We’re flying blind in Lijiang, China. Not knowing any Chinese, barely able to pronounce the words we know, and with few Chinese possessing passable English, we’re on our own in Yunnan, China’s most diverse province. The titular question was spit out of a computer translation program as a tour operator’s last ditch attempt to win our business. In her own garbled way, I think she was trying to tell me I’m fabulously good looking. Although I couldn’t agree more, we decided to move on.
We’ve also decided to pay to have our Chinese visa extended so we can look around a bit more. Without the extension, we’d need to head into Vietnam or Laos by Wednesday. Instead, we’re going to take an extra week and poke around this interesting corner of China which borders Tibet, Sichuan, and Myanmar/Burma. How can it not be fascinating?
Today began with what could be the best $5 bus ride out there. From Dali, we headed north along Er Hai Lake and its tremendously lush farmland. For the first time in a week, the clouds parted and we caught a fleeting glimpse of the mountains we hiked through in the rain yesterday. I rode shotgun, as the 15-seater barreled through the countryside, air horn bleating incessantly and unceasingly, as we passed two bustling markets, and countless slow-moving farm vehicles. After about 90 minutes, the road began to climb and before long the wonderfully named Jade Dragon Snow Mountain came into view and stayed in view for the rest of the journey. CeCe thinks it’s a poor man’s Denali (that’s Mt. McKinley to all the McCain supporters in the audience) but I think it’s about the most beautiful rock I’ve ever seen.
And Lijian is pretty cool too. It’s another old Chinese town, this one closely built around a series of serpentine canals originally designed to deliver the town’s drinking water. Tomorrow we’ll wander, and perhaps do the Chinese thing and rent a bike now that it’s not raining, and then on Monday we’ll be off for a two day trek in another wonderfully named destination: Tiger Leaping Gorge. We’ll report back.
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