Cloudy days in Yunnan

After having had a lot of rain during the first days in Yunnan, the weather got somewhat better – or at least we got used to the occasional rain that was coming down every day. The clouds still kept the snow covered mountains hidden, but at least we got an idea where they are as we were able to see the foot of the mountains. The clouds also made a mystical background of Dali’s three pagodas that we saw in the late afternoon on our second day in Dali.

Three pagodas in Dali
The three pagodas in Dali.

On the second day in Dali we first took the local bus to Xizhou (喜州), a little north of Dali. There we were kind of dragged into one of the “minority shows” featuring traditional dances and songs of the Bai people. These shows are usually part of the trips that most Chinese travel groups make and they are mostly not especially traditional. However, after being offered a big discount we had a look at the Bai architecture and saw the show that was included. Anyway, we got the impression that there are a lot of minority groups doing dances in Dali and Lijiang, our next stop.

Dances by a minority group in Lijiang
A dance performance is trained in a school yard in Lijiang.

In Lijiang (丽江) we originally intended to only stay about half a day and spend a night in the city that was struck by an earthquake in 1997 and underwent a largescale renovation since then. We planned to tour the Tiger Leaping Gorge, but it had been closed down because of the heavy rain that caused a lethal accident in the gorge and made authorities shut down the gorge completely for at least a week. So we did some day trips from Lijiang to flee the touristy city. The old houses in the city are nice to walk through for one afternoon, but then you get the feeling you have seen everything, as the old houses are almost completely transformed into shops where Chinese tourists can buy all kinds of souvenirs.

First bend of the Yangtze river in Shigu
First bend of the Yangtze river in Shigu.

Our first day trip led us to Shigu (石鼓), where the Yangtse is doings “it’s first bend”. I did not expect the stream to be that big at such an early stage of its course, but its water level was definitely higher than normal because of the rain. In Shigu we walked the village, had a good view from the roof terrace of the school on the Yangtse river and then had lunch at one of the small restaurants selling noodles, fried rice and other small dishes.

Kids in Shigu
Seems like foreigners seldom come to Shigu, so the kids were very interested in us.

In Lijiang we once again rented bikes but the bikes from Aladin (阿拉丁) were mot in such a good shape. However we still made it to the park entrance of the Yulong snow mountain area, but we were not willing to pay the 80 yuan entrance fee so we turned around and took some smaller streets through the plain area above Lijiang. In the evening we took a sleeper bus back to Kunming where we spend the day hiking in the Xishan mountain area.

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