Day 14 - Monday, April 23, 2012 - Drive to Lijiang; Visit Xizhou; See the Old Town Lijiang and Ming Dynasty City and the Canals
We woke up to sunny skies and the air was very fresh from the rain the night before. The temperature was 67° and the humidity was 44%. We had breakfast and then used our remaining 45 minutes to explore Old Dali.
The shops were just beginning to open and the street cleaners were picking up all of the trash. The old walled city is pretty much gone, only the four entry gates remain. Many of the Bai vendors were in their traditional costumes but they were reluctant to have their photos taken.
When we got back to the room we took our bags to the van where Tashi and Pang Ga were waiting for us. We were on the road by 9:15 and just a few miles later we made a stop to take pictures of the Three Santa Pagodas.
The pagodas are very sacred and having been built in the early 800’s are a must see for Chinese tourists. It was not on our itinerary, but when we saw about 35 tour busses already in the parking area we were happy to see it from afar.
We got off of the Kun Expressway and drove on a very narrow two lane road that was almost bumper to bumper with tourist busses, gravel trucks, and farm tractors. The road is part of the ancient Tea Horse Trail from 2000 years ago. Tea was transported and traded and the tea was worth its weight in gold because of the prestige of the quality.
The Silk Road also runs through this trading route crisscrossing Eurasia. Transporters and traders have had a very important role in the development of this area.
Our morning stop was in Xizhou to see the old mansions of the tea traders. The streets are so narrow when we came into town; Tashi had to move a bicycle so we could pass.
We were scheduled to take a city tour on a horse cart and as we traveled the streets we noticed people spreading dried plants on the roads. Tashi explained they were broad beans that have a very difficult pod to crack. The cars and horse carts drive over the pods breaking them open and the farmers rake away the stalks and pick up the beans.
Our tour took us to Lake Erhai and a Bai Temple. The Bai people have their own religion and worship the nature god Ben Zhu. A caretaker at the temple was very adamant that we were not to disturb the temple, but Tashi and our carriage driver seemed to make things right.
At the end of our tour we came to the market and then drove to our lunch on the outskirts of the city. We had another selection of new veggies, sausage, and chicken livers. Being the good travelers that we are, we tried a little of everything.
We arrived in Lijiang, and went to our hotel in the old town. Our hotel is “cozy” with small but delightful rooms. The hotel has a good wifi system which means a lot to us for posting the journal and researching our surroundings.
It did not take long to settle in and then we started exploring the Old City. This ancient trading city is now one of the top tourist attractions for Chinese citizens. We walked over the bridges, spanning the many canals and worked our way through the crowds who like us were here to see the unique shops and Ming Dynasty setting.
We found an ATM to get more Yuan and then mingled with the charming Chinese tourists who were really enjoying their day in Lijiang. There is an 80 Yuan tax on tourists which is being used to restore the city after the 1996 earthquake.
After buying stamps, post cards, and a few other items, we came back to the room at 5:00. There was a very pleasant breeze with 75° and 25% humidity. There is no AC in our room, but at 7824 feet and with this dry air, we should be fine with our window open.
Vic went back out to take a photo of Jade Dragon Mountain which is snow covered all year long and is 18,360 feet at the peak. The shots were not clear as there was a little haze in the air, but enough to have an idea of the majesty of the mountain.
Tashi and Pang Ga met us at our hotel lobby at 7:00 to go for a short stroll to the restaurant for dinner. We ate at Lamu’s House of Tibet and had one of the best meals we have had so far in China.
We met several of Tashi and Pang Ga’s friends and fellow tour directors. After our dinner we walked around the Old Town to see the lights and the young people doing street dancing.
The walkways were packed and cameras were flashing everywhere. The shops were all full and people were actually walking out with packages. When we hear that China has a strong economy it is true – people are spending money and business is booming!
By 9:00 we made our way back to the hotel to finish writing the journal and choosing photos for the day.
Accommodations: Zen Garden Hotel - - - Meal: B, L, D
Please see our Trip Evaluation -- Click Here -- A Complete Review of Myths and Mountains -- From Vietnam to China: Ethnic People of the Border -- China with Tashi Lamasang
I don't think Americans have the same sense of time as people in China or Europe. To us, 1776 is a long time ago! I remember when we swapped homes with a family from England, they remarked to us how exciting it must be to live at the beginning of your country's history!
Keeping up with your fabulous trip daily, loving visiting Vietnam and China with you vicariously. Love your research presentations and photos...A+! On our way back to Kodiak soon...a flt. diversion into ANC from China can get you to the Krab Festival on time...see you?
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