Lijiang


Plunging gorges, soaring snowy peaks, alpine lakes, and an ancient old town. 5 days in Lijiang, where there is much to do, and as many tourists to match. I continue on my overland journey from Singapore to Moscow, now well through the heart of Yunnan in Lijiang, before heading east to Beijing, for the Trans-Siberian Railway, to Siberia and beyond.
Got this from one of the bus legs in Thailand earlier on the trip before Kunming, pretty much deflated. Glad it hadn’t exploded in my bag, but I finished in anyway just to be sure. I try to travel cheap, but travel chips aren’t really my thing. I arrived in Lijiang late in the afternoon and managed to find the hostel (~100Y for 5 nights) booked a few days before. It was probably one of the more run down ones in the entire trip but one of those where I had the most fun, making lots of friends and exploring the area together.
Seems like the Chinese really love their hotpots and so I had my second communal steamboat (since arriving in China) with other folks at the hostel (mostly from other parts of China this time) and drank more ‘Wind Flower Snow Moon’ beer. The folks were really friendly, and if it were in Singapore anyone else would have thought they had been friends for years when in fact, most of them probably met for the first time that night. I was kind of apprehensive in joining in, being in a new environment, but they were really nice and inclusive, so it was hard not to feel at home (apart from the fact that the hostel was not really in great shape).
Most people head directly to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and take the cable car up to its snowy peak, but as my hostel offered a group hiker around the mountain, I decided to try that instead. If you prefer/ intend to go up the mountain on your own, this information might come in handy. The next morning, I joined a hike organised by the hostel (180Y) to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain area. Although we weren’t going to the summit, the hike would take us to the areas surrounding the summit seldom frequented by tourists. There were no clearly demarcated paths, meaning that the hike could only be lead by people experienced in the area. First, getting to the start point, a short distance out of town, via a minivan.
Throughout the hike there was almost no one else other than our hiking group, maybe one or two hikers who somehow made it on their own, and some touristy horse riding stuff near the exit of the hike. The area’s called (no persons area) for good reason and I would definitely advise not going there alone. Just did a quick google of area while writing this and apparently tourists get lost in the area often, while one died in the area just this Feb after getting injured and not being able to get help in time.
So it seemed I hadn’t got myself enough hiking the day before, and got myself into another hike the next day, to the Tiger Leaping Gorge. This time, it wasn’t one organised by the hostel but by other guests planning to head there and had invited anyone else who might be interested. The path was well frequented by tourists and there wasn’t a need for a guide. However, the hostel did help us to reserve tickets on the bus to and from the Tiger Leaping Gorge (110Y for transport, 65Y for admission paid at entrance).
Entering the gorge, the road to the starting point of the hike can be quite unnerving, with steep overhanging rocks on one side of the road and a drop off on the other side that seemed to extend forever to the bottom. Portions of the road were missing from heavy rockfall, and the fact that the driver was on the phone with a hand on the wheel did not help calm passengers down. At Tina’s Guesthouse, everyone got off the bus (some were leaving their bags at Tina’s or staying the night there), while those on the day hike (like us) proceeded with a smaller vehicle to the start of the hike a little further down the road.

Chris Agar

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