Monday, August 15, 2011

Lijiang Part 1

Our flight arrived in Kunming around 4pm on Weds, August 3rd, and we promptly learned all the trains to Lijiang (pronounced "lee jee-ahng") were sold out for the week. Using adventure and magic, I was able to secure us three beds on an overnight sleeper bus to Lijiang. These buses are pretty impressive: three rows of bunk beds, sleeping about 40 people per bus. There's barely enough room to stretch out your legs completely and no room to move around, but it's comfortable enough for one night. Papa Reitz might say it's almost comfortable enough for one night. Once was enough for him, but we all managed to get a full night of sleep anyway.

We arrived in Lijiang at 5:45 am on Thursday the 4th. I dropped the rents off at the 24hr KFC and left in search of a hotel. I found one relatively quickly and returned to escort them down the deserted cobblestone streets.

Lijiang, a UNESCO Hertitage Site, is a beautiful city. Breathtaking, one might say. It is utterly fantastic at every corner. Clean, meandering alleys, countless rivers, rich with history and local culture, packed with shops and restaurants, Lijiang embodies the beauty of China's ancient cities. It is blessed, like most of Yunnan, with mild weather year-round. However, it is also plagued with tourists. At 9 am, the tour buses roll in and the streets, calm only an hour before, become overwhelmed, and remain that way past midnight.

But at 7am, after moving into our hotel, we had a wonderful opportunity to explore the city's many streams, bridges, and markets before the mob arrived.

We wandered off the normal tourist path and found Lijiang's open-air market, where the locals go to buy food and goods for their own use. Here we spent an hour or so watching and interacting with the Naxi ethnic group (one of 56 officially recognized by China), native to this area.

These first four pictures below are: on the left, a picture of me, and on the right, the picture i was taking. Thanks mom for the two on the left!

Some sweet old Naxi ladies. Also: Mangos.

We found the Naxi written language fascinating. The tourist literature i read said it was last culture in the world to still use a pictographic language, and although i haven't been able to confirm that, it's still cool. Below is an advertisement for restaurant, can you match the Naxi on the top to the English on the bottom? (hint: JianShui is a city in Yunnan, whose name means something like Constructed by Water.)

As i said before, Yunnan is blessed with wonderful weather most of the year, but August is the rainy season. This was the forecast for every day:

We were lucky enough to only encounter two days of rain, the first was in Hangzhou, which isn't even in Yunnan, and the second was in Lijiang. We were already out walking around Black Dragon Pool when the rain came, but we had umbrellas and it was a calm, gentle rain. We just kept on walking. Some of the Chinese tourists braved it like us and enjoyed the small crowds, others sought shelter.

And a quick check on Dad... day nine of the beardpocalypse:

That takes us through two days of Lijiang. Next up... Lijiang Part 2: Lijiang by Night and The Return of Esther.



Anonymous said...

very nice! cute the last picture :)

Anonymous said...

Looks beautiful! Rents look like they're loving it :)

kevinreitz said...

thanks anonymouses! ...anonymice?