Yunnan Tour – Shangrila to Lijiang Day 7 (11 Days 10 Nights November 2015)

We woke up to another freezing morning in Shangrila. After a quick breakfast, we got ourselves ready to check out. We had already packed the night before so it was trouble free as we went down to our familiar lobby to process our check out. We also returned the oxygen canister the hotel loaned us for standby and we didn’t use. Xiao Long, the hotel manager was already waiting to give us a ride to the bus station. Having settled our outstanding bills, we left with Xiao Long who helped us with our luggage.

Once outside Bodhi Inn, it was still the same dilapidated streets under going reconstruction work and we had to watch our steps not to step into mud along the way to the main road. While walking out, the hotel van was no where to be seen. But as we continued walking out, the van appeared and Tashi, the owner of Bodhi Inn was reversing the van nearer for us to get in. So we had less walking to do and we got into the van after exchanging greetings with Tashi.

It was a pleasure staying at Bodhi Inn. The staff were really friendly, helpful and with English speaking staff, it made our stay a lot more pleasant and enjoyable. The hotel was playing Tibetan chants but when they realized we were English speaking, they switched to English music to make us feel at home. The reconstruction work outside and around Bodhi Inn wasn’t their fault. They had made everything possible to make our stay a great one. The day trip arranged by Bodhi Inn was value for money where we had the opportunity to head up to Shika Snow Mountain at over 4500 m elevation.

Xiao Long took over the wheel and soon we were on our way out of the Old Town. It was a cold morning even though the sun was out. But once inside the van, we were rather comfortable. In about 15 minutes, we arrived at the bus station. We alighted, took our bags and thanked Xiao Long for his excellent service. Bodhi Inn provides free shuttle between the airport and bus station to the hotel. Xiao Long could be reached at 13187481010 for shuttle transfer for those staying at Bodhi Inn.

The bus station was already very busy though it was just near 8 am. Food vendors were selling hot food outside the bus station. We entered the bus station and it was a busy place. It was a good idea we bought our bus tickets when we arrived Shangrila 2 days ago otherwise we would have to stress ourselves over this matter first thing in the morning. Since we had our tickets with us, we simply waited for our time to head out to board the bus.

Not long after, our departure for Lijiang was called and we went out of the bus station and boarded a big bus that looked rather new. Inside the bus was clean and very spacious. The seats were comfy and seemed to be rather new too. Once on board we settled down to wait for the bus to leave Shangrila. The front panel of the bus showed a negative 4 degree Celsius inside the bus and of course we were wearing winter clothes to keep warm. The engine wasn’t turned on yet so there was no heating inside the bus.

Soon, more passengers came on board and then the bus driver came up to check our tickets. Having checked he had all the passengers on board, he took the wheel and we were on our way out of Shangrila. The heater soon took effect and we took off our cold wear. It was a sunny day and quite picturesque as we passed through the grassland on the way out of Shangrila City. Along the way, the driver stopped to pick up a cowboy and another local passenger who were sitting below with the driver as they hitched a ride out of town. They alighted along the way before we were completely out of Shangrila.

So we sat back to enjoy our ride recollecting our time spent in Shangrila. If altitude sickness wasn’t a problem, we would have enjoyed ourselves more. The reconstruction works outside and around Bodhi Inn also somewhat hindered our hangout over at the Old Town. Anyway, Shangrila was one of our highlights in our Yunnan tour.

The bus drove down the mountain passing the same scenic route we took here. We passed mountain roads that were very well paved with few vehicles on the road. Having gotten down much further, we saw the same river and flowing rapids from the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Having reached the small town for those who were visiting the Gorge, some passengers alighted and other passengers boarded the bus. So we moved on and not long after, the bus stopped for a break and it was barely 10.30 am.

It was the same place we had our break on the way here overlooking a river and mountains in the distance. The toilet and smoke break didn’t take too much time. So we were on our way down to Lijiang after a couple of minutes. It was a very enjoyable ride passing scenic places but we didn’t take pictures this time. This allowed us to really relax and feast our eyes throughout the ride.

Finally, we arrived Lijiang and it was just slightly after noon time. Coming down from Shangrila seemed to be faster. So once again, we went back into the bus station after collecting our bags. We queued to buy our bus tickets to head down to Dali in another two days’ time. This would save us time and the hassle when we depart for Dali after spending two nights here in Lijiang.

Once done, we headed out of the bus station and took a taxi to head to our much expected 5 star hotel, Pullman Lijiang Rseort and Spa. It wasn’t very far out of town. In under 15 minutes, we arrived at this modern and grand resort where we would be spending two nights under the Accor Group. The hotel staff immediately came over to help us with our bags as he ushered us into this very nice resort lobby to process our check in.

As we were Accor members, we were treated very well. The staff here were very professional, English speaking and very friendly and helpful. There was very little doubt this property was of a different class. It was such a joy and relief to enter this resort. The resort was rather quiet though and we found out that it was the low season of the year in November, which was great for us. We had requested for a room with the mountain view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

A few minutes later, we were escorted to our room by one of the hotel staff. Once we entered our room, we were greeted with a very long room with a balcony outside the bedroom with the unmistakable view of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. It was such a treat to stay here to unwind and this would no doubt be the place for us to recuperate from altitude sickness from Shangrila.

After the entrance of the room was the wardrobe on the side wall with the bathroom and toilet on the other side. In the middle of the room was a very clean and nice bathtub where the view of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain could be seen if the curtains were not drawn.

After this area was the bedroom proper with a huge, clean and very comfy king bed. Across the wall was a large TV and table top. Mineral water and even a coffee maker was provided. Welcome fruits were also given. The length of the room was long and the area of the whole room was significant.

