Day 9: Lijiang

Today we set out to see Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, the tallest peak in the mountain range that runs to the west of Lijiang. Our hotel arranged a private driver which made for a very easy day of sightseeing. Our itinerary included a performance of “Impression Lijiang”, a cable car trip up the mountain, and a visit to Blue Moon Valley.

Map of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Scenic Area

“Impression Lijiang” is a musical performance featuring hundreds of local performers and the mountain as its backdrop. The show tells the story of Lijiang’s Dongba and other minority cultures through singing and dancing. It was created and choreographed by the same man responsible for the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremonies. Last year in Yangshuo, we saw “Impression Sanjie Liu” by the same artist and loved it. This show was equally as impressive.

Cool stage setup

Many different ethnic minorities represented

The stage setup was striking with the mountain in the background. Beautiful costumes, hundreds of horses, elaborate choreography — all together a fantastic show.

Drummers in the audience for part of the show

After the show, we managed to find our driver among the hundreds of tour buses and headed for Glacier Park and our trip up to the peak. The mountain was shrouded in clouds but we held out hope that maybe the cable car would take us above them and it would be clear (spoiler alert: nope).

About to go up!

We took a bus to the cable car station and then an awesome ten-minute ride to 14,000 feet. The second half of the trip was in the aforementioned clouds; everything was white after we crossed the tree line until we got to the station at the top.

Not the best day for clear views, but still pretty awesome

At the tree line

When we exited the cable car, we were greeted with a white-out — a snowy, hazy fog with little visibility. We dressed successfully for this weather, but down coats and hats were available to rent for those poor folks who hadn’t. Oxygen canisters were also available for purchase. Plenty of people buy them, although we think it’s a bit of a mind-trick, money-making scheme rather than a true necessity for most visitors. (Especially since we saw people start huffing them at the bottom of the mountain.)

Up in the clouds!

The elevation at the top of the cable car (the area dubbed “Glacier Park”) is 4506 meters, or 14,785 feet. We tacked on another 100 or 200 feet after we staggered up and down the sledding hill in the blowing snow (which was unsurprisingly closed due to the extreme lack of visibility). All these numbers sound quite impressive, until we considered that Everest Base Camp is at 5150 meters, or 16,890 feet, and Mount Everest itself is at 8846 meters or ~ 29,020 feet.

Plenty of snow up here

Although we couldn’t see much, it was pretty cool to visit the top of a mountain in the middle of a snowstorm. While walking around, we saw a couple bravely having wedding photos taken. They looked beautiful. And they looked like they were freezing.

Into the abyss

Extreme wedding photography

As close to Everest as Nicole will likely ever get

On the trip back down, we had some better views of the valley as we descended below the clouds.

Good views of the valley on the way down

Matt stuck his camera out the cable car window for a couple raindrop-free shots

This sign is grrrrrrrreat

Next up was a visit to Blue Moon Valley, a pretty scenic area known for its sparkling clear blue lakes and waterfalls (although Matt suspects the multi-terraced landscape may be somewhat man-made).

Blue Moon Valley with mountain in background

Matt at Mirror Lake

Based on its performance, that windshield wiper is rarely used

When we got back to the inn, Anna took us to a restaurant for the local dish of “over-bridge” noodles. These get their name from the thin film of oil on top of the broth that keeps it piping hot — women would bring soup noodles to their working husbands and needed a way to keep them hot on the way. Besides the noodles, our soup had chicken, ham, greens, and an egg — everything but the noodles went in raw but cooked almost instantly in the hot broth. It was great!

Over-bridge noodles – delicious!

After dinner we spent the evening in the inn’s courtyard, blogging and visiting with Wil, Anna, and their kids.

2 Comments on “Day 9: Lijiang”

  1. What stunning scenery and great photos! Matthew, I believe this summit height tops your Pikes Peak ‘climb’ years ago! And the beautiful Blue Moon valley pictures remind me a bit of Yellowstone. That ‘over-bridge soup’ picture made me drool and my mouth water!!! YUMMMM! Your hosts certainly seem to be very gracious and attentive….no doubt you will have very interesting stories to share. Thanks again for taking time to blog and share your experiences! xo, mom

  2. Hello travelers, The performance at the mountain reminded Dad and me of the play “Texas” we took you girls to see in the canyon on a much smaller scale, I’m sure. What a thrill to ride the cable car up the side of the mountain! No rain so far on this trip. You guys sure are prepared for any kind of weather, though. As usual, I am in awe of what you are eating; the soup looks so delicious! Did you ask Anna for her fried rice recipe? Enjoyed another day with you two. Love, Mom and Dad

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