Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Clampets go to Yunnan!

Did I say Clampets? I meant Lewkowitzes :)

After cold Beijing, Adam and I thought his parents might appreciate weather that is a little closer to home, so we planned a short tour of Yunnan Province, in southern China. We took a late flight on Wednesday, spent the night in the capitol (Cathy was such a trooper at the gross "Home Inn"), and took the first flight to Lijiang on Thursday morning. Upon arrival at our beautiful hotel, Adam coordinated a trip to Tiger Leaping Gorge for the morning.

The ride was about 2 hours (after sitting at a mechanic's for 30 min and switching cars/drivers) through spectacular scenery: plenty of rice paddies, small villages, mountains, and the rushing Yangtze River kept us entertained between the snoozing :) Instead of hiking the 18 miles, we opted to walk a gazillion steps, take a lot of pictures, and enjoy the views.
The tiger for whom the gorge is named is on the right.
(Side note: Herman took off his hat for this picture and forgot that his sunglasses were on it. We satisfied ourselves with the notion that they must have followed the tiger and leapt into the gorge...or into the pocket of one of the "guides" begging to carry tired tourists back up the stairs).

The funniest thing is that this was also our driver's first trip to the gorge... evidenced by his traipsing down the steps and taking tons of pictures with us!

It was around this time that Cathy and I realized you can't go to Tiger Leaping Gorge without leaping:
(3rd time's a charm!)
We returned to Old Town Lijiang, wandered around, and then relaxed and recuperated at the hotel. What a change for me and Adam, to be at a nice hotel in China!!

Thursday night also happened to be Lantern Festival, which is held on the 1st full moon of the 1st month of the Lunar Calendar. It's basically the last chance for people to set off fireworks legally, and there were plenty! We weren't sure if the craziness of Old Town at night was due to the festival or tourist season, but it was definitely insane--restaurants noisily competing with their neighbors' music (Lady Gaga remix anyone?), throngs of people on crowded sidewalks and bridges, lots of shopping, and the "delightful" odor of Yak meat around every bend. Red lanterns lit up the town, which was actually a beautiful sight:
Small canals wind through old town.
We escaped the madness by souvenir shopping and laughing at many of the crazy clothes and tschotchkes (sp?) on display. After a not-so-great Chinese lunch, we decided to do western food for dinner; look at that smile on Cathy's face!
(This was obviously before they were out of mango ice cream and brought strawberry fluoride flavor).

It was a lot of fun to travel and sightsee together; Cathy and Herman got a glimpse of what Adam and I have been talking about all these months, and we laughed a lot about the craziness of the day. We went to bed early in preparation for a morning train to Dali...

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