Sunday, December 14, 2008

Old town, airbrushed

Lijiang, in northern Yunnan province, is known mostly for its preserved Old Town. It's a maze of narrow cobblestoned streets with courtyard houses, crisscrossed with canals and cute stone bridges, and very easy to get lost in.There's a great market just south of Old Town, and the place is beautifully lit up at night. But it's also cheek to jowl tourists and most of the houses are now shopfronts selling all sorts of tacky souvenirs so it feels airbrushed and not quite authentic. It does have excellent clean public toilets though! And the nightlife is hopping!I cycled north of town for a few hours, visiting a village called Baisha which has become famous for a man called Dr Ho who is a physician of herbal medicine. He's been featured in all sorts of international documentaries, including Michael Palin's "Himalaya" and will happily show you all his business cards from his visitors. But he's also completely down to earth and a genuine healer, I particularly liked his "healthy tea", which he gave me a sample of. But Baisha too is scattered with rather pushy shopowners wanting you to buy their souvenirs. It was time to head off to a less touristed town and chill out.

More photos of Lijiang and Baisha

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