Archangel's blog A pointless waste of time

30Jun/113

Good Food, Bad Stomach

A small update (making up for the lack of those in the last couple of days?).

So I am now in Yangshou. The train was a little late but not to bad. When I arrived in Guilin I went directly to the bus station. Which was only about 300 meters up the road (and that was he first time the compass in the iPhone actually came in handy). The bus ticket was easy to acquire, I just said "Yangshou" and she showed me the next departure which was 15 minutes away. The ticket cost 18 Yuan. So I just had time to buy something to drink on the bus and then board. The bus trip only took one hour and twenty minutes.

Hoping off the bus I just had to shake of the plethora of people trying to sell me hotelrooms, guided tours and such services. "Bo jao, bo jao" and walk on. Once one the street I was quite shire which way to go in this small town but once again double checked with my iPhone compass. My good sense of direction lead my on the right path but I missed the street I was supposed to turn of since it was an alley about 1.2 meters wide in between shops. So I walked to far and came at it from the other direction. But that didn't cost me more than 2 minutes, tops!

Fortunately they had empty beds, was a bit worried since I hadn't booked. A bed in a six bed dorm cost me 30 Yuan per night, not bad. And they have roof terrace with a view of the entire town and washing machine I could use. So I freshened up with a shower and threw my laundry in the machine and then headed out for some dinner.

On all the main streets the restaurants looked both expensive and boring. Many even "boasting" Western food. No thanks! So I headed for the back streets and the outskirts of town. I eventually found a street full of small restaurants that had small tables out on the sidewalk. Classic Chinese street food!

So after walking up and down the street I settled on one. They had all the raw ingredients presented like a buffé. So I just pointed to what I wanted, beef and five different vegetables and I asked for noodles instead of rice. They fried it up for me with some spicy chili. And of course I couldn't resist ordering a beer.

Dinner time!

So what did this little feast cost me? 12 Yuan!
That's right, about 12 kr for that. 8 Yuan the food and 4 Yuan for that big beer! Eat your heart out Stockholm!

I then headed back to the hostel to hang my laundry on the roof and I'm now sitting on the roof with a beer just chilling.

The only stormcloud on my horizon is that my stomach still is not feeling all that great. So I need regular trips to the bathroom (sorry, maybe TMI). But I'm trying to ignore that and just enjoy it here.

The weather here is hot and very humid. After a few days in a cool climate I'm sweating badly, but I'm not complaining.

Since I now have internet I'll probably update again shortly (so people can chill).

Bonus! A video from
The hostels roof top terrace. 43.3 MB

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30Jun/111

Green, Green Fields

I'm now on a train headed for Guilin. Woke up a little while ago and still have 10 hours to go. So I'll write an update (which will be posted simultaneously with the one that comes before, haven't had internet in a while but the next hostel is said to have wifi).

So, what has happened?...
The bus left just 30 minutes late. I had a top bunk and the bunks where no more than 10-15cm wider than my narrow hips, really incredibly narrow beds. I didn't sleep all to good since they had movies on for a long time and right above my bunk was a speaker and they had the sound on full blast. So even with som soothing music in my headphones I could still hear the shooting and screaming. And the driving was (as usual in China) a little erratic as well. As I had guessed we arrived in Xinjie in the middle of the night, somewhere around 3. But they didn't make us get off, they just parked the bus and let us sleep the rest of the night.

But I was woken up by a Chinese woman around 5 and first could not understand what she wanted. To someone not just woken up it would have been obvious that she was pitching a place to sleep and guided tours. I told here I had a reservation at another guesthouse and took her card since she insisted.

