Lijiang had been lovely, but soon it was time to bid farewell to the old town and to Mama Naxi, proprietor of our hostel. We couldn't quite make up our minds about Mama - she was an aggressive businesswoman, happy to assist you only if it benefited her, but also friendly and sweet and hardworking. She's on the left here, flanked by her equally hard-working staff. (Naxi or Nakhi is the name of one of the many Chinese ethnic minorities.)
We were ready to set off for our main adventure, which was hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge. Unfortunately, one of the Lijiang eateries had not been kind to Nick's stomach, so he spent a good portion of the hike feeling ill. He was a trooper, though, and we all took it slowly and enjoyed the scenery. We had also picked up a Brit at this point, a very nice guy named Chris, who joined us for the multi-day hike. The scenery was spectacular.
The toughest part of the hike was something called the 28 Bends. It's a very steep incline that has many twists and turns (28, in fact) up to the top. I had heard so much about it from friends that I mentally prepared for the worst. But in the end, I had built my expectations up so much that when I was almost finished, I thought we hadn't even started it! (Not that it was easy, don't get me wrong). It was immensely satisfying, despite being out of breath most of the time.
Me on the mountaintop with "Portraits of Chinese Women in Revolution," a terrific book that Amy Jo gave me.