28 May 2015:
Yesterday we drove the relatively short distance of 150 km or so from Dali to Lijang on a 1 year old toll way. … No road works !!!!
Before leaving Dali , Barry and I went halfway up the mountains just west of Dali on a cable car ride and nice walk around the mountain side …. Good , but misty views over the lake and the extensive mixture of expanding urban development that extends around old Dali, which is mixed in with very rich agricultural land.
After arriving at our guest house , just a short walk from the Olds Town we had an elaborate negotitation over “tea” about dinner and our planned movements. A very nice little complex of only 8 rooms.
Last night our host from our guest house “Lilly” and her friends and our guide “Gerry” …took us to a near by pub … Largely servicing the local rather than tourist trade. It was a kind of “open mic” night ….lots very talented performers singing what might be called Chines Rock and Pop …. Of all kinds ….including a great mixture of types of music. … Pop , rock, reggae ( including an interesting version of Knock, Knock Knock on Heavens Door) . It was the latest night we have had on tour …. Home around midnight after drinking to much of local beer … Which is very mild …. But we had started the night with some of “Lilly’s” moonshine … A very strong brew … A whisky like drink …. Made from ….. Who knows.!!!
We all felt a little rough in the morning …. But as well as the many great performances we where the main attraction .
Today has been a site seeing day ….a very interesting walk around the old town part of Lijang. Many interesting old buildings…. Mainly converted to restaurants and pubs etc. Lijang apparently attracts 8 million or more visitors ( according to Lonely Planet) … Manly domestic. The narrow lanes twist and turn and you can walk around them for long time looking at the marvellous sights.
Running throughout the town are network of streams and little water ways with very attractive gardens and intricate old architecture. This is a fantastic water sensitive city. …or it was before it became a mega tourist attraction. We where guided on this tour by “Lilly” who delighted in taking hundreds of pictures of us as every 50 metres or so. Our real destination however was the market where we experienced the real heart of Lijang …. And amazing vegetable , fruit and butcher and fish market. One interesting point is that in the very large butcher market …. All the butchers are women … Apparently quite normal … It is always great to walk around the local markets. You get a much better feel for a place when you find the locals market. We bought some fruit for our selves and “Lilly “ bought the ingredients for our dinner tonight. And bus ride home … A great little outing …. The tourist sights and the heart of the place.
After that little adventure it was off for little drive into the foothills of Snow Mountain …. A 6000m high peak which looks over Lijang …here we visits a traditional Naxi stone village which was the home of an Austrian / American botanist / come ethnographer … Joseph Rock … who lived and explored this region for 27 years until 1949. He documented much of the botany and also became proficient in the local Naxi language and traditions. He was supported in his ventures by the National Geographic and wrote, photographed and documented the area and its people in much detail. We visited his home / museum. A very modestly visited place within a village which is a living relic , visited by local tourists , but the museum is much less visited. You need to ring the care taker to get access. Quite an astonishing life he must have lived …his photograps record an amazing array of cultural and traditional activities. There is special article about him in a 1995 (?) issue of National Geographic , the article called “Our man in China ” … Would love to read this on my return.
This was followed by a modest lunch at another near by town … Bashia …. More of tourist place … Embroidery, tie dying and lots of tourists stuff …. But nice to see some of the area and not the just the main focus of the local tourist industry ….we also captured a picture or two of Mollie and Leckie next to the most amazing wood sculpture of a lion …. Probably 20 metres or more long.
Then back to the guest house and rest, dinner and another walk around after dinner in the old town …. Much more hectic in the evening …. Masses of people wandering around taking pictures , pictures , video ….. I wonder where all this data ends up …mind you we are doing the same.
And one other thing: our guest house had the most interesting parking lot …. A little lane with 1.5 m drop on one side , squeesed between the tightly packed buildings ….. Where there is periodic shuffling of cars required … I shot some video of this … Hope to figure out to upload this some time …. But during all this shuffling Mollie and Leckie become the star attraction and get a few more signatures.