Lijiang is at an elevation of about 7,000 feet and is just a 45 minute plane ride from Kunming. The historic Old City dates back 800 years and is home to the Naxi minority group. The town is built atop a system of rivers and streams. The walkways are made of large cobble stones, and stone bridges have been built across the waterways.
The Naxi people have their own language. They are also are known for their unique dance and music as well as their unique system of writing called the Dongba Script. The Dongba Script uses pictographs. Their written language dates back 1000 years. In fact, I have a sample of the writing on the wall of our room.
We've noticed that the skies are blue here and the water is crystal clear. People who live in the old town walk everywhere. In fact, nor cars, motorcycles or vehicles of any kind are allowed.
The old town is a place where the Chinese tourists flock. There are shops of every kind: leather, wood, silver, paper making, calligraphy, and weaving. The people in the shops are not selling some else's stuff, they are making the products right there on the spot. In one leather shop the craftsman will even make a custom leather item. As I walk by the silver shop I hear the hiss of the torch. In a lapidary shop I saw gems polished and put in settings. I watched a wood burner "sketch" intricate animals and landscapes on slices of wood.
Lijiang people recycle everything. Their waste baskets on the public streets are marked "recyclable" and "non-recyclable" for easy identification. Lot's of people are poking around in the trash looking for plastic bottles.
We didn't see any beggars in Kunming or Lijiang. We did see entire families out polishing shoes, or picking through the trash looking for recyclable items like plastic water bottles. And I did mention about the group of blind people (about 20 in all) in the center of the square giving massages. In Kunming I stopped to take a picture and a lady asked if I was done with the large empty plastic water bottle I set down beside me. I gave it to her and she crunched it up, put it into here bag, and walked off a happy camper.
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah, the old town. At night the place comes alive with singing and dancing. Folks in traditional garb sing their traditional songs in front of the restaurants. Even people eating at the place will chime in, each restaurant trying to out sing the other.
After we arrived in Lijiang we dropped off our stuff at an inexpensive place and hiked up to the top of the town. We were soon exhausted not just because of the climb but also because of the thinner air. So we found a restaurant with a view watched the sun go down. We also saw from this vantage point Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, our destination for tomorrow.
I should like to spend the whole of my life in traveling abroad, if I could anywhere borrow another life to spend afterwards at home. - William Hazlitt
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