For years I’ve wanted to visit Southwest China and Lijiang in particular, but flights here were always so pricey. I finally figured it’s cheaper to fly to Kunming and then take a bus to Lijiang so I could see its UNESCO World Heritage Ancient Town.
N.B. There are no fast trains to Lijiang and the slow trains aren’t much faster than the bus. I wager my bus was cleaner than the train.
The bus station was a bit confusing, but once you get past the noise and construction, getting a ticket is just a matter of showing the clerk the name of your destination in your guidebook, showing your passport and paying. I left from Kunming and the ticket was 217 rob ($32). A friend had taken the bus and suggested it was a pleasant journey as you get to see a lot of mountains, rice terraces and rural homes along the way. That was true, but my bus attendant made sure we sit in our assigned seats. Till I was on the half empty bus I had no idea there were assigned seats. So I was on the aisle the whole way. I could glimpse the scenery, but it’s not a great view. I did get a lot of reading done.
Since I’d taken a photo of the address of my hotel, I thought I it would be easy to get a taxi there. I showed two drivers the enlarged Chinese address and they refused me. The number I had for the hotel didn’t work.
A kind old man with an electric cart wanted to help. I figured he’d has as much trouble as the other two. So I just took out my Lonely Planet and pointed to an address of a hostel near my hotel. I know that the Hostel International staff tend to speak English well. Once there I could walk or get a short taxi ride to the hotel. That plan worked. It took longer and I was tired, but it worked.
Today I’ve spent most of my time exploring Lijiang’s Ancient Town. It’s full of shops, inns, cafés and craft shops. As is often the case most of the shops sell the same goods. I don’t think you’d make much money selling tea, drums, silver or traditional scarves here. The scarves and tea seem good quality, but I’m not in need of either.