I went to Lijiang some years ago, back then I was still using an analog camera. Lijiang was already very commercialized, while the nearby town Suhe was being constructed to accommodate more tourists. It’s not exaggerating to say there are more tourists than locals in the old town of Lijiang.
My best memory of Lijiang is the sunny weather in winter. It’s always sunny, and the sky is crystal blue, which is uncommon in the forever gray Chengdu, where I used to live. I was able to see the stars when I just got off the plane the first night. They were so bright and low that I felt that if I reached out I could pick them up.
Lijiang is a small town, with nice gray stone paved little lanes, old houses turned into cafes, tea houses, stores, restaurants, as well as bars along little streams. In the afternoon, it’s nice to take a stroll around the town, then sit in one of those places, enjoying the sunshine and a good chat with friends.
Another amazing place to go is the Lashi Lake. You can either take a cab or rent a bike to go there. I especially like to see the trees growing in the water, it just looks so cool. It is also a great place for bird watching, though I don’t remember seeing a lot of birds back then.
I also enjoyed climbing the Lion Mountain, watching Lijiang waking up from the morning fog. The mountain is not very high, and there is a tower on the top. Going there in the early morning is really great as you are unlikely to see swamps of tourists, and as a result you have it all to yourself.
I would love to go back to Lijiang again, although I am also slightly worried that it has become just another new “old town” for tourists. Will the local old ladies still dance for fun or for money? Or have they all been replaced?