Lijiang Travel Blog› entry 11 of 11 › view all entries
I think I am running out of adjectives. Just when I think I have seen it all, China surprises me with a town like Lijiang. After a short uneventful stopover in Kunming, we've booked a room in Lijiang's "Old Town" which is completely closed to everything but pedestrian traffic. Despite the fact that most of the centuries-old homes have been converted to shops and restaurants, the charm and beauty still shine through and a snapshot of what must have been is not hard to imagine. Narrow canals steadily channel water from the nearby river to feed the soul of the village while stone walkways and bridges follow along side and lead through the maze-like steps and terraces up the hillside.
At night, Lijiang is anything but a sleepy mountain village. The local "Bar Street" is the liveliest I've seen so far (it seems that ever city has one). The Old Town at night is an impossible picture to paint with words. From the central square the view is something that rivals the imagination of Walt Disney. The clay tiled rooftops of each of the ancient homes is illuminated from below created a definition of light and shadows like a glowing mile-wide staircase. Adding to the experience is the fact that we are here during Chinese National Holiday and many of the locals are dressed in traditional outfits as they fill the narrow pathways around Bar Street singing songs and cheering out to others from balconies across the canals. In turn, the cheers are repeated and returned. The only thing I can think to compare it to is a high school basketball game where rival fans try to outcheer one another with "We've got spirit, yes we do, we've got spirit how bout you?!"
We had arrived in Yangshuo just after sunset and the Venice-like "streets" had us dizzily spinning in circles looking for out hotel.
On our third day, Michelle took us on a trip north to higher altitudes to visit Tiger Leaping Gorge - a natural wonder created over several thousand years by steep mountain cliffs tightening around the steady flow of the famous Yangzi River and squeezing it's banks until a deluge of rapids cascade over huge bolders. The 5 mile hike into the gorge was dotted with scenic waterfalls and tunnels cut into the mountain. The same excursion brought us through the winding mountain roads to the ancient Naxi village of Baisha where we were promised a glimpse of what Lijiang was like before Unesco christened it a World Heritage site and tourism took over.