Lijiang

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Where I stayed
Banyan Tree Lijiang
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Lijiang Grand Hotel
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Saturday, December 18, 2010

18/December, Saturday

That day we had to wake up at 4:45 a.m. to catch a flight from Kunming to Lijiang at 7:10 a.m.. The taxi that we had ordered in advanced last night arrived just on time at 5:30 a.m.. Twenty minutes of ride, we arrived at the airport. The taxi fee was $50RMB, including $20RMB of advance ordering.

The flight from Kunming to Lijiang it takes about 50 minutes. The altitude of Lijaing is something about 2400 meters above sea level. The weather in Lijiang is cold in the early morning and night but quite hot during other times when the sun has risen.

We took a taxi to Banyan Tree Resort, about 36 km away from the airport, and it took about an hour to arrive at the destination. During the hour of ride, the taxi driver suggested us some places to visit in Lijiang. One of them was the Tea Horse Ancient Road. It  was one of the famous trade routes in China during the past. The taxi driver was so friendly and constantly said to offer us ride to the visit spot we wish to go. At the end of the ride, he gave us his contact number. We left his car, shook his hand and approached to the main door of the resort. Taxi fee was $110RMB, including $10RMB high way fee.

We stayed at Banyan Tree Resort for 2 nights. I liked its quiet environment and its beautiful scenic. The magnificent view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain at behind was just awesome! No words could express my feelings towards the view I enjoyed.

After checking-in, we walked around the surrounding area of the resort. About 15 minutes of walk, we came to a town - Shuhe Town.

Shuhe Town was once a staging post at Tea and Horse Ancient Road. Also, it was the earliest settlement of Naxi people in Lijiang when their ancestors first moved to this region. I like the atmosphere here in Shuhe Town, comparing with Lijiang Dayan Old City, cause here is less touristy and it gives me an impression of more originality.

In Shuhe Town, there is a museum about the Tea and Horse Ancient Road. It is free to visit and also, they have free guide to explain all the details in the museum. It is worth a visit.

The best place to have a panoramic view of the town is to walk further up the hill. Be careful of the dogs there. If you keep quiet, they won't bring you any trouble Otherwise, they will call up their brothers and sisters to stop you from moving up further. They did scared me. I didn't dare to walk further up because they barked loudly at me. When they barked, sheeps also came out of nowhere freaking me out.


19/December, Sunday

15 minutes of taxi ride, $25RMB, we arrived to Dayan Ancient City. Many tourists and locals were there. It was not easy to take a photograph without people walking in front of the camera.

Lijiang Old City, also known as Dayan Ancient Town, is the only old city built without a city wall. It is a place full of Dongba culture, it is the place of the Naxi People. You can find many dongba script in many places in the old city. It is said that the Naxi language belongs to the Chinese-Tibetan language family. More than 1,000 years ago, the Naxi people had already created pictographic characters called the "Dongba" script and a syllabic writing known as the "Geba" script. Those are incredible culture and you can also find many words guessing game on the wall.

There is a song written for Lijiang. People often play It all around the old city. We followed the main path from the entrance, the path leaded us to the famous Four Square Street. In Lijiang Old City you can find men with eagle on their shoulders or hands, Naxi women washing food on the water and some horsemen riding their horses slowly on the street. The scenic was just awesome and it made me feel like I was kind of traveling back in time.

During the visit in the old city, we went to the Lion Hill Park and the Wangu Tower. Wangu Tower (万古楼) is located on the top of the Lion Hill, it is a landmark building in the old city of Lijiang. The tower has 5 stories and 5 tiers with a height of 33 meters. The top story has 13 angles, representing the 13 peaks of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountains. Also, the paintings inside the tower represent the harmony and unity of the 23 ethnic groups living in Lijiang. From the top story, you can have a panoramic view of the whole old city. The admission fee is $15RMB.