Two hours later when I woke again I decided to actually get up. So out of the bus and headed towards the ticket office to buy my ticket out of town, again to not be stuck where I didn't want to and this time also so I wouldn't miss my train from Kunming. To no real surprise the ticket office was closed this early. So I fended of the people tryin to sell me places to stay, expensive rides and guided tour and headed to the town square. Both to just walk and kill time but also to try to find one of the 24 hours open internet places that lonely planet said where there. And since I'm posting this and previous post a couple of days later you can probably guess the outcome of that! Everything was closed and the town was (pardon my French) a shit hole! There was construction everywhere and no trashcans but rather piles of trash in different places. The main stairs down from the square were being rebuilt so it was a large slanting ditch where you'd have to balance on a mud edge on the way down. The weather was misty to say the least, I could barely see the edge of he square and definitely not the view. After just 20-30 minutes of this I decided to head back up and just wait by the station. I had been informed when I asked one of the hawkers up there that it would open at 9, now "just" an hour and a half away. But to my surprise and joy it had already opened. So I quickly got my ticket for Wednesday and headed outside for a ride to the guesthouse. There are no real local busses in this area but I had heard that there were lots of minivans that shuttled back and forth all day and that you'd just have to flag on down. Supposedly they should cost about 15-20 Yuan for a long ride (which I had ahead of me). He first guy I asked said 100 Yuan. I litterarly laughed at him, said "to expensive" in Chinese and walked down towards the square. On my way down there a minivan drove by slowly, so I showed the driver my map and asked how much. With the answer 20 Yuan I promptly got in. They also picked up the guide that had woken me up in the night. She was actually headed to the same guesthouse as me to pick up a couple for a guided tour. This was very lucky since the guesthouse was very hard to find in the mazelike village. But about an hour on the minivan and a winding walk between houses on the slopes later I arrived at the guesthouse. There I found four other tourists. Three of them left with the guide after again having asked me to join. But after a long time without a shower and change of clothes I decided to skip it.

This turned out to be pretty good. First of all I got a shower which felt oh so good. I felt like a new man afterwards! Secondly I got to talking with the remaining tourist. Monica as her name was was from Canada and had stayed one night at the guesthouse (she came on the bus I wanted to come on) and wasn't really fond of it. She had heard of another place that was cheaper both on the lodging and had a real restaurant (this placed served "dinner" at a specific time for 30 Yuan). So after talking to her for a while I felt convinced that the other place would be better. But once here in this remote part of the area I might as well take a walk among the terraces since the weather was clearing up. Turned out she was thinking the same so we struck out on a walk together and just walked, talked and took pictures. The villages really were like mazes and there were rice terraces everywhere.

After a long walk we arrived back at the guesthouse where Moncia checked out and I just took my bag and we headed up the road to flag down a minivan. At this remote location there weren't many vans so we had to walk for a while before we saw one.

After a bumpy ride on cobbled streets and mud paths we arrived at "The Photographers Hotel" which had a more central location in the area and as promised we got both cheaper rooms and a real menu with good prices. Both of us being hungry we decided to split three dishes between the two of us. Big mistake! The portions were huge but we still finished almost all of it and thus we later paid the price... But the food was really tasty!

The place was run by a photographer and his wife. The photographer has several published books (I might look for one or two when I get home) of which several are about this scenic area. His wife ran the daily business and was very nice and helpful. You were supposed to pay an entrance fee for certain part of this area but she showed us ways where we could go walking in great areas without having to pay. So we went for another walk among the rice terraces.

The weather had by now cleared up real nice and was wonderful. The scenery was really breathtaking! The only negative thing that could be said was that we didn't get the classic look of the terraces since the rice had grown. What one really wants is the waterfilled terraces that reflect the sun, sky and clouds. Now it was all green flowing fields. Still gorgeous but not as otherworldly as the waterfilled view. Might have to come back here some winter...

A long way down the terraces and Monica felt ready to turn back, then the rain started! We stood under a tree for at least half an hour waiting for the rain to abate but no such luck. So we had no choice but to start walking. We got thoroughly drenched and partway up we came to a fork in the path we didn't recognize. Coming down it had been hidden by trees. We took a chance on the right one since it went more upwards. Again a big mistake!

This path started out nice but ended up with us having to walk through very narrow mud trenches with water flowing down them. When we finally came to the main road (after what felt like forever) we were quite some way from the hotel. But at least we were walking on the road (most of it just mud though) and knew the way.

Back at the hotel we felt we had earned ourselves a beer each and had a very light dinner since we both still felt a bit stuffed from lunch.

