The Great Wall and beyond
Yesterday I hiked the great wall. 10,000 steps, nearly 8 miles, of some of the most intense climbing I have ever experienced. I met a guide/con-artist who was actually really great, she was essentially Mongolian, but from a tribe that wound up as she said “on the right side of the wall” and thus became one of China’s many minority populations. In China, as most people know, Han Chinese the “Chinese Chinese” or “real Chinese” can only have one child. However, people of the minority groups are encouraged to have as many children as they can, such that they can create people for the Han Chinese to see on Holiday…
Alright, that was a little nasty. But I just flew into a town called Lijiang. Lijiang is like EpcotCenter. It is a make believe land of Naxi indigenous people. Essentially what Lancaster is to the Amish, there are Amish there, but they are casually skirting the tourist hell that is Lancaster. The Chinese come here on holiday to stare at the Naxi, and buy lots of allegedly Naxi stuff. There was at one time an Old Town of Lijiang. It, however, fell down in an earthquake. So the Chinese, ever the entrepreneurs, rebuilt it. In the same spot. Only now it is all guesthouses that look like the one I am staying in (see pictures soon I hope) eateries and shops. Thousands and Thousands and Thousands of Shops. I can barely explain just how many shops there are. It is Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, OceanCity, Lancaster & New Hope COMBINED! There are a few bright spots. One is the tower where you can see the whole city, old & new, from above. The other is the market. The market is amazing. I had the best potato chips ever, freshly fried and coated with freshly ground chilies. I also had squid on a stick & a pineapple that was delicious but that I am afraid may give me dysentery. There is also a live animal market. It was fascinating. I won’t go into detail for those of you I know do not want to know… Lijiang itself is a valley surrounded by all sides by mountains, it appears to be a thriving ‘small’ city, perhaps the size of Wilmington, with the fake “OldCity” in the middle. It also is surrounded by beautiful agriculture, including rice paddies and rapeseed in full bloom. The whole valley can’t be more than 40 miles long by 20 miles wide, and really does seem like a tiny paradise. Problem is of course, like all of China it is host to significant industry and thus significant pollution which gets trapped in the valley. Don’t get me wrong it is 10000 time better than Beijing.
After several hours of wandering I decided to try some traditional Naxi food. (I had a Big Mac for dinner last night, so I was feeling like I needed to make up for it.) I found a place with a picture menu (woot!) So for dinner I had traditional naxi pork with mushroom(yummy), Bee Larvae(nutty), fried tiny fish(salty), fried dragon fly larvae (tastes like nothing, but looks scary as hell) and meal worms(yuck!). Pictures soon to come, I promise!
Tomorrow, I want to see the glacier (southernmost one in the world!) We’ll see if my Mandarin is good enough to get me there, and home, in one piece!