Day 10: Lijiang
Note: Shaky internet access lately, so today’s a two-fer! Days 9 & 10 posted back-to-back…
Today was our last day in Lijiang, and we were thrilled to wake up to blue skies and a stunning view of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain — our first clear view of it since we’d arrived. A quick taxi ride took us to Black Dragon Pool Park, which lies just north of Lijiang’s old town. In addition to being beautiful, the crystal-clear water from the mountains is also the village’s main water source. The reservoir feeds a series of canals that run through the village streets and flow into three wells that are designated for drinking, washing vegetables, and washing clothes.
Within the park was Elephant Hill; after an hour of climbing we were rewarded with great views of the city in all directions.
We followed the rushing canals from the park into Lijiang’s old town. The entrance to the town is marked by two large (ornamental) water wheels, and there is a huge main square that frequently features Naxi dancing and music.
The old town is a maze of winding alleys, fish-filled streams, Naxi houses with their unique tiled rooftops, and a million shops and restaurants (all selling the same stuff). We spent a few hours walking along the cobblestone streets, shopping and people-watching.
Lijiang’s old town is similar to Shuhe, only bigger and much busier; we were glad we visited but were happy to be staying in a similarly charming but quieter location.
Back in Shuhe, we did a little more strolling and shopping into the early evening. Having not eaten much during the day, we stopped at Shuhe’s “finest Italian restaurant” and had a dinner of pizza and beer. It was so delicious we didn’t feel the slightest bit bad about having a very non-Chinese meal in the middle of China.
Our flight was leaving very early in the morning, so we said our goodbyes to everyone when we got back from dinner. We loved Lijiang and are so happy to have stayed at the Maple Leaf Inn — Wil and Anna were so friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable, and thanks to them we experienced more of Lijiang than we almost certainly would have on our own. Tomorrow we head back east to Hangzhou and nearby Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain).