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Inns & Outs

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We've had a bit of a challenge with our accommodations here in Lijiang. Our first place was just $10 per night. It was quiet but then the proprietor (a girl of about 20) had five or her friends come to visit. They all decided to watch Chinese drama on their 35" TV in the next room. The walls here are single wall construction. It was as if we were all in the same room watching TV together. The only difference was, Ruth and I couldn't see the TV screen.

Then the local police came by and sat in the courtyard just outside our window. He invited some friends to sit with him to chat and smoke.

The hammering on the inn next door added to the cacophony. The strong finishing spray they use on the doors blows our way and inhibits our ability to take a breath of fresh air. My eyes water. They have just two months to complete the place before the big tourist season begins, so they work all day, but only until 10:30 p.m. or so.

It seems that the local parking space for the motorcycle is located at the entrance of our place, just 20 feet from our door. Whoever was using it came and went every 10 minutes. As they came and went they'd set off an auto-movement alarm from a moped down the street. Of course, that upset the dog across the pathway and he let us all know about it.

I was busy blocking it all out, typing at a small desk I found in the corner of the courtyard when I saw Ruth approach from the corner of my eye. Ruth was trying to get some rest. I looked up to see her hair mussed, she was wearing a frowny face. She said: "It's time to move."

We'd talked about moving inns the night before and the night before that. We figured that eventually they'd turn off the TV. We wore earplugs which brought the decibel level down to about 80. We had some problems with the size of the room. It was just two feet wider and longer than the double bed. We had to put our luggage on the floor so it was like a plastic shuffle game moving from the door to the bathroom. The bathroom was similar to the one in Longji but the light was the strength of a single candle.

I'm not making this stuff up. Really.

So we packed up and went to a hotel that was four and a half times the cost. It was a cute little place on the second floor overlooking a bridge that spanned the waterway. It had a desk and separate shower stall. We figured it would be worth $45/night for some peace and quiet. The guy told us that the music below the window would end when the festivities in the square began. But frankly, I really liked the music, it was acoustic guitar.

So we dropped off our bags at our new inn and went off to meet some of the craftsmen in the old town.

We visited a silversmith, a wood carver, and a paper making plant that uses a waterwheel to beat the pulp. But the man we enjoyed the most was the coppersmith. I wanted to get a photo of him but he insisted on showing us all the items he made, including a copy of an ancient lock. We talked quite a bit with him. He offered to wash the strawberries Ruth bought from an old Naxi lady in the street. I want to go back to see him again. Maybe he'll pose for a photo with his copper tea kettle. He was such a friendly man.

We met a Dutchman who speaks English. His girlfriend runs a restaurant. We told him we were visiting China to determine if we could live here and teach English for an extended period of time. He insisted that we meet his friend at the local college. Eric, his friend, met us at the end of the #4 bus and took us to the cafe he runs on the college campus. His English is very good but he said he still learned a lot while talking with us. He gave us coffee and tea while we talked until 10:15 p.m. We offered to do a demo of our teaching techniques to 20 students that meet at his cafe on Thursday. He says that he'd like to open a private English school for the local Lijiang young people to help them become better tour guides for foreigners. He's looking for a partner.

We caught a taxi home to our new quiet inn.

It's only after you use a bathroom that you discover the insufficiencies. This bathroom door doesn't close. The glass sink teeters. The four foot glass mirror hangs on a single nail and sways dangerously above the teetering glass sink. There is only a single bathroom light positioned on the right side of the mirror, which makes accurate shaving a challenge. We used our hand towels for pillowcases. And finally, I had to fix their Internet wire so that I could have access in the room.

The music below was gone but yelling vendors and motorcycles filled the void. The inn's barking dog let us know of each passing person. The noise on the street below didn't go away until 1:00 a.m.

I think . . . we have . . . to move . . . again.

It may be that the satisfaction I need depends on my going away, so that when I've gone and come back, I'll find it at home. - Rumi

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