The exciting stuff to be seen are rarely in the Old Towns. Well, it depends on what one terms as exciting. I see a lot of spitting, tons of horse manure and touristy horse carts choking up the narrow cobblestone streets.
Raised eyebrows at how the locals and domestic tourists navigate the slippery cobblestones in high-heels and platform sneakers. Tourists like us clad in sneakers are still hobbling around precariously. I'm not interested in tea, shawls, combs, or those signature Lijiang flower biscuits (丽江鲜花饼). Zilch. Not really in the habit of buying meaningless souvenirs for friends.
Plenty of humans thronging the shops to buy dunno-what. The tourists here are way better dressed and obviously liking the small-town vibe but city-like offerings in terms of souvenirs to buy home and cafes to chill out at. They even wear those plastic sprouts atop their heads. It's not just a trend in Beijing. Every tourist spot has stalls selling them in Zhongdian and Lijiang. Apparently it's from some cosplay/animated 'Pleasant Goat and The Big Bad Wolf' 《喜羊羊与灰太狼》 that has been censored for being too violent as a children's show. Errrmm....okaay.
Am on my feet loads. Why bother sleeping in when the villages wake up early and there's so much to see and crisp cool fresh air to soak in. Lijiang is much warmer than Zhongdian, but at 18°C to 22°C, it's still lovely. Since the girlfriend is a breakfast person, I follow suit, i.e. wake up and sit down at the breakfast table. But I ate only a quarter of her portions. My stomach isn't awake. Even if I'm not sure of when the next meal is, hunger rarely sets in till late afternoon. Not doing anything much in Lijiang that burns up the calories.
A number of villages around the Old Town and Shuhe actually bothered to pave cobblestones around the area and through the fields, obviously to enable an easier walk for tourists. I'm certainly not complaining because the scenery is still gorgeous. Lijiang is ringed by mountains and that itself presents the perfect backdrop to many photos taken on any sort of gadget. Almost right out of a postcard.
These are not 'fake fields' for tourists to take photos and walk through. These villages are obviously prosperous and their folks would like easier walking paths too. People work on the lands. They're out there farming, with maize and vegetables and bright cheerful rapeseed flowers waving in the breeze. Gave me a chance to capture humans on the camera instead of panoramic scenes. But for the close-ups, gotta ask for permission first lah. Otherwise sure kena scolded.
Quiet mornings. Much to be thankful for.