Journey to the West - VIII

Trip Start Jul 20, 2004
Trip End Jul 20, 2020

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Where I stayed
May Hostel

Flag of China  , Yunnan Province,
Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I arrived at the Express Bus station near Fuhui Lu and left my luggage there to find a place to stay.  I was suppoed to meet with a CS host but since he was not available until 10pm, I decided to look for a hostel.  I stayed at Dongba Family Hostel, off Wuyi Lane for 20RMB a night.  The room had two beds but no one else became my room mate.  So, I got my backpack and settled in to explore the labyrinth-like streets of Lijiang.  The LP said that one will get lost there, and lost I did get.

It is said there is a fairyland beneath the colorful clouds of southern China. A place blessed with fresh air, clear streams, breathtaking snow mountains, and an undisturbed landscape inhabited by a friendly group of people. Life in this fairyland is so peaceful, a fairyland called Lijiang, located in Yunnan, close to Sichuan and Tibet. The earliest recorded history of Lijiang can be traced back to the Warring States Period (476 BC-221 BC) but with the advent of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the local economy reached a peak with the development of the Ancient Tea-Horse Road which made a great contribution to both commercial and cultural communication between Tibet, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.

To learn a bit about the original Lijiang, I bought Peter Goullart's "Forgotten Kingdom" at the Tourist Center (25RMB). eter Goullart was brought up in the Orient and spent most of his life there. This book describes his years in the ancient forgotten Chinese kingdom of Nakhi in Yunnan, by the Tibetan border, where, as a representative of the Chinese Industrial Co-operatives, he really mixed with the people. 'This is a book about paradise by a man who lived there for nine years. It is not easy to write a good book about paradise, but people are Mr Goullart's forte, and when he mixes us up with the Nakhis he delivers us up to his idyll. Likiang itself, fits sunlight and its flowers and its rushing waters, its wine shops and caravans, its glints of danger, its swagger and its happy laughter, is really here' (The Times Literary Supplement).

At present, Lijiang City is an attractive tourist destination in Yunnan Province that exercises jurisdiction over four counties and an Old Town District. Lijiang is the main region inhabited by the Naxi Group, one of China's 55 minority ethnic groups. In its long history, the local residents have established their splendid Dongba Culture which has absorbed aspects of the culture of Tibet and the Central Plains along the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River.

Lijiang has the best preserved ancient town in China - the Old Town which has been listed in the World Cultural Heritages by UNESCO in 1997. The Old Town was once the center of Lijiang and continues to maintain the original flavor of the local lifestyle, the typical groups of buildings and the profound cultural heritage of the region. But, as with any place that has gone famous, the quiet and peaceful streets are now filled with milling droves of people, this place must be THE mecca for Chinese tourists; a holy pilgrimage to Lijiang is most likely on every Chinese person's travel itenary.  As it doen't get light until about 7.30am, I ventured out the at 8am the next morning in the hope of finding empty streets filled only with busy Naxi women going to and from the market.  Wrong! The streets were already bustling with camera wielding tourists snapping pictures on bridges and under lovely willow trees. Check out some of the lovely pictures taken by travellers:

While wandering the streets of Lijiang, I met Chris, and American who has been travelling around SEA repeatedly.  We went on a little guesthouse tour, checking out my place, Mama Naxi, Panba hostel, May hostel and Camellia Inn.  I was ready to move to another place for two reasons; I wanted to have the experience of staying in more than one place and I wanted a better shower.  I settled for the May Hostel, run by the affable Bai Mei and her lovely staff Jiao Jiao and Da Jie. The place has a lovely courtyard (as most of the Inns and guesthouses do), dorm rooms are 25RMB and one can do laundry for 10RMB. A bonus is that Mei, who is originally from Inner Mongolia, speaks English.  So, in I moved and got ready for my trip to Tiger Leaping Gorge (see next entry).
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