Outside the balcony was no doubt a great place to relax with the magnificent view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Below the balcony were many villas landscaped with beautiful plants and shrubs full of lavenders. We had never seen so many lavenders before. Years ago we tried driving up and down Tasmania to look at lavender farms but were disappointed as we went during its off season.

From the balcony, we could see that Pullman Lijiang Resort was really huge. We were really delighted to be here. TV had quite a number of programs and wifi was excellent. Having checked our room and were more than pleased with everything, it was time to head to the restaurant for a good lunch.

It was just a few minutes walk to the restaurant. We were warmly welcomed once we arrived. It was low season so we were the only guests having lunch there. My dear wife ordered soup noodle while I ordered pasta. Bread were served and these were quality bread. We really enjoyed the bread and soon our food came. The lunch was really good, especially we had eaten so little while up in Shangrila, where we had a plate of French fries for dinner the night before. My wife was back to here happy soul again clearly indulging in the quality food here in this 5 star property.

Outside the restaurant was an oasis of calm with a beautiful pond in a garden setting with mountains as its background. The waitress told us we could take some bread to feed the fish after lunch. So we had this great lunch enjoying the beauty of the outdoor setting.

After lunch, we were given bread, the same quality bread to feed the fish in the pond outside the restaurant. It was a very sunny day so it wasn’t cold at all. The surrounding trees had adorned its majestic colours of autumn and the pond was a centre piece of decoration here with fish swimming leisurely. The air here was so fresh and all our weariness and headaches were all gone in a moment. It was really therapeutic under such a scenic environment and we surely didn’t need blood pressure medication.

The fish came swimming towards us as we approached the pond as if they were conditioned to received food. So we threw them small pieces of bread at a time and we enjoyed this simple lovely activity feeding these beautiful koi in the pond. A few ducks were in the pond as well. It was such a lovely sight with the majestic Jade Dragon Snow Mountain complementing this part of the scenic site blending nature with human design of an oasis for man and creatures.

We went back into the restaurant for more bread and the wait staff were more than happy to provide. They must be very happy working here in such a fabulous environment. So we spent quite a bit of time feeding the fish and unwind. The weather was great and the site here was excellent. We were the only guests here having the entire property to ourselves. There were no noisy guests and rowdy kids running around to disturb the peace so we were really blessed to have such a great place to relax and while away our time.

When we had finished a few rounds of bread feeding those lovely fish and ducks, we returned to our gorgeous room. What luxury to be given such a beautiful room with the majestic mountain view of the attraction here in Lijiang. This was really a place to die for to stay here in Lijiang. This reminded us of our time spent in Mount Cook in South New Zealand. We were also given a room with the splendid view of Mount Cook from our room window. A pair of binoculars was provided as well.

So we enjoyed our room and watched TV. We also showed our children pictures of this fantastic property here in Lijiang. Pullman Lijiang Resort was indeed outstanding. This was definitely the right choice for us to stay here in Lijiang. This property was so good that there was no incentives for us to explore outside this amazing resort. It was so relaxing and comfortable so why would we want to stress ourselves with other sites which might not provide the same level of enjoyment?

However, there was an Ancient Town nearby and Pullman Lijiang Resort would provide a horse cart to send us there. So we called reception to make a booking later in the afternoon to head out to visit this Unesco Ancient Town nearby. Meanwhile, we simply plunged ourselves into the luxury of our room where we were freed from cold, headache and nausea that we experienced up in Shangrila. The bathtub was put to good use with plenty of hot water without the freezing cold in the room. The sight of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain was a bonus.

Nearer to 5 pm, we headed back to the hotel lobby to wait for the horse cart from Pullman Resort. Soon, one of the staff escorted us outdoor and we climbed up this nice ancient looking horse cart. In another moment, we were riding our way towards the Lijiang Shuhe Ancient Town. It was a long stretch of road along Shuhe Road with very few vehicles on the road.

In under 10 minutes, we arrived at the entrance of this ancient town. We alighted outside the town and walked towards the entrance. Visitors were entering and leaving from this entrance. We went in and there was no one to collect entrance fee. A very nice pond greeted us after entering into the ancient town. Beautiful reflections of the surrounding trees could be seen on the still water of this pond.

As we walked on, a soldier statue was guarding this pond and further ahead was a small pavilion for visitors to hang wishes which could be purchased from a vendor over there. The hanging wishes were aplenty and seemed like this was a popular place to start a visit to this ancient town. A small ladder was also provided for visitors to hang whatever they wrote on those pretty little wooden cards.

Next we entered one of the streets ahead where shops were located on both sides. There were food and fruits vendors along the street outside those shops. It seemed we were back in ancient days walking inside this ancient town although we wore modern day clothes. Pretty trees adorn the streets dressed in autumn colours and the weather was great. It wasn’t cold with the sun still up in the sky.

We walked along and browsed some shops and looked at food and fruits on display along the road. The sky was blue and in fact, the moon was already up there clearly seen on this cloudless day. So we passed by shops, cafes and inns as we walked along. It was so lovely out here with occasional horses riding along the street like in ancient time.

Further along, we even came across the unmistakable MacDonald’s Restaurant. Western imperialism no doubt had made it into this ancient world this part of town. Surely this would provide comfort for some so familiar with such restaurants and their pretty standard food servings. After this were more shops and streets to explore as we continued walking and enjoying this nice stroll in Shuhe Ancient Town. Along the way, we came across a horse rider who so happily turned his head to allow us to take his picture. The friendliness of the people here was evident.

Soon we reached the town square that was not crowded. Horses and horse carts were stationed here waiting for tourists to hire them. An ancient music hall was there apparently very quiet this hour of the day. Performances at the square seemed to take place in the evening. So meanwhile, this pretty square