Once we’d taken the decision not to go through Laos to Vietnam, we had a couple of days to spare before we wanted to leave China, so from Kunming we took a bus up to Lijiang, an old town on the ancient tea horse route to Tibet and beyond.
This is a beautiful part of the world, watched over by snowy mountain peaks, even though it is not very high altitude itself.
I guess in the high season Lijiang would be swarming with tourists, but for our visit in early November, it was pretty quiet relative to the big cities we’d been to in China. And we came away with a very positive image of the place.
It’s probably very gimmicky, but we were rather enchanted by the number of local girls posing for pics in the ethnic Naxi costumes. These girls would pop up all over Lijiang in pretty spots, so they may not have posed for us, but they made great pics anyway.
We also took a rattly old local bus the 12kms to the village of Baisha (great value bus fares, by the way, at about 10p for the long ride out there).
Baisha is famous for its frescoes, dating back hundreds of years.
But it also has an embroidery institute which drew us in. We watched the girls working away, and were told of how some were students, some teachers, some masters, with the masters’ work costing upwards of several thousand pounds.
We opted for a beautiful piece done by one of the students working in front of us – she seemed pretty pleased with our choice.
And one last mention for our B&B/hostel in Lijiang. Outside the old town so less noisy, the October Inn is a beautiful spot (if you can find it), where owner Tom makes dinner every evening and wows everyone with his culinary delights.