In the evening there really wasn't much to do in this place and since we both were spent we went to bed early. I had arrange to go see the sunrise at 5:30 in the morning so sleep sounded extra nice.

This is when I started to pay for lunch. My stomach hadn't eaten so much te last couple of days and especially not such huge amounts of vegetables. Thus I spent the night trudging back and forth to the toilet. So when the alarm rang at 5 I took a peak outside and saw that it was pouring down and the clouds hung thick and low I decided to get some more sleep instead.

At breakfast there were three new arrivals at the hotel. A Swiss girl and an Israeli couple. They had arranged to have the photographer drive them around for good photo spots. When asked if we wanted to tag along I thought it sounded like a great idea. A photographer who knows the area as a personal guide! Doesn't get much better than that!

But that was to be after lunch. So before lunch we headed in to town (the shit hole) so that the Israeli guy could report his iPhone stolen at the police and Monica wanted to buy her bus ticket out so she didn't get stuck. We then walked the town the tree of us (me, Monica and the Swiss girl) while the Israelis visited the police. On our way back we picked up another Isreali. He had gotten a room in town but after hour persuasion he got his bag and headed back with us to out hotel instead.

After a quick lunch we crammed the five of us (the new Israeli not included) into the photographers little sedan and headed out for a long ride around the area. This was definitely worth it! He brought us to great places and it felt like we really saw the sweet spots.

The weather was varied. It really changed quick in this area. At one place we arrived we didn't see a thing. Two meters out from where we were standing was a white wall. I had no idea if there was a three feet or a three hundred feet drop in front of me. Just five minutes later the clouds cleared and a beautiful valley could be seen. And it turned out that the second alternative probably was closer to home.

So we spent several hours driving around to different spots and photographing until we got to the last place that was supposed to be great for sunsets. But with more than an hour till sunset we decided to take a walk along the terraces in the meantime.

Assorted pictures:
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One thing that fascinated me was that you'd see women working everywhere, but very few men. The women worked the road construction sites, they walked up and down the terraces with huge loads and they herded the water buffalos. The day before me and Monica had talked about this and she had wondered what the men did and I had joked that all they did was smoke (they could be seen here and there smoking from bamboo bongs). In the car with the photographer we passed a road construction and he commented "look at all the women, all the women work and work so hard, just women everywhere". Monica then asked him what the men does and his reply was "they smoke". Though it was a bit sad that it's the truth I couldn't help but laugh.

After our walk we went back to the sunset place. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side and we didn't get the beautiful sunset we were hoping for. But in all it had still been very nice and totally worth it. We only paid 40 Yuan each for what turned out to be an 6 hour guided tour!

Back at the hotel we all shared a big and tasty meal and I had a beer to round of the day. And as I said earlier there really aren't that much to do there in the evening so we all just chatted and had a nice relaxed time.

Monica had actually planned to go to Yanshou as well (the place where I was headed with bus, train and bus the next day) so she was on the phone with a hostel in Kunming trying to book train tickets on the same train but ended up having to stay on day in Kunming to go the day after instead.

Again we all headed to to bed pretty early. And up at 7 to head to town to get some breakfast and see the market before the bus left at 9. Breakfast was sorted but the market turned out to be in another town this day. Typical!

The bus left right on time! I was seated at the front, seat number 1. Monica was right behind me and next to me there was another Canadian, Dan. He had actually come on the same bus as me (though i hadn't seen him) and had left with the woman that woke me up. He also turned out to have a ticket on the same train from Kunming to Guilin as me. So we talked on and of for the entire bus ride, with Monica joining in from the seat behind.

Once in Kunming we decided to split a cab to central together. Instead of 2 hours on a local bus for 3 Yuan we spent 26 minutes in a cab for 15 each. Without a doubt worth it!

We went to the hostel were Monica was going to stay the night and me and Dan left our luggage there for the time being and we went for a walk. We had some really good late lunch/early dinner together and drank a beer. I bought 10 tasty dumplings for 5 Yuan that I planned on eating cold as breakfast on the train.