20/December, Monday

That day we had David to be our driver to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. David is very nice and friendly, he showed us where the dry sea is along the ride and had stopped the car for us to take pictures. It took only about an hour, we arrived at the entrance of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Park. David handed us the tickets to get inside the performance hall to watch Impression Lijiang.

Impression Lijiang is an amazing show that no one should ever skip it when traveling to Lijiang. The three great directors of the performance are Zhang Yimou (張藝謀), Wang Chaoge and Fan Yue. Performed by over 500 actors from 10 ethnic groups. It is also known as the highest natural performance field in the world at 3100 meters above sea level.

The performance is composed with 6 themes.

The first theme is about The Tea and Horse Ancient Road. In the story there are some stories about the Naxi People. They mentioned: "The customs of Naxi Nationality says that husbands should not be burdened with the household trifles, on the contrast, women should do housework, farm in the fields, bring children and be proud of hardworking. They even should be shamed by letting men put hand into housework. From the view of Naxi women, it is the honor of the wives and children that their men could have knowledge, make friends during the travel, accomplish the achievement. The Basket Dance embodies Naxi women the great maternal emotion of working hard regardless of criticism."

The second theme is about facing the Snow Mountain while drinking. They mentioned: "People from majority nationalities can drink inborn, just like they can sing and dance inborn. So the drinker's wager game brings them songs and dances in colorfulness. They drink when they are happy; they drink when they are sad. These ardent men living on the foot of the mountain have wild lofty sentiments as well as the childish happiness. The drinker's wager game of each nationality and the Naxi clapper talk embodies the passion to friends from people on the foot of majority nationalities and their sanguine and optimism to the life."

The third theme is about human world in the heaven. They mentioned: "What you are facing now is the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. It is just the twelve happy mountains that the Naxi peple give great worships; It is just the mountain that many lovers have chosen for dying for love. Here flowers spring up all over the place; Here is no pain and trouble; Here white deer could be ridden, red tiger could be as farmer cattle. Wild cocks crow the daybreak; Foxes hunt as hound. Here the lovers could make friends freely without passing the youth and experiencing the human's sadnes..."

The fourth theme is about singing and dancing. They mentioned: "The Naxi people  like to dance A LI LI, DA LAO LI, the Pumi nationality like to dance HAN BAI DANCE, the Zang nationality prefer to dance GUO ZHUANG and so forth. They enjoy themselves by dancing and singing, making friends freely between men and women freely."

The 5th theme is about that Naxi People are the sons of the heaven and are the brothers of the nature.

Finally, the 6th theme of the performance is about Blessing Ceremony.

After watching the stunning show, David took us to ride the cable car. There are 3 cable car lines in the snow mountain. We chose the popular one to the top of the snow mountain. The cable ride takes about 20 minutes to reach to the top, from sea level 3356 meters to sea level 4506 meters. Some people may feel a little bit sick in high altitude. There are oxygen tanks before departing to the cable car, $60RMB to $70RMB per tank. Also, there are warm clothes for rent.

The snow mountain is just awesome! The view provided there is just spectacular. I'm so happy that I can reach to a place with 4506 meters high above sea level. It is a joyful moment in my life.

We had skip our lunch cause no restaurant was found along the way. When we met David again in the main entrance of the cable car, he led us to eat noodles. After noodles, David led us to the waiting area to go to the next spot - Blue Moon Valley and the Mirror Lake. 

Blue Moon Valley, also known as Baishuihe or Whitewaters River. The water is extremely clean as it is filtrated and purified by gravel and stones when running, and hasn't been polluted at all. The waters running from the melted ice on the top of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain flow down the slopes and form waterfalls at the cliffs and brooks at the fords. The atmosphere there is spiritual. The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is just lying on the top of the rivers, giving off an impression a guardian angel of the whole area. It is just amazing!

