Walking Tour Around Lijiang

31st August 2017

Black Dragon Pool ParkMusicians playing The next day began with more wandering around the streets as we headed for the Black Dragon Pool Park, which is the water source for the Old Town. The park was built in 1737 and is a popular place to visit for locals and tourists alike. The skies were still grey and the 13 snow topped mountains remained firmly hidden behind the clouds. No iconic photo for us today.

Tai Chi demonstrationThe pavilions, bridges and walkways were enough to keep us clicking away adding to our growing number of photos. We always like finding an archway or spray of branches to frame a photo. The locals meet up for their daily exercises moving to canned music, all copying their teacher. Other more adventurous individuals practice their Tai Chi moves, while the musicians fill the pavilion playing their three string guitars and other instruments. The instruments may look odd to us but the sound is good. No time to join in though.

Naxi symbolsIt is, however, time for a history lesson as we wandered around the Naxi Dongba Cultural Museum. We had spotted the Naxi symbols around town next to the Chinese script and already had learnt that they had their own pictorial language. The Dongba religion is an amalgamation of Tibetan Buddhism, Islam and Talisman. There are only a few Dongba Priests remaining who can read and write the script but hopefully through the museum and historical interest this will be kept alive.

Puji TempleAs we meander back for an early lunch hoping the clouds will clear for a trip to the Puji Temple this afternoon. The clouds remain but at least the rain stays away as we head out of town along a road which climbs up into the hillside. It almost peters out before ending at a small temple where we are the only visitors. The resident monks are welcoming and we wander around now being used to seeing the prayer wheels and bell tower.

Colourful Buddhist prayer flagsWhat is new to us is all the Tibetan multi-coloured prayer “flags”, each with the printed words of the Buddhist religion (the wind can then read the words on the flag and even the illiterate can say their prayers). On researching the temple later, I am not convinced we visited the right Puji Temple as the one in the itinerary was on a lake. We’re not too unhappy as It was pretty enough and very untouristy, which we like.

Guitar practiceAs if we have not walked enough this week (approx 20k steps a day) we head off down a little path and end up in a local village. When we hear music we follow our noses and get Teddy, our guide to ask if we can enter the private house and listen to the playing. They were welcoming and intrigued by these Westerners turning up out of the blue, but were happy for us to take photos.

All dressed up for a photoBack into town we wander through yet more streets and we are not the only ones taking photos. Another common activity is to hire local costumes to dress up for photos. The Old Town makes a lovely backdrop. It was then off for our final meal with Teddy before we move on to Xi’an in the morning. It is a local hotpot comprising of big bowl of stew, well broth with chunks of meat on the bone and vegetables, on a burner. Further raw vegetables are provided for us to throw in and watch them cook. Not as tasty as the one we had with Rob in Taiwan.

Relaxing on our hotel roof terraceYunnan is an interesting introduction to China and we feel that having our own guide was a good call, as we would never have managed the transport and food on our own. This is because the culture, language and the script is all so different to any of our other travels.

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