Our next stop was Lijiang, another UNESCO world heritage site. On the way there we passed fields of wheat, sunflowers, mountains and wooden water wheels. After a solid week of Chinese food when we arrived we found Prague Coffee Shop, a western restaurant and I had a chicken burger and mango shake. It was good.
Lijiang is an incredibly picturesque old town with cobbled alleyways, canals, wooden water wheels and surrounded by lakes and mountains. Wooden shops with traditional crafts, bongo drums, jewellery, handbags, carvings and spices. Colourful fabric shops with the fabrics being woven in the shop. It was one of the first places in China that I started to notice minority groups. In Lijang there are Naxi, Bai, Tibetan, Lisu, Muoso, Yi, Pumi and Han ethnic minority groups. Each group has their own language, festivals, customs and traditions, foods and religions. I noticed people in different traditional outfits with woven baskets on their backs. Interesting wrinkly faces. Outside one of the restaurants a chef was skinning and carving a hanging ram. In the main square Naxi people dancing. Chinese tourists poising for photos with a horse or monkey. I visited the Black Dragon Pool and walked up a steep hill to Lion Hill and Wangu Tower for a view of the old town.
For dinner every night we went to the outdoor street food market. Smoke and smells filling the air. Colourful foods in tapas sized portions so we were able to try and share food between us. We walked around and looked at all the unusual things on offer, watched what other people bought. It wasn’t the same as the Beijing markets with raw cows balls and snakes, the food was much more inviting, but foreign still. We braved it and tried everything we could over the few nights we were there: tofu scramble, chicken feet, spring rolls, quails eggs on a stick, noodles, herby fritters, yak stew, fish, sweet pastries and green lotus buns. There was also a man who sat on our street corner with a big pot of water selling mealies with butter!
Last Stop: Emei Shan
Next Stop: Tiger Leaping Gorge