After a few nights in Dali we moved onto Lijiang, it was only a few hours by train but a bit of rain inevitably caused a delay so a 2 hour journey ended up being about 6 hours in total! Once we arrived we grabbed a taxi to our hostel and were warned in an email that many drivers don't like the final drop up the hill... we found one of those drivers, although the final walk wasn't too bad and we made it in the end!
The hostel was really cool, bit like a little mountain retreat. Really cool decor, a lodge type feel to the communal/ dining area and quirky little rooms. The hostel owner also had 3 crazy dogs running around and a big American guy helping him. It was a good balance and made you feel at home straight away.
The first night we met a few guys, played cards and had a mix of imported European beer and home brew local rice wine... A recipe for disaster! The next morning we weren't feeling great after about a 4am finish but it was a funny night and we headed out anyway.
The main attraction for the city was a 3 days trek along the Tiger Leaping Gorge, we had a few days to mooch around before this as well.
On the first morning, the day prior to the trek I slipped on some wet cement, twisted my ankle but didn't think anything of it and went for lunch. Lunch was recommended as a local speciality of meat broth with rice, the taste was fine but we literally cannot understand how the locals enjoy eating fatty meat so much! In the west it would be sent back, but rich or poor, the locals love it...
That afternoon we hiked up to one of the hills overlooking the huge city and old town, also at the bottom it brought you to the Dragon Pool lake which gave cool views of the snow mountain in the distance. However... At this point my foot I twisted earlier started to niggle and within about 15 minutes I couldn't even walk on it! A tiny bit of pressure literally left me nearly in tears! Not a good sign for a mammoth 3 day trek the following morning.
We hobbled through town and after much time and sitting, I hopped up to the hostel, literally! With many strange looks from the locals on the way. The only plus side was the shop I found that sold dried yak meat, so good!
The next day we delayed our trek and my foot had massively improved. We took a bus to a local old mountain village that kept some of the charm lost in the main old town of Lijiang. Also the old town in Lijiang charges about £9 just to enter and see the shops and restaurants so we swerved it until the 8pm time when the area is opened for free. The old town in Lijiang was fine but it lost a lot of the charm of an old town because of the hordes of tourists. All there was in town was shops and restaurants so we didn't miss much, defiantly worth just heading in after the 8pm opening. After seeing Dali it also wasn't as picturesque either.
The following day we booked the hike and luckily my foot was ok. The coach took around 2 hours to arrive at the start and we planned on spacing the hike over 3 days, sticking to the high path. The hike was amazing, views were stunning, it was hard in places (especially the section of 28 uphill bends!) and flattened out in others. The gorge is one of the deepest in the World, it's reputed to be the deepest but we think it's the Colca Canyon in Peru, another we'd been to on our travels!
The first night we stopped in a place called Naxi Guesthouse and second, Half Way house, both really cool places to stay, especially Naxi as we basically had our own run of a remote mountain guest house. The hills were rolling for miles and covered in thick green forest. At the start a quarry took some of the views away but in a country as crazily building and developing as China, it's a surprise so much of the countryside is still intact. We had to walk along thin rocky paths and even through fast flowing waterfalls, great trek! The weather held up as well, aside from a torrential downpour but only at night once we'd stopped for the evening.
On the final day we headed back to Lijiang, found a great little restaurant in town serving really good western food and spent the evening and following day just relaxing... Also thinking of more treks we could do at home and speaking to the very well travelled American guy who works at the hostel giving us tips for the future!
A great stop in Lijiang, nice town and one of the best hikes yet! Onto Chengdhu after and the Giant Panda's!