Dan and me then picked up our bags and took a local bus to the train station. On our way there I bought emergency noodles and something nice to drink for the train. Dan and me were in different parts of the train so we said goodbye on the platform but will likely bump into eachother in Yangshou.

This time I had no great luck with the passengers. Just older ladies... So I spent the evening reading before I tried to sleep. Sadly my stomach again decided to mess with me and I spent many trips to the very clean bathroom on the train.

Now I'm sitting here waiting for the train to arrive at Guilin. But since it's raining we're (at least) two hours late. So I'll read some more and hopefully post this as soon as I get to the hostel.

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30Jun/111

Unplanned

As planned the Saturday was spent chilling and just enjoying he weather and town of Lijiang. At 15:30 Joakim's cab arrived and we said goodbye. Though he left I wasn't alone just yet. I spent the afternoon with four boisterous guys from Australia, the Britt and the Korean guy. When after a while the Australians got a bit tipsy they got a bit to noisy and macho for my taste so I grabbed a seat in the garden and read some in my book and talked to the Korean guy. The Australians decided to go out for a drink and the Britt joined them.

So I Had ordered a cab for me and the Britt, since we were getting on the same train we might as well share a cab. That cab was supposed to leave at 20:30, an hour before the train departed... At 20:35 there was still no sign of the Britt! He came running in at 20:45, winded and drunk. Apparently he hadn't realized how far away the bar was. It's only thanks to the staff at the guesthouse that I was still there, they assured me here was plenty of time. Fortunately they were right. We got on the train with 20 minutes to spare.

I again was lucky, the guy in the bunk next to me spoke very good English and was both chatty and friendly. So we spoke about Yunnan and it's sights for about 2 hours before we decided to sleep. The same guy woke me up in the morning when we were just 15 minutes from Kunming. So I had a short journey it felt like and when I for once had stocked up with stuff to munch on on the trip I barely ate a thing. So I got off the train with my luggage and a full bag of consumables.

Once off I saw the sign for the cab line and decided that I'd be lazy and take a cab to the bus station on the outskirts of town instead of trying to find the crowded but cheap local bus and then not knowing when to get off. When it was my turn I showed them writing in Chinese where I wanted to go and two drivers just waved me off! So much for the official cab line. So I just went up to the street and hailed a cab and then had better luck. It was a pretty long ride so I was glad I didn't take the bus, even though it cost me a bit more.

Got to the bus station with lots of time to spare till the 10:20 bus. Not that it mattered since both the 10.20 and 3:30 busses were full. She tried to sell me tickets that meant that I would have to change busses in the middle of nowhere, something I was not so keen on. So after a bit of arguing I got tickets for the sleeper bus at 19:30. The thing I find strange is that he journey is said take six and a half hours (according to Lonely Planet) which would put my arrival in Yuanyang (Xinjie) at 2 at night... Why then a sleeper? I really hope the Korean was right when he said that it was the end stop, otherwise my chances of missing my stop are to big.

Another thing is that I had planned to stay in a village 2 hours away by minivan. They have no local busses there so just hop on a minivan with others and pay 15-20 Yuen for the trip. How many minivans and other travelers will there be at that time of night?... So I might have to just sit the night/morning out at the station...

So then it dawned on me that I had about 12-13 hours in Kunming. A town that didn't seem to have much to offer according to Lonely Planet. But I didn't want to spend that many hours on a bus station. I sat down outside and started with planning the rest of the trip. I didn't want to be stuck like this again so some preparation might be in order. I decided that I will take the train back but stay in another town on he way to split the trip up a bit. Two days would have to suffice in Yuanyang so I decided to head back into town and buy a train ticket for Wednesday. And when I get to Yuanyang I'll buy he return ticket immediately so I didn't miss the train.

So another cab ride put med back in town again. And after some queuing I had the train ticket I wanted. So hopefully I could get the bus ticket I wanted later.

Now I just had a whole day to spend...
After some thinking and feeling the need for a toilet I fell in the westerner trap: I went to McDonalds! The toilet was clean and I could sit down and relax and prepare my day and help-library a bit.

