16 July 2013 (Tuesday): Lijiang Old Town (丽江古城)
Picking up from where I left previously, we took a train from Dali and arrived at the world famous touristy city of Lijiang. We waited for the crowd to clear before taking public bus no. 18 to Lijiang Old Town. The journey took about 30min and cost only 1yuan/pax.
Lijiang Old Town is a maze of winding cobblestone streets and walking is the only option in the old town. Even though the entire old town is filled with hundreds of Naxi-style guesthouses, I booked Lijiang Oak Garden Inn (橡树园) coz it was very close to the main street making it so much more convenient to travel around. The staff was nice enough to allow the 3 of us to squeeze into a twin room without any surcharges. =P
After dropping our luggage at the hotel, we started exploring the many many small alleys in the old town. I was walking around with my cool knee guard and hiking stick attracting some attention...haha!! Actually I was able to walk perfectly fine, just wanted to avoid straining my knee too much. =P
In a way, Lijiang is kinda like Venice coz it's extremely easy to get lost as there is no grid. We didn't use any map and just randomly took whichever turning we felt like taking. In fact, getting lost was part of the fun as it brought us to some new interesting spots and we were able to stay away from the crowd. =P
We walked for about 2km in the old town and ended our sightseeing at the Water Wheel coz it started drizzling in the evening. We then walked for another 2km on the main road to get back to our hotel. Pretty impressed with how much I walked during this trip!! =P
20 July 2013 (Saturday): Since our Lugu Lake tour was called-off due to the landslide and we didn't wanna risk getting caught in the floods in Kunming, we decided to extend our stay in Lijiang for 2 more days. The past few days had been pretty hectic traveling here and there, so it was nice to be able to chill and relax for 2 days before we head back to Kunming.
After staying in Lijiang Oak Garden Inn for 3 nights and familiarizing ourselves with the area, we decided to change to a cheaper and nicer hotel for the next 2 nights. Mom and I went walking around and found this hotel '三江宾馆' that costs only 150yuan/night. The boss was extremely helpful and nice. He even drove us to the hotel and ensured that we were fine with the room before paying. This hotel had all the basic things we needed...clean, wifi, TV, and air-con...enough for me to bum in the room for 2 days. =P
I'm glad we were done with all the sightseeing earlier during this trip coz it was just raining non-stop for the last few days. The only time I stepped out of the hotel was for lunch and dinner. Check out my cool raincoat fashion...hahaha!! Even our umbrella gave up on the weather...lol!!
21 July 2013 (Sunday): Revisiting Lijiang Old Town (丽江古城)
For those who have been reading my last few posts, you would have known how much I dislike the crowds while traveling in China. Being in this always-crowded-with-tourists town of Lijiang, the only way to avoid the crowds is to get there early in the morning before all the tour groups flock in.
I woke up at 7.30am to set-off on my solo exploration of Lijiang Old Town bringing my camera and an umbrella. I found a shortcut from our hotel that goes through a hill to get to the old town using Baidu map. This shortcut (新华街黄山上段) is a deserted hilly path with local residence houses on both sides and the people using this path are mostly locals who stay there. It was so deserted I only saw a Naxi old lady and a dog along my way. =P
At the end of the hilly path was the summit of Lion Hill overlooking Lijiang New Town. I didn't want to pay to go into Wangu Pavilion so I just took some photos from this angle.
Absolutely loved the tranquil side of Lijiang old town. No shops opened, no big groups of tourists, just quiet alleys and quaint Naxi wooden buildings on both sides of the alley. =)
Lijiang is also known as 'Venice of the Orient' coz it's filled with narrow canals crossed by slender bridges. The flowering trees sheltering the canals along the bar street seem so much lovelier without any crowd.
There weren't many people strolling around so I took a bunch of selcas. I saw few other people with their DSLR cameras, obviously they were also trying to avoid the crowd. =P
Pork ribs (腊排骨) steamboat for dinner.
22 July 2013 (Monday): Lijiang - Dali - Kunming
Checked-out from the hotel at noon, had lunch, and took bus no. 18 to the train station. Goodbye Lijiang!!
The sleeper train tickets from Lijiang to Kunming was sold out but we managed to get the seat tickets from Lijiang to Dali (34yuan/pax) and the hard sleeper tickets from Dali to Kunming (105yuan/pax). Pretty impressed that we managed to find this alternative...lol!!
3-hour transit in Dali train station.