Old Town Lijiang in Yunnan China

The next leg of our trip in Yunnan Province was further north to Lijiang. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, this town is ready for tourists! At the entrance is a wishing trellis and the world culture wall, then a path leading into the town.

The wishing trellis

The wishing trellis

Lijiang is a UNESCO World Heritage site - this is the Cultural Wall that leads into the pedestrian area.

Lijiang is a UNESCO World Heritage site – this is the Cultural Wall that leads into the pedestrian area.

 

We had enjoyed roaming the streets of Dali’s Old Town and Old Town Lijiang was probably five times larger. And, with that comes an air of over-planning and perhaps too many souvenir stalls. Dried yak meat, embroidered bags, traditional drums, carved wood, coffee, and many restaurants lined the picturesque streets. Still, it’s a treat for us to wander around streets with interesting things to look at – we were still enjoying our break from regular life in Guangzhou. :) Plus, we found some awesome gelato popsicles!

The kids posing with some of the ethnic minority women, who were also there to pose. :)

The kids posing with some of the ethnic Nouso Yi minority women, who were also there to pose. :)

We were quite pleased when our hostess back at the Bivou offered us a “treasure map” of Old Town Lijiang. On it were places she had discovered that were more looked beyond the obvious tourist shops and introduced us to more authentic representations of Chinese culture.

We were first rewarded with a visit to a shopkeeper who demonstrated his perfect Chinese character writing skills – using only the brush he held in his mouth – as he had been born without arms. To my kids, this was a first, tangible look into the triumph of the human spirit.   He, by the way, was also a decorated champion swimmer.

Triumph of the human spirit - a former champion swimmer with no hands creates perfect Chinese calligraphy with this mouth.

Triumph of the human spirit – a former champion swimmer with no hands creates perfect Chinese calligraphy with this mouth.  And he was so pleasant and welcoming to us!

Other places were fun to wander through including a performance hall where musicians make ancient and traditional Chinese instruments come alive.

An orchestral hall where traditional and antique instruments come alive under the talented hands of local musicians.

An orchestral hall where traditional and antique instruments await the talented hands of local musicians.

 

I think this is the classic tourist snapshot of Lijiang, China!

I think this is the classic tourist snapshot of Lijiang! It really is picturesque – all the canals and arched bridges, plus romantic swaying trees and iconic red lanterns.  We really enjoyed visiting this part of China!

Because it sounded fun, we were in search of a specialty bell shop that had been highlighted on the map. Now, this is where the combination of a hand-drawn, artistic map plus memory of the drawer comes into play (and to my friends reading this blog post…..I was not solely in charge of reading the map!).

And so we searched all around for the bell shop. We went farther into the village than we might have and saw fine hand-made umbrellas, bought fresh strawberries, and accidently toured a traditional Chinese hotel with a beautiful rose bush out front. So we found joy in the journey, but we finally gave up to head back to the hotel.

And just as we made our decision to leave, serendipity found us and we walked right up to the elusive and most magical bell shop. Hand crafted little bells with prayers, scenery and poems dangling from the clappers. Beautiful tintinnabulations, incredible art and a willingness to let our children ring a few!  And there’s a fantastic story about how these bells were used on the centuries old Yunnan-Tibet Tea-horse Road by on a horse carrying Bunong.  Over time and with a few interludes with Buddha, these bells have come to be known the world over and to bring luck and happiness.

Butong Bell Shop in Old Town Lijiang - beautiful!

Bunong Bell Shop in Old Town Lijiang – beautiful!

Beautiful tones from hand crafted bells.

Beautiful tones from hand crafted bells.

Lijiang_Old_Town_2015_09

Lovely roof lines made of grey tiles and lovely white walls in this picturesque Chinese town.

Old Town Lijiang

Our dear friends in Old Town!

The most amazing, hand made, delicate Chinese parasols.

The most amazing, hand made, delicate Chinese parasols.

Lovely old hotel nestled in between the canals of Old Town Lijiang. We loved the pink roses in bloom everywhere!

Lovely old hotel nestled in between the canals of Old Town Lijiang. We loved the pink roses in bloom everywhere!

Fresh strawberries while wondering around the alleys of Old Town Lijiang.

Fresh strawberries while wondering around the alleys of Old Town Lijiang.

Love my girl!

Love my girl!

I love the local Chinese baby backpack carriers! So beautiful!

I love the local Chinese baby backpack carriers! So beautiful!

About 

Currently, I’m globetrotting with my family as my husband is a Vice Consul with the United States Foreign Service.

Our first post was Recife, PE, Brazil, and we arrived in August 2010. Upon arrival, our daughter had just turned four and our superbaby son had just turned three months.

During the summer of 2013, our family of four moved to Guangzhou, China, for a two-year post. Our daughter is seven and our son is three.

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