Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Dali and Lijang
Kunming made me crave something more quaint, older and more authentic, and the old cities of Dali and Lijang seemed just the cure. Sadly, I was wrong.
Dali, a famous old city on the shore of Luhai Lake, sandwiched between two mountain ranges sounded fantastic. It was one of the first backpacker towns in China and I hoped to spend two days hiking in the mountains about town, enjoying the view of the lake below. What I found was more city. The people never stopped and the ancient city was just a small area within the mass. What set it apart from the rest were some gates (the wall was gone) and the masses of Chinese tourists buying stupid souvenirs. I chose a hostel out of town that sounded lovely and was, except I was the only one there. It rained every day I was there, so spent most of my time writing, only stopping into to town to have meals at a restaurant ran by a really cute owner.
Lijang proved just as touristy, maybe even more, but it at least maintained its charm. It was truly an old city, restored, but most of the well built buildings stood in their near original forms, minus the shops selling traditional Naxi costumes and the flute and drum shops, each featuring store keeper poorly playing the instruments along with the same song. It was so easy to get lost. I found a square, took a left, walked a bit, then came back to the same square. So, I went South, walked a bit and found myself again in the same square. I found it fun. Others did not. I distinctly heard one American woman yell into her phone in frustration, "We'be been walking this same street for hours and we keep coming back here!" There are worse places to get lost than amongst charming canals lined with Chinese lanterns and tree blossoms. I typically don't like such ridiculously touristy places, but Lijang was nice. Still, one day was plenty.