried disks of various sizes. The older the tea is, the better and more expensive it is. When making the tea you break off a few grams of the dried leaves to steep. When drinking this variety, we were instructed to “chew” the tea in our mouths.  To my taste buds it almost seemed creamy and thick. It is a Chinese black tea (completely different than western black tea.) In Lijiang there were many beautiful teashops selling Pu’er Tea. With a history of more than 800 years, Lijiang has long been a place for trade along the old tea horse road.

Pu’er Tea

Drinking Tea in Lijiang

A short walk north of Old Town is Black Dragon Pool. This ancient pond was built during the Qing Dynasty in 1737.  Positioned in Jade Spring Park, from the famous white marble bridge you can see views of the region’s tallest mountain, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The park also includes several small temples and pavilions in traditional architecture styles.

Marble Bridge of Black Dragon Pool

Temple at Black Dragon Pool

Jade Spring Park




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Category: Alison's Blog, Blog, China, Destinations, Featured Posts

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