If we rewind the story briefly and revisit Thursday, we'll find a bit i left out from part 1. The bit in question is a rather quick exchange of text messages between esther and i, discussing how awesome Lijiang was, and how she should just ask her boss for the next 7 days off work to join us. She replied with something like, "I have a meeting with my boss this afternoon, I'll ask him."
Esther, i learned from our thunderstorm experience in Hangzhou, is someone to be taken seriously.
Later that day, she bought a plane ticket. She flew 3 hours to Kunming on Friday, took the 10 hour sleeper bus to Lijiang, and caught up to us about 40 hours after making the decision... and 15 of those hours were spent traveling by one medium or another. Esther wins the award for Most Spontaneous.
While sleeping late was not one of them, meeting esther at the gate to Lijiang's old city at 6am had its benefits, most notably, another chance to tour the city before the tourists arrive. Esther and i made a lap of the whole city in about 2 hours, snapping hundreds of pictures in the process.
For the first two nights in Lijiang, i had been sleeping on the couch in my parents room at the Lijiang International Youth Hostel. It was a nice room, private terrace, western bathroom, second floor with a decent view. It was one of the nicer rooms they had, and it suited three people fine, as long as one of them didn't mind the couch. But the whole time, i longed to check out their "Mountain View" suite, on the third floor. In our minds, it loomed above our terrace like a mansion eclipsing the villa next door.
It was only about $10 more, but it was also booked every night. When i learned esther was definitely coming, i inquired again about the room. While it was still occupied at the time, i learned the tenants had shortened their stay and were leaving Saturday, and therefore available for one night... the only night i would need it.
The stars aligned and with luck on my side, esther and i moved into the penthouse suite for her one night in Lijiang. It was beautiful, with an outdoor patio, a tea room, one of those futuristic shower capsules, and an amazing bed. First picture below is the view down to the rents' place, whose terrace doubled as a drying rack for the hostel.
Lijiang by day is a wonder, but it turns into a fairyland at night. Lanterns fill the alley's, gates and towers are illuminated, the city is afire with life. And tourists, of course.
We enjoyed a relaxing dinner next to a river, and tried to stealthily observe the passing mob. However, being the gloriously attractive and interesting foreigners that we are, we inevitably became the focus of tourist cameras. Also: i made a cat friend, fed him chicken, and named him Little Yellow Tiger.
One tradition in Lijiang is to float these flower-shaped candle rafts down the river along with your wish. I bought a pair for esther and mom, so they could wish for each other's wishes to come true. Both wishes came true infinite times.
Another tradition is to sit in your amazing penthouse suite and gaze upon the city below.