My library

I decided that today would be a lazy rich-man day, so I hopped into another cab and headed for the large park with lakes in the middle of town. So I walked around here with all my stuff for a while before sitting down on a bench by the lake and actually falling asleep for a couple of minutes. Since I felt it coming I actually fell asleep leaning on my stacked bags, so no one could have stolen them without waking me up.

After a wee nap I felt slightly more invigorated so I decided to take a walk to the bird and flower market. The guide book said that they didn't sell much of those two anymore but rather just trinkets. Luckily they were wrong and the market was full of birdcages and flowers. Sadly there was also a pet market along the street that wasn't really up to what we'd consider nice. This made a little ill at ease and also made me miss Olga a bit. So I moved into old town with some fascinating buildings. Unfortunately it was very hard to get good pictures of the place with the narrow streets crowded with people, motorbikes and cars. But I might have snapped one or two interesting pictures.

After this I just ended up on the more modern shopping streets. I trudged through these to get to an area of art galleries. On a big square I was crossing I saw a girl that looked like one of the Koreans I had dinner with two nights ago. But my mind said "no, no, they went north to Shangri-La, so that can't be. You're just bad at telling one Asian from another". Then she turned around, saw me and smiled and waved and the other girl came up from behind having been taking pictures behind me. What are the odds!?! Kunming has a population of about 5 million and then add some tourists to this. It really is a small world!

We talked for a bit and then split up to go about our touristing. I found the art district but was disappointed and thus decided to head to the bus station. Now I'd only have to wait two and a half hours...

Again the first cab just waved me of when I showed him where I wanted to go. Then I was in luck and a cab pulled up because the fare was getting of right where I was. And when the driver didn't seem to understand the girl just getting out read the text and explained to the driver and off we went.

So I ended up at the station and am now waiting for the buss. Seems a bit more complicated than getting a train, so I might have to ask someone when the time comes.

The biggest problem now is that I need to use the restroom but cant do that with all my luggage... I'm thinking of chaining my big bag to the steel seating and bringing my small bag and all valuables with me. Necessity knows no bounds!

One thing that can be said about Chinese cities is that there is no shortage of public toilets. Which is good when one needs to take a leak. Not so good if the need is greater since they range from disgusting to down right rancid. Some of them has been an affront to the act of relieving oneself (at least to our western standards).

We'll see what happens. And I'll probably post this together with next post since I have no internet now.

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25Jun/117

High Altitude

So... There is a lot to write but I think I'll give you the abridged version.

We woke up on Thursday morning to pouring rain. Not like in Hong Kong, but no light drizzle either. This really put a dampened on things. We had breakfast at the hotel and talked to a girl from Canada, Julie, who was also taking the bus to Tiger Leaping Gorge. A big bunch of us then walked to where the minivans were waiting. Me and Joakim got in the last minivan with Julie and a couple from England, Rosie and Charlie. Our minivan then picked up an Australian girl, Georgia, on the way. Then we spent three hours bouncing around paved roads, dirt roads and some paths that by no means could be called roads.

When we came to the start of the trek the others left their large luggage at a guesthouse, we had left ours at the guesthouse in Lijiang. We then started out as a group. Since the other vans had left earlier we were the last out on he trail and it didn't feel crowded.

During the bus ride he weather had cleared up a bit. It was no longer raining but it was a bit cloudy. This was both good and bad. The good part was that it wasn't exceedingly hot which is nice when you're gonna trek up a mountain. The bad part is that the clouds obscured the beautiful peaks.

We trekked for a couple of hours till we got to a guesthouse on the hill where we had a late lunch. We timed this perfectly since the treks only rain occurred whilst we were eating under a roof.

We then headed off fully charged and ready for the "28 bends". This was supposed to be a really had part. And a walk in the park it was not! But refreshing!

Some were feeling the altitude a bit as well. At the highest point we were about 2900 meters above sea level and the climb was very steep from time to time. The view at the top of the "28 bends" was spectacular. Even with the peaks shrouded in clouds it was a sight to behold. Unfortunately I don't have many photos to show since I photographed mostly with my SLR and during the second day my iPhones memory filled up whilst filming.

