Typos fixed and photos added. :)
30.04.2011 - 02.05.2011 16 °C
Lijiang; "the Flirtatious City" as so aptly dubbed by Lewis' link teacher. To be honest it is really touristy, and seriously I can not stress how touristy this joint is m'dears. Touristy feels like just an ever so slight understatement. (Do you understand what I am saying here? TOURIST-Y!) well I may as well say it was nice to see White people, even if they were (arrogant) French people who insisted on speaking nothing but French to the locals. Seriously, how stupid are some people? The locals find it hard enough with their broken English and my "heavy Australian" accent when I speak Chinese, so how the hell do these people expect them to understand quite possibly one of the most difficult languages to listen to??
Well French bashing aside, loving the May-day holiday here in the not-so-old "Old Town" (古城) of Lijiang. A bargainer's delight and a retailers paradise for RIPPING OFF gullible "laowais" (老外, a semi-rude way of saying foreigner) so when I showed up, I was like 'oh hell no this place is hella expensive' but then when we checked into our hostel (which is amazing by the way, very nice atmosphere here everyone is really friendly) and met a fellow teacher, whose English name was Joe (Argentinian by birth, schooled in the UK and now teaching in SW China) he told us to play the "I'm a teacher card therefor I am poor" card (Which worked by the way) and everything suddenly became much more affordable.
I suppose I should tell you about the last couple of days before I get too far ahead of myself hey?
WELL... the 8hr train journey, sandwiched between 4 other people, 8 to a cabin was nothing short of hilarious, hit and somewhat stinky was mostly uninteresting except for the hour or so where Lewis pulled out the Lonely Planet's Mandarin Phrase book and started to say cheesy pick up lines in terrible Chinese. The rest of the people in the carriage ignored him to begin with, then as they progressed to get more and more cheesy (hit, "I will only have safe sex with a condom") they just started to piss themselves laughing! Seriously I have never seen a group of people go from utterly dead pan to creased up in hysterics so fast! Anyhow; got to Lijiang and what should happen but a MASSIVE tropical thunderstorm. We are talking thunder, lightening bolts that made the ground shake and rain that made you look for Noah and his kick ass ark. The only thing that remained dry was my feet. Which were quite possibly the most vulnerable thing to wet, all I have to say is hiking boots+ankle deep water= nice dry feet. Shame the same couldn't be said for everything else. Looking like a pack of drowned rats we hammered on the bus door (tosser wasn't going to let us on) and rode it until we assumed we had arrived at our destination; the Garden Hostel. Got there, my backpack was actually forming puddles on the inside, my jumper, jeans, t shirt, hair AND underwear were ring-able. But it was all cool. Went straight up to the room, stemless to dry off and didn't properly sign in until the following day (which was nice).
Which leads me to my Sunday in the Flirtatious City.
Started off really early, 7:30am everyone else in the dorm was asleep and I was wide awake. So decided to get up and go for a walk. The Streets of the old town were deserted and slightly misty as I walked through them. Quite haunting and magical actually. I wandered through the labyrinth of cobbled streets and Naxi style buildings to the top of the hill where I could command a view of the old town in it's entirety. Then I saw it. Quite possibly one of the most magical sights I have seen in china thus far. In the not so far distance the giant, black fairy-tale like form of the mountain rose high into the morning sky. So high in fact that at about the 3/4 point of it's height there floated a mystical ring of wispy, undulating mist which above proudly stood the jaggered crest of the mountains with thick, White snow on top. All I could thing of was the quote from the emperor in Mulan at that point; "no matter how loud the wind howls, the mountain will never bow". It reminded me of a proud old man I suppose. But seriously cool not a bad thing to see at 8am now is it?
Later in the day, we were fancying some chow so went to this western cafe called "Through the Window Cafe" where you quite literally climb through a window to get into it. It was at this point where I said 'this joint is must run by a crazy Aussie, through the window lol' well it was that moment when someone said "well actually it's run by the next best thing, a kiwi" (in subtle kiwi accent). I don't think you understand how awesome it was to hear an accent that if you ask me sounded very much like an Aussie accent (except when he said 6 and chips). Sooo good, and so was the pasta, chicken carbonara, mmmmmmm..... Parmesan goodness.... Said we were thinking of going to the Black Dragon Pool park and if it was worth the 80yuan admission fee. Well may I say, best value lunch. Not only was it yum and cheap but it also came with some advice; walk up the road ten minutes and the gates are open and unmanned. So no admission fee, 80yuan for other things. lol trust a kiwi to know that so for 4hrs we just chilled in the park soaking up the absolutely stunning sun and views, wrote a few
Post cards and did practically bugger all. Very relaxing if I must say.
Well it is 12:18am now and I've got an early start tomorrow, cycling through the surrounding villages before a sleeper train to Kunming at night. Will update you with pics etc on Wednesday at some point I suppose. Be good!