Monday, December 29, 2008
China Trip Day 7: Lijang
We got up super early and had to knock on a side door and wake someone up so we could check out. I also feel bad for the people we were dorming with. One of them even turned on a light as we were packing up to go. But we did try to be as quiet as possible. After checking out and returning our locker keys we stepped out of the hostel with a mission to find a cab. We were a bit worried as there were absolutely no cars outside. Its quite a different site from the busy roads the evening before. No people, no cars, no lights, no nothing! We walked a bit to a main road and saw a few cars pass but we were definitaly wondering how we were supposed to catch a cab.

Turns out we were worried over nothing as within 5 minutes we were able to flag down a cab driver. There was no hassle with the cab and using the meter and the ride back to the airport ended up being cheaper than the ride to the hostel due to there being no traffic. And the driver didn't even make us pay the whole fair, but only .4RMB worth. Inside the airport it was actually quite busy, though you wouldn't be able to tell from the lack of activity outside. We stood in line for a bit, checked in and then waited for our flight. Once it was time to board, it was quite a trek to the plane. We had to take a shuttle bus to the plane and then wait a bit more in front of the stairs up to the plane. This sucked as Chinese people are kinda pushy so it got really squishy near the stairs. Once on the plane, I was out like a light. I woke up briefly to get a bottle of water from the flight attendants and one more time to get a picture of the beautiful sunrise.

Once in Lijang we took a bus to the city for 15 RMB and then tried to catch a cab. According to the directions our hostel gave us, we should have been able to get a cab from where the bus dropped us off for about 8 RMB but the lady driver just drove us a short way to some big street and made us get out! She didn't charge us, but it sucked being dumped in the middle of a strange with no clue as to where you are. With the help of the lonely planet and Janet's Chinese skills, we managed to locate the old village where the hostel is located and a helpful woman showed us which street we were on on this big map by the entrance of the village. It was quite a walk, especially lugging around luggage. It also sucked that the old village is pretty much all cobble stone. But eventually we made it to the hostel. The hostel was nice and had a good ambiance. My only complaint was that it is sort of 'open' to the outside and thus was a little bit cold.

After checking in and brushing my teeth, we headed out to explore the city. Our first stop was a famous lake, but we ran into trouble when we got there. They wanted 80 RMB to let us in the park that the lake was in. Our book said it was only 30 RMB. Apparently the city recently decided to charge a preservation fee of 80 RMB to get into any of the famous city sites. This really sucked as Janet was poor and couldn't afford the fee. I remember reading in some travel guide that there was a way to walk around the entrance and get in for free, but the road was under construction and we couldn't pass. So we walked around town and started climbing up the side of one of the mountains.

There are some really nice views from up there. Including a nice view of the famous 'snowy' mountain. A few places charged us to go inside to take some pictures but the fees were like 2 to 5 RMB, so it wasn't too bad. We also ran across a Buddhist temple that was free to enter and a girl dressed in traditional clothes gave us a tour in English! Near the top of the mountain we hit another, you have to pay 80 RMB to pass place, so we just turned around. We also found a famous house that belonged to a some famous family by the name Mu, but to get in, once again, was an 80 RMB fee. So we just took pictures of the famous gate in front of the house for free.

During the day we had some breakfast at a really cute cafe. Both of us got a local set breakfast with local cheese, ham, and potato pancakes. Janet also tried some of the local coffee, which I had a sip of, but I still don't like coffee and opted for some tea. We also ran into a man carrying around a hawk, some old people dressed in traditional clothing doing some dance, and a group of people in traditional dress going around on horses. The shops all seemed to sell the same things. I was hoping to find either a spoon or stamps but saw none. I did pick up some tasty ginger sugar snacks. There were 2 flavors, spicy and not spicy. And for once, I chose the not spicy version.

We headed back to the hostel pretty early, but we were tired and had pretty much seen all the city had to offer. At the hostel, they offered a staff dinner for 15 RMB which is super cheap, especially compared to the prices at the restaurants in the old town. So we opted for that. The dinner was really tasty, but they cooked it in a wood burner inside the hostel and it got really smokey. So smokey that my eyes got really watery and had to leave for a bit while the room aired out.

After diner, I had to take the coldest shower of my life in a bathroom with no divider between the toilet and the shower. Later in the evening as we were getting ready for bed, there was a bunch of loud bangs. I went outside to see what was going on and it turns out there was a fire works show happening. So we sat our on the porch and watched the fireworks. After a bit, out neighbors in the adjoining room came our to watch them as well. It was like a mini New Years celebration, just a few days early.

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