When visiting the Blue Moon Valley, you will also be guided to visit the Mirror Lake. Remember that you have to get the tickets after getting off the Blue Moon Valley bus, and before getting in the green electric cars (ticket is $40RMB per person), they won't allow you to get in the car without the tickets and you will be wasting time for waiting another green cars. If you visit the place late, be prepared to ask for the time of the last green car or tour bus to take you back to the main entrance if you want to avoid trouble. :)


21/December, Tuesday

We visited Black Dragon Pool (黑龍潭) that day. If you had bought the ticket of the Old Town Maintenance fee (the ticket with your name written on it) you are allowed to enter the Black Dragon Pool freely. Black Dragon Pool Park is huge, can be spend the whole morning in it.

This site was built in 1737 during the Qing Dynasty, and the name of the Black Dragon Pool was named after a legend stating that there was a black dragon living under the pool in ancient times. In the park, there are two great building complexes, one is the Longguan Temple (Dragon God Temple), and the other one is the Black Dragon Palace.

In the afternoon, we continued to explore the Old Town. I think Lijiang has the best preserved ancient town in China. The traditional local lifestyle still can be seen in this area. You can see many women dressed in traditional customs working on the street. They wash food in the river, carry woods from the hill, light fire on the street to keep warm and they dance and sing happily in groups on the main street.

Around the old city / old town, some says it is a city but some insists it is a town, there are many beautiful surroundings to enjoy, and each and every angle of the street is a great capture spot for photography lovers. I love to walk along the path to the Lion Hill. The higher I climb, the greater view I get. There are many slopes to go up to the hill but not every one of them get to the same destination. If you don't want to spend time walking in circle when you have a tight time schedule, I would recommend everyone to get a map. It cost $6RMB and it sells from the shops on the streets.


22/December, Wednesday

That day we woke up at 5 a.m. and went straight on to Elephant Hill after breakfast at the hotel. It was dark outside and still I saw the moon and the stars above the sky. Lijiang people wake up very early. At the time we arrived to the Black Dragon Pool, many people had just finished their morning exercises.

The Elephant Hill with an elevation of 2704 meters is located within the park of the Black Dragon Pool. No admission fee was needed cause the tickets we had were valid for a week. The path to the top of the hill were only stone staircases, some with handrails and some without handrails. As we were climbing up, many locals were "running" down. I was amazed that they "run" up then "run" down the hill SINGING!!! All of them were like "Kung Fu" masters, their footsteps were fast and light, comparing with myself, they were like feathers and I was like a snail.  

It took us about two hours to get to the top of the hill. It was a tired and exhausted journey. It was like a never ending path. Every time I thought I had climbed all the stairs, there were more at the front waiting for me to climb. Be prepared to bring a bottle of water. You will need it as no bottle of water you can get along the path. I had thought of turning back and giving up climbing, but every time when I had that thought, I looked back and the beautiful picture in front of my eyes cheered me up to carry on. Clouds and mists were under my feet! :)

Finally, we arrived at the top of the hill. There was a small pagoda at the top of the hill where people can have a beautiful panoramic view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. It was really worth an effort.

If I remembered it well, there were three small pagodas for people to rest along the path. The last one was on top. Moreover, it was hot and sunny after 10:00 a.m., even during winter, and it took me almost two hours and half to complete the track (up and down), so if you want your journey to be a little bit pleasant, please consider going there earlier and bring yourself a bottle of water. During December, cold, dry and windy in the early morning; hot and sunny during the day. Enjoy!
 

23/December, Thursday

I didn't know what I ate last night that caused me diarrhea in that morning. I and K. ate the same thing but only me had the problem. :(

That day we went back to Kunming. I was not feeling well and I had stayed resting at the hotel in Kunming.


24/December, Friday

We flew back to Hong Kong from Kunming and then tiredly took the ferry back home to Macau.
End of the 8 days of journey.
Merry Christmas, everyone! :)

Here are the photos of the trip:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ristinw/sets/72157625668384300/

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Freddie on

Awesome trip!

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