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Battling the National Week Crowds in Lijiang
Rating : (4.9 stars)

Lijiang, China
Oct 03, 2003 01:25

Pros: beautiful and picturesque, many places to visit
Cons: packed with locals (as it was Chinese National Day)

Chinese National Day is on October 1, and extends into a week of holidays and travelling for Chinese people. Lijiang in particular appeared to be a very popular destination for local tourists as it was packed with thousands of them crammed into the cafes, shops and narrow cobblestone streets. Unfortunately this turned out to be the time we were in Lijiang, and although it may have altered our impression of the town a little (like when the hotel prices more than doubled!) we still thought it was beautiful and picturesque.

There are countless alleys and winding streets to explore in Lijiang, with red lanterns adorning the shops, huge water wheels at the entrance of the old town and a great lookout with sweeping views of the old style rooftops. There were lots of Naxi people strolling around (the local minority people) in their blue clothing with yaks wool strapped to their backs to pad them from the baskets they wear.

One day we went to see the Black Dragon Pool, a crystal clear lake with huge fish visible, bridges, pagodas and views of the snowcapped Jade Dragon mountain (well, it was hidden behind clouds but we imagined what it looked like!). There was a natural spring in one part of the lake, and lots of Chinese people looking into the water and screaming at the top of their lungs!! We couldn't really work out what they were doing but guessed it was some kind of good luck thing, or maybe they were trying to raise the dragon from the pool?! It was funny to come across anyway!

We spent alot of time exploring the streets (and unfortunately for the boys, the shops!) and once again were the subject of a few snap happy Chinese tourists' photos. After a few days we ended up catching an overnight bus back to Kunming (so we can catch the train up to Chengdu) which was an experience in itself. We caught a sleeper bus - where the bus has three rows of bunk beds instead of seats. They are tiny and crammed, but better than sitting up I guess, except when we were on windy bumpy roads and we had to cling onto the bars of the beds so we didn't roll out into the aisle! We now have an 18 hour train ride to look forward to...!