We flew to Lijiang across over half of China. Looking through a somewhat clouded landscape at my Eastern Chinese airline window I could see that the flood plains were being left behind for hillier country. We were now entering Yunnan province, described by many as the most varied and the most enticing of all China.
Our destination was Lijiang, a town with a history going back over a thousand years and a former trade centre for both silk and tea. It’s often been described as the most beautiful place in China with its complex system of streets and waterways. Lijiang’s elegant architecture, its inimitable atmosphere, its melting pot of local ethnic groups has earnt it a UNESCO accolade on the world heritage list.
Lijiang is primarily the centre of Nakhi culture and preserves aspects of Chinese art which have vanished from so many other areas. Their wood-carving is second to none and I have never seen such elaborately finished windows. Nakhi people also preserve ancient Chinese music learnt from an influx of players from Nanjing, which I was very keen to hear. They also preserve a pictographic writing system somewhat similar to that of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Lijiang also has the reputed finest view in all China looking toward the famed Jade Dragon Mountain. It’s indeed a crossroad of different cultures and a transitional point towards Tibet.
We arrived in the evening and were only able to catch the town in the twilight. Enough was there to entice us to explore its wonders next morning. We could hardly sleep with anticipation.
As ever our hotel was atmospheric and our multi-plated supper superb.