Hello Again. During the latter half of November, I spent a few weeks in the Himalayan and Tibetan region of western China, specifically Yunnan Province. Yunnan Province borders on Tibet and Myanmar. The Province is widely inhabited by people of the Naxi ethnic group, and is known for gorgeous mountain scenery, excellent pu’ehr tea (from tea plants over 100 years old), yak meat, yak milk, yak milk cheese, Naxi wood carvings, Naxi music, and Naxi embroidery. The yak milk cheese is really delicious. Strictly in terms of scenery, you can think of Yunnan as basically a landlocked Chinese Alaska.
China is a country of hundreds of local languages, in addition to the national language of Mandarin. And, interestingly, the Naxi people have the only hieroglyphic language still in use in the world today! Signs in the Province are often written in both traditional Mandarin Chinese and in Dongba, the Naxi hieroglyphic language.
As my base for exploring Yunnan Province, I stayed mostly in the gorgeous ancient town of Lijiang, and took day trips and overnight trips to other areas of the province, including Shangri-la ancient town, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Baisha ancient town, Pudacuo National Park, and Blue Moon Valley. I spent the majority of my time walking the beautiful streets of Lijiang and Shangri-La, and hiking Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Pudacuo National Park, and Blue Moon Valley. I also spent a couple of days in the small Naxi village of Baisha.
During my time in Yunnan, I think a saw about five or so westerners, and none of them were American. Yunnan is mainly a travel destination for the Chinese. And Yunnan Province is at the top of my list for the most stunning and unique scenery I have ever come across in all of my travels (over 40 countries and counting). In particular, Blue Moon Valley is a place that simply must be seen to be believed!
I have traveled repeatedly to China since 1995 (seven separate trips), yet this was my first trip to Yunnan Province. I should have gone long ago! If you ever have the opportunity to travel to China, do not make the same mistake that I did, that is, putting off Yunnan Province! If you ever go to China, be sure to get to Yunnan!!!! Trust me!!
Getting back to Lijiang. This main purpose of this post is to feature images of Lijiang ancient town, my base for exploring Yunnan. I’ll soon provide separate posts for Shangri-la, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Pudacuo National Park, and Blue Moon Valley.
Lijiang is just about the prettiest town I have ever seen. The ancient architecture within the backdrop of Himalayan scenery is just amazing. Lijiang has a history of more than 1,000 years and dates back as far as the Song Dynasty. Incredibly, the town is situated at the juncture of the Jade River and three separate streams, and waterways and canals were cut to flow alongside the streets – an amazing exposition of ancient civil engineering amidst the high mountains.
When China loosened it’s visa policy during the 1980s, and instituted national economic reforms, local people opened restaurants, cafes, hotels, and other businesses, as foreigners and Chinese outsiders began discovering Lijiang. Today, many domestic TV shows and movies are filmed in Lijiang, making it a very popular vacation destination for people from all over China.
The people of Lijiang are gracious, friendly, and kind. The town is beautiful, the food is delicious, and the surrounding countryside is stunning. I always felt at home. The Chinese government has given me a 10-year visa (with unlimited entires)! So, who knows, maybe I’ll return to live there for a while 🙂
Lijiang’s culture is a combination of traditional Naxi culture and the widespread Chinese Han culture. Interestingly, the Naxi people continue to build their houses from timber and mud brick, as they have for nearly a thousand years. The local Naxi carpenters build the elaborate houses from memory without any blueprints or diagrams. The houses always have intricate flower and bird carvings on the windows, which are made by ethnic artisans. Even very poor farming families save their money to have the carved windows. The window panels are also available for sale to tourists.
For your viewing pleasure, below is a gallery of my images of Lijiang. The gallery consists of photos from throughout the town of Lijiang. If there is something of special note for a photo, I have included a caption. The photos without captions are typical scenes of Lijiang. I’ve also included a few images of the tiny ethnic village of Baisha, located about 12 kilometers from Lijiang. I rode a bicycle through the countryside from Lijiang to visit Baisha for a day.
And, remember, clicking on any of the photos in my posts brings about a more enhanced and larger and brighter image of the photo. Be sure to scroll down and check them out. There are a lot of photos (about 50), but check them out. Lijiang is so interesting, I found it hard to pare back on the number of photos. Be sure to click on the ones you find most interesting!
Finally, as a reminder, if you scroll to the very end of this post, there is (as in all my posts) an area to leave comments or ask me any questions that you may have. As always, I would love to hear from you.