The hostel was nice, with a small courtyard and a clean room. It was cold at night as in the rest of places of China but here the Internet connection was great! Can you imagine? Normal and fast internet in China! Unfortunately we didn't have much time for internet as we were only staying two nights, so we could only upoad a few pictures.
We started walking a bit and yes, the first good impression was confirmed. Lijiang is beautiful. It is full of tourists, souvenir shops, restaurants, bars... so imagine how beautiful it is that even with all these we like it. It was Saturday that day and at night, it gets quite crazy, The buildings in the market square are most of them restaurants/bars and at night they transform into nightclubs. And it is quite surreal. Every bar has a singer surrounded by dancers and people are seating in the tables and clapping, waving balloons or making noises. Outside the bars, the touts try to lure you to go inside. If you decide to go in, you can have a table, beers and whatever you want while enjoying the surreal show, but at really expensive prices.
Last thing we did before going back to the hostel was trying to find a place to eat. There are a lot of them but we just opted for a small restaurant close to the hostel and we had some noodles and a beer. End of the day!
This meant we had to shorten a bit the days in Yunnan and book a trip back to Chengdu to be there on the 8th. So, instead of visiting Lijiang, the morning was devoted to go first to the bus station and then to the train station. After comparing prices, times and everything, we booked a 24-hour bus direct from Lijiang to Chengdu. And this time it was not going to be a sleeper one but a normal seating bus, so the journey looked like quite painful. The problem was that we had no choice, it was either this bus, a train from another town but standing (all tickets were sold out) or going back to Kunming and then change train there if there were tickets.
Besides the 24-hour bus, we also booked a bus ticket for the following morning to Qiaotou, the town where the Tiger Leaping Gorge starts. We had now still almost all the day to visit Lijiang, so there we went! First we visited the local market, where mostly Naxi woman sell their products.
Besides, we could even try some of the famous Lijiang snacks. I would say they are the Chinese version of Spanish tapas: small portions of different kind of food served either on the street or in special covered restaurants full of "tapas" stalls. And they are really good! Oh, and yes, we also tried some kind of deep-fried grasshoppers for a challenge the students from Barcelona asked me to do.
And so we did. We woke up in the morning, went to the market to buy some food for the bus trip and headed to the bus station. At 12:00 we had a bus going straight to Qiaotou, from where the trekking starts!
The experience in Lijiang was much better than expected. After visiting Dali we thought Lijiang would be really worse. But no, compared to Dali it is a really reccomendable place to visit while in Yunnan. Dali is totally faked, the city has been rebuilt and it has no charm at all. On the other hand, Lijiang is touristry, there are plenty of shops (especially annoying are the shops selling African drums. They are all playing the same music and there's always a brainless person pretending playing the drums. Crazy. And the worse is that there are hundreds of them!), plenty of restaurants... everything aimed at tourists. But still, the town has a lot of charm. All the beautiful buildings, streets, the river... we loved LIjiang!
You can now check our Lijiang Travel Guide and the complete set of pictures!