Upon arrival in Lijiang, I was picked up by a driver my hotel set up for free, and I was brought to my hotel. I am staying at Xi Tang Exquisite Hotel. When I had booked it, I picked it because it had round beds and I had always wanted to sleep in a round bed.
Shortly after booking, I got an email letting me know that there is going to be construction going on during the day…my heart sank as I thought this was going to continue to tell me that the room is now not available. But it was! I had a reduced rate because of the construction. YAY ROUND BED!
The room was really nice. It was Tibetan style.
I was brought to my room by a woman who I assume is the owner, She pulls out a map that is the size of my bed, and shows me how to walk to the old town. She shows me the nearby school on the map that I can use as landmark if I get lost, and gave me the WiFi password. I truly appreciated this. This may be the first time in China where I was actually given a map and shown how to walk to anything. Oh plus the WiFi password. I cannot tell you how many times I have to go back downstairs and ask because I never remember when checking in.
Lijiang was a struggle for me with altitude. I felt fine for the most part, but stairs and sleeping were difficult. Actually scratch that. Stairs were difficult. Sleeping was a literal nightmare. When you sleep, you breathe in deeply. But when you are in high altitude, you cannot breathe in deeply and you start to choke. And your brain thinks you are dying so you wake up shaking with your heart pounding, because you are dying. The sleeping part was so much better on day two. Walking through Lijiang Ancient Town was a bit slow for me because I kept getting tired. But there are plenty of places to sit and ignore all the people staring at you by playing with your phone.
I got lost twice in Lijiang. Okay three times. But one was my own fault. Okay all three were my own fault.
The streets of Lijiang are a wonderful place to get lost in. They are so pretty.
I surprisingly found the area I was looking for pretty easily. I was shocked to end a maze of old streets with a square that had a Haagen Dazs, KFC and not one, but two McDonalds.
I had wanted to go to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain but with the altitude kicking my ass, I thought that might not be the best of ideas.
I spent at least an hour walking around trying to find the tea bar on my map that was listed as “Waste of Life.” I thought I could post a photo of the sign on Instagram with the message “I am with my people!” But since I never found it, you will have to appreciate my cleverness without an accompanied image.
Lijiang is happening at night. There was one bar that was blasting techno music that I found extremely hilarious because the lyrics were things like “Shake that ass”and “Get on the fucking dance floor” being repeated over and over. No one batted an eye. I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that very few, if any, people understood the lyrics.
Lijiang is full of places selling fresh squeezed fruit juice and my hotel was right next door to a store that sold large yogurt drinks. I probably ate healthier here than anywhere else in the world. This includes my own apartment.
I had never heard of Lijiang before booking this trip. So I was a bit surprised at the hotel prices when I first began searching. They were higher than Dali or Shangrila. But now that I have been there, I understand. It didn’t actually feel like a real place. It felt like a fabricated sort of amusement park with a China section that was man made to look like a stereotype of China. I had to keep reminding myself that it was real. This is a real city. It was not constructed with an engineer following blueprints drawn up at a CEO for an amusement park’s directions.
If I were to come back here, I would spend a full week so I could be completely adjusted to the altitude and take the ride up the cable car to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. I am also a bit bummed that I could also not go see the Lijiang Impressions Show. Okay maybe bummed is probably not the right word, given the elation I felt once I convinced myself that by not going, I could instead, stay in an air conditioned room and breathe.
Lijiang was also the hottest city so far in the trip, with temperatures in the 90’s. the only time I like the 90s is when I flash back and talk about life in my twenties.
Black Dragon Pool. This photo was the first thing I saw when I did research on Lijiang. Of course I wanted to go here and take one myself. I guess that the time of year makes a difference because in the photos I saw online, the background mountains were reflected in the water. Not when I was here. Still a beautiful sight though.
Somewhere while walking through this area, I of course got “Westernered.” This is when people get overjoyed to see you and take photos of you with them. I hate this so much but you kind of have to just let it happen or you will drive yourself insane with trying to avoid it.
Later on, I was sitting on a bench and I hear “OH FOREIGNER” and I look up and see two Western girls in complete fits of laughter as they mime taking my photo.
And then there were the waterwheels that are a big attraction in Lijiang. I honestly didn’t see the big deal. They were much smaller than I imagined. Actually, when I first saw them, I somehow thought they were an entrance to THE water wheels. As if that even makes sense? Sigh.