And other musings on China
16.05.2009 - 18.05.2009 65 °F
Jake and I have been in China for about a week now, and we are still loving it - although we're getting a little tired of Chinese food! We've spent the past few days in Lijiang, a town located in the Yunnan province in the South West, near Tibet. The old town of Lijiang is incredibly charming, replete with canals, narrow cobbled lanes, traditional Chinese architecture and...costumed local people (the Naxi) singing and dancing all day long. Okay, so it's basically a cultural theme park, catering entirely to tourists (mostly Chinese, although we've spotted a few Westerners here and there), but it works. We've had a great time here and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in catching a glimpse of life in China away from the major cities (and impervious to kitschy souvenir shops and massive crowds of Chinese tourists).
The main attraction in Lijiang is the old city itself. When its not jam-packed with tour groups, it is a beautiful and peaceful town, and we had a great time wandering around and taking it all in. The nearby Black Dragon Pool park was also a delight, with scenic views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and some beautiful stone bridges arching over the lake.
Lijiang during the day
Me and Jake at Black Dragon Pool
Today, we ventured outside of the city and visited the mountain itself, taking the cable car up to Spruce Meadow. Our guide book had said that the meadow provides stunning views of the Jade Dragon glacier, but we couldn't see anything (either due to the clouds our mis-information in Lonely Planet, we're not sure!). The hike around the meadow was still very pretty, if a little bit overpriced.
After Spruce Meadow, we made a brief stop at the Jade Peak Monastery - which boasts the amazing camellia tree pictured below. The best part of the monastery was that it was completely empty, a first for us given that most sights are overflowing with Chinese tourists!
Overall, our time in Lijiang has been wonderful. For me, the highlights have been our beautiful hotel, the Zen Garden; walking around the city in the morning before the busloads of tour groups arrive; and our dinner the first night at the Sakura Cafe on Bar Street. We feasted on delicious Korean food amidst disco lights while listening to American rap music - think Eminem and Dr Dre - that got progressively louder as the night wore on (we think that Sakura Cafe and the restaurant across the canal were battling for who could be the loudest).
Chillin' out at the Sakura Cafe (this photo is for you, D!)
A few other random thoughts on China:
We are celebrities here!
Well, not really, but a surprisingly large number of Chinese people have asked to take pictures with us. We also get a lot of "Hellos" from passersby, who seem to be fascinated by the fact of seeing Westerners in the flesh. It's a little weird - certainly these people have seen Westerners before, right? - but also sort of funny. I particularly like how they tend to link arms with us or put their arms around our shoulders in the photos, as if we are old friends. You have to wonder how they explain these photos to their friends back home...
We know a celebrity!
Again, not really, but almost. Jake's friend and former co-worker at Gap, Jason, did some stock photography photos awhile back (which can be used by advertisers for whatever purpose). We've seen his photo used in ads in San Francisco, and always got a kick out of it. When we arrived in China, Jake joked that we should look out for photos of Jason on ads here...and low and behold, we found one in Lijiang of all places! What a small world, huh?
Jason's daughter Lilly was the flower girl in our wedding!
Wo men hui shuo Zhongwen!
(We can speak Chinese!)
We cannot believe how far we've gotten with our Chinese during our time here. We can pick out words on billboards and store signs, we can order food in restaurants, and we can almost understand people when they try to speak to us (as long as they speak slowly and use the vocabulary of a five-year old). We've been pulling out our Chinese language book to review almost every day, and its all coming together quite well. A lot of Chinese people laugh at us when we speak, but at least they understand us, right?