I just got back from a weeklong trip to Lijiang and Lashihai, Yunnan, bookended by twenty-four hour train trips in and out (NN–>KMG–>LJ and back). It was partially exhausting, of course, but mostly exhilarating to continue to glimpse and gather an understanding for the countryside of China that lies so dimly in the background of the scaffolding of climbing, modern, bustling cityscapes.
We spent the majority of our time in Shuhe, a small town with a preserved old-timey feel, and home to the Naxi and Mosuo (among other minorities), and a previous stop along the tea route. In my opinion, Shuhe beats neighboring Lijiang’s Old Town, and other similar vibes, like Yangshuo, out of the water. While local friends told us many of the previous residents have moved out of the town, and foreign merchants have crowded in, Shuhe is still without the thundering bars, Western tourists, and ticky-tacking shopping now present in both Lijiang and Yangshuo. Older Naxi women hauled their goods along the cobbled streets, we met a Mosuo woman who sells scarves woven by her minority village members, and prices for food and accommodation were relatively affordable.
I was sold on Shuhe the very first morning, however, when we woke up to the fresh air, mist over the mountains, and stumbled onto the streets in search of breakfast, coming back with simple, delicious fried bread with chili sauce and cold yogurt in glass jars. I really should have taken a photo of this fried bread on the street, because I’ve been unable to find anything like it (locally or online), and the woman appeared to be frying it first and then steaming it in the same tray in which they steam baozi and mantou. I did, however, take a few shots of the town, and my morning coffee which I finagled from the Starbucks instant packets my mother had sent me, and my empty yogurt bottle!
More to come on the rest of the trip, but suffice it say, despite my fears, Lijiang round two, did not disappoint!