Charming Old City
Trip Start May 04, 2011
124Trip End Oct 08, 2012
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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
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
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
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.
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