After Dali, Sarah flew back to Kuala Lumpur to be with her parents and get treatment for her arm. We soldiered on, sadly one member short of our crew. Despite being just as tourist-filled, we ended up liking Lijiang more than Dali. The old town was full of winding, narrow, cobble-stoned streets, with blue skies and snow-capped mountains in the distance. Granted, they had suffered a major earthquake in the past and I think most of the old town was a reconstruction, but I didn't let that stop my imagination from enjoying itself.
In addition to bumming around the town, we took a bicycle ride to Baisha, a small village a few miles away. It probably used to be fairly quiet, but an influx of tourists has created a street full of hawkers and trinkets. Still, we were able to do a bit of exploring on our own.
We also stopped in at a little place where Kim and Nick ordered their favorite dish: egg-and-tomato. Most of my friends like it and it's a pretty popular Chinese meal, but I am not a fan.
One of my favorite parts of Lijiang was just sitting in the center square, writing in my journal, talking to some of the locals, and people-watching in the sunshine. While the throngs of Chinese tourists can be annoying, often I find it interesting. Travel is a luxury and with the rise of the middle class and general standards of living, I imagine domestic tourism is reaching unprecedented levels. (Note: I have zero statistics to back this up). Anyway, I enjoyed hanging out and absorbing the scene. Also, as this province is the home to many of China's ethnic minorities, there is a large focus on that part of the culture for the benefit of tourists, such as these women folk dancers in the square: