China Travel

Kunming is a very nice as big cities go. It's nickname is the "Spring City" because of its temperate weather and vegetation. It’s the capitol of the Yunnan province, and the population is about 4 million, with 1 million of that being in the urban area (spread out quite a bit). It sits at about 6200 feet above sea level and is surrounded on three sides by mountains and on the fourth by the very large Lake Dianchi. It is the Northern end of the famous Burma Road, and as a result was the HQ for the American Flying Tigers in WWII. Kunming's economy is ranked 12th among Chinese cities. Kunming definitely has a something that other big Chinese cities lack.

The next day was all about hanging out in Old Lijiang and not spending hours in drive time. I did my usual morning thing and when Wei got mobile we walked around a bit more and then headed to Black Dragon Pool, which is where all of old Lijiang’s water runs through before being diverted down though the town’s myriad channels. It’s also home to one of the most famous scenic sights in China; the pool, the five-holed bridge, the Deyue Tower and, on a clear day, the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain towering over it all.

The next morning, after visiting Yulong Mountain, I woke early and wandered about Old Lijiang. I typically get up at 6am regardless of “the night before”. This gave me roughly 3 hours to “break out” of the Inn and enjoy the fresh mornings of Lijiang, since Wei didn't get around so early. This was my routine while there. IMHO, morning is the best time to appreciate Lijiang (and the best time to take photos). The air is fresh, most of the shops are closed, and the tourists are scarce. For the most part, it’s kids going to school, farmers bringing in produce, and other locals getting ready for the day. By about 8am, the ancient lanes of Lijiang absolutely echo with the sound of children at school, an appropriate reminder that Lijiang has a future to plan for, as well as a rich history to preserve.

The next morning I met with our guide and driver (two people) and left for a day trip to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (or Yulong Mountain). Yulong Mountain adds to the mystique of Lijiang as it dominates the scenery of the area. On a clear day, its presence only nine miles away can’t be ignored. Being so close, it is the principle source of the sparkling clear water which sustains the area and runs through the channels seen in most old town streets. It also features the southernmost glacier in the Northern Hemisphere and 13 peaks, among which Shanzidou is the highest one with an altitude of 5,600 meters (18,360 feet).

Here is part two (or day 2) of my recent trip to China, which begins the portion of the trip where I stayed in Lijiang. I was going to include the entire time spent in Lijiang in one post, but it ran on too damn long. :p So... you're going to get a post for each day.