Charming Old City

Trip Start May 04, 2011
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Trip End Oct 08, 2012


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Where I stayed
Panba Guesthouse Lijiang
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Friday, September 9, 2011

Tempted to stay longer in Dali, I knew I wanted to see a few more sights on my way north to Sichuan province. I even considered staying at a nearby monastery for a week of Tai Chi or Kung Fu practice but when I did the math, I realized that I wouldn't make it in and out of Chengdu before the National holiday on Oct. 1. Instead I caught a bus for Lijiang where I met Bill from Long Island. After a three hour bus ride and learning about Lijiang where he currently resides, he brought up religion and God and started in with some born again preaching.

With help from a girl on the mini bus we contacted Mama Naxi’s Guesthouse and waited for someone to guide me into the old town of Lijiang and through the labyrinth cobbled streets. The odd thing is Mama Naxi’s came highly recommended by several people I met going in the opposite direction with the exception of one girl I met in Guilin who raved about Panba Guesthouse. After two minutes at Mama Naxi’s I couldn’t comprehend why so many people raved about this place. Instead I found it to be dirty, dark, and smelly. For example I had to insist on changing the sheets after I found blood on them.

In my three-bed dorm was Kathrin who shared my sentiment about Mama Naxi’s especially after the incident that night. We arrived back at the hostel around midnight and as we were struggling to put the key in the door in the dark, to make matters worse, the night staff switched off the only gleam of light. That was the last straw for us, the next morning after Mama went on a tirade when she learned we were leaving, we bee lined it for Panba. A night and day comparison, Panba was like staying in a four star hotel. Even the community bathroom remodeled in marble was super clean.

Panba sits a little on the outskirts of the old city but in a way it’s nice because you can easily access the main street whereas inside old town, cars are not allowed to pass. It proved convenient as well when a group of us set out for a bike ride to nearby Basha, a Naxi village, the following day.

Aside from eating the safest thing I could identify from the main square market I roamed the cobble streets admiring the moss flowing in the canals and the beauty of the city amidst thousands of souvenir shops.

The next day Kathrin and I were determined to visit the famous Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Partly due to the bad weather, this was by far the most expensive waste of money to date. The big attraction is taking the cable car to the peak which sits above 18,000ft. So after spending nearly $60USD just in transport there and entrance fee, we decided to skip the extra $30USD charge to go to the glacier, mostly because it was a cloudy day and from the photos we saw, it didn’t seem that impressive anyway.

After failed attempts to agree on a reasonable price for a mini bus back to Lijiang we stuck out our thumbs and got incredibly lucky hitching a ride with a nice couple in a comfy Acura RDX. It was merely a matter of them storing all of their Moon Cakes and shopping into the trunk to make room for us in the back seat, but with the little English and the little Chinese that Kathrin speaks we counted our blessings that we landed such a pleasant ride, even stopping to smell the flowers along the way.

In route back to Lijiang is another old city called Shuhe, pronounced Shoeher. Eager to visit, we requested to be dropped off at the roundabout so we could catch a bus to Shohe. We waited only five minutes or so for a bus to pass only to learn that there isn’t one that goes to Shuhe. So using the old thumb trick again, within minutes a nice young couple, a Tibetan man living in Lijiang and his girlfriend who visits from Beijing, accepted our plea and accompanied us to Shohe. We spent a couple of hours exploring the mini Lijiang on our own before meeting back up with them for a ride back to Lijiang.

On the way back to the hostel that night I made note of a few cute cafes serving wine. Of course when I mentioned it to a pair of Spaniards, it became a mission to retrace my steps and indulge; easier said than done in Lijiang. Instead we settled on some local red wine and a sandwich made with Naxi Bread. Basically another fried doughy version of bread.

The next day the sun was shining making for a good opportunity to wander the city, take a walk up to the top of Mu’s Mansion and then bike ride to the local Naxi village called Basha. Actually there were five of us from the hostel that paired up for the excursion. As always it felt great to cycle, you can cover so much more ground on a bike. We followed the main road to the roundabout where you turn off for Shuhe; familiar from the previous day, then we took a right at a dirt road. Passing the endless sunflower fields we arrived at the little village only to find everyone trying to sell us their goods.

A tad hungry we attempted to order some dumplings but it wasn’t until we sat there for a good 20 minutes asking questions about the menu etc. that we finally interpreted that the kitchen was closed. The alternative was some fresh baked moon cake and cookies.

We almost made it home dry but not so fortunate, an enormous downpour started as we approached the downtown area. Confused with direction, we were happy to have a Chinese girl among the group. Once home, showered and dry we all joined the staff of Panba for a delicious home cooked meal.

My Review Of The Place I Stayed



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