After the top we headed down for a bit till the next guesthouse where some of the other groups were staying. We decided to move on to the "half way guesthouse" which was supposed to have an amazing view. Not that this guesthouse was bad.

A splendid view

We trudged along for a couple of more hours on mixed trails. Some were wide and nice while some were a bit precarious and scary. Here's a wide one.

A wide easy path

We then arrived at the half way guesthouse which really had a spectacular view, really breathtaking. They had a roof top seating where we wound down with a beer and the inspiring view. Then the entire group shared a great dinner and we sat up talking till way to late.

The next day was supposed to start with watching he sun rise above the peaks. This turned out to be impossible since there was a thick grey cloud cover halfway down the mountains. The point where we were was just below the clouds. We could almost touch them. So we all felt a bit muted during breakfast. But we decided to head out early, head for the bottom and hope for the best. And it almost immediately started to clear up and kept clearing up until he weather was nothing short of perfect (if you don't want to be picky and complain about the heat). This day was both easier and harder. Since much of it was down way it wasn't as hard exercise, but on the other hand it's a lot harder on the knees and a bit more scary. Some parts were real nail biters.

One part that was both wonderful and scary was the second waterfall. The first waterfall just flowed by under a nice little bridge. Not a problem! The second one flowed right over the path. So you had two choices:
1) Hug the cliff face to feel safe on the slippery rock, but this means you get thoroughly soaked.
2) Walk close to the edge to keep dry, but that means balancing on slippery rocks close to the precipice.

With expensive camera that's not waterproof it became option number 2!

Waterfall from afar

A nice panorama of the waterfall

Lounging in the waterfall

Video of the waterfall from afar. 34MB

Video of us in the waterfall. 34MB

During the second video the memory on my iPhone filled so no more pictures or videos for the duration of the trek. Luckily I could borrow some space on Joakim's computer when we came back. So I have emptied all pictures and videos so I can take more during the rest of the trip.

So we slowly made our way down the mountain. Joakim didn't really care for the height or the narrow slippery paths, so the entire group took it a bit slow. The sun was blazing down cooking us good (yes, I did use sun screen this time, even had a hat!).

Once down to the main road we took a break at the guesthouse there and had some water. Everyone except Joakim decided to go the last couple of hundred meters down to the stream and back up again. If the last bit was hard this one was hardcore. Extremely narrow steep paths on the cliff face. The few times they had any railing it went about as high as the middle of my thighs. So not so comforting! Down was a killer for the knees and up was really taking the breath out of one. And the sun never let up. But it was worth it! The British couple decided to call it quits half way.

At the bottom you were right up to the raging river and had a great view both up and down the river along the gorge. Amazing view! I hope I got some good pictures on the big camera.

The trek back up almost killed me and my knee did not at all agree with me. But as I said; totally worth it!

Once up we all shared a nice lunch and chat. Then it was time to split up. The British couple and Julie were going to take a bus to Shangri-La while Georgia was going to trek further. We partied up with a British guy and three Koreans that we had talked to a little and shared a minivan back to Lijiang.

The trip back to Lijiang was long and warm, no air-con... And once we got struck in a Chinese jam. Everything just stood still and no one knew why. Drivers even got out of their cars and walked around talking to each other. We didn't move an inch for 30-40 minutes and then suddenly it all just started moving normally again. No idea why!

Once back in Lijiang we checked in to the hostel and had a shower and change of clothes. I had left almost all my clothes for washing when we led and now came back to a bag of clean clothes. Sweet!

Joakim wasn't feeling to great, the classic tourist bowels... So he decided to stay in while I joined he Koreans and the Britt for a hot pot dinner. It was delicious! We ate, drank, and talked for quite some time.

Hot pot and Korean girls

Video of the hot pot and company

After this they decided to get some foot massage and more beer but I was tired so I headed back to the hostel. A refreshing evening stroll through town.

And I slept like a baby!

Today I slept in to catch up a bit and me and Jocke just walked around town. I went into a real Chinese super market in new town and bought some snacks for the train ride tonight.

In an hour Joakim is leaving for his flight and I'm leaving for my train after dinner. Been feeling a bit strange in the bowels today, hope I'm not getting what he's got, especially not while on the train...

So tonight I'm leaving on a train to switch to a bus tomorrow morning and arrive in Yuanyang tomorrow afternoon for some nice rice fields. Hope they have internet! Otherwise it will be quite here for a while.

See ya!

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24Jun/110

Back From the Mountains

It's late here and I'm tired from two days hiking in the wilderness of the Yunnan mountains. So I just wanted to say that I'm still alive and well. Will try to do a better update tomorrow before I head out for the rice fields of Yuanyang.

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22Jun/116

Fun, Fun, Fun, in the Sun, Sun, Sun

Greetings!
I made a big mistake today... Big! And I'm now paying the price. What, you ask? I'll show a hint:

Aaaaaaargh!

Yes, that's right, I forgot to put on sun screen! I'm now burning up. I fear for how I'll feel the coming days. And tomorrow we begin a two day hike in the mountains. I have put out both sun screen and a hat. Will NOT forget to bring and use!

So, what did we do today to cause this mess? As intended we did rent bikes and rode them to the nearby village to enjoy the scenery. These were our trusty steeds.

Rickety old bikes

Not the freshest of bikes bit they did the trick. Sadly no helmets. I have a feeling that had I asked to rent helmets one of two options would have happened:
1) He would have looked uncomprehending at me.
2) He would have laughed derisively at me.
This is after all a country where you seldom see a person on a motorbike wearing a helmet, much less bikers. So off we went and took it carefully. The good thing was that many roads ha dedicated bike lanes (though also used by motorbikes). The cars tried to be nice by honking their horns before passing to alert us to their presence and intentions. Instead of being kind they scared the shit out of me almost every time. Though they did give quite a wide berth, so it was mostly good. A later part of the way we rode on a stone cobbled path among the fields. There were no cars there, just us and the farmers.

Us!

Video! 12MB

The scenery here is really breathtaking! The city is located in a valley surrounded by mountains, some with clouded tips. The weather (as my condition can attest to) is great. A few clouds but nothing menacing, just fluffy, white pretty clouds.

Nice scenery!

More scenery.

In the small village we took the tour of the old buildings and he market before making a visit to old Dr. Ho. He's an 89 years old doctor of herbal medicine that is famous for his work of long time. When we stalked around outside his store peeking in he invited us in and made us sit down while he told us his story and showed us articles from all around the world (including Sweden). After his story we signed his (dedicatedly Swedish) guestbook, took a few pictures of him and shook his hand. Never did the question of any money or buying anything come up. A strange but fascinating visit.

After this we felt like lunch, which we took in the form of rice dumplings in a random restaurant.

Tasty food.

Nothing special actually but did the trick for lunch. After having finished lunch we also finished the tour around the village. Ending it with me buying a small Buddha statue. I managed to haggle a bit, but since I'm horrible at it I probably got ripped off. The first hawker wanted 380 for it, the second one wanted 280 for it (both claiming that it was unique and very old. lol!) and I eventually bought it for 100. As I said, probably a rip-off but I liked it and have wanted a Kannon Buddha for several years.

We then hopped on our bikes and pedaled our way back to town. Once back in town we returned the bikes and I smothered myself in factor 30 sun screen before heading out for a walk.

We found our way to the top of the hill at the center of town where we got a spectacular view of the surrounding area.

Lijiang old town

Up on this hill there was also a few old buildings to enjoy. I started to feel the effects of to much sun so we slowly made our way back through town. The amazingly picturesque old town is actually a very big and we perused to shops selling mostly crap on our way back. We picked up some nice food from some street vendors. For example some yak meat on a stick. Actually not half bad.

I'm now back, early, at the hostel and have drenched myself in moisturizing lotion that I just bought. Have already done three layers and it doesn't take more than a few minutes before I'm bone dry again. The evening will be spent drinking copious amounts of water and slathering on lotion by even intervals. Let's hope I can keep the worst effects at bay! Wish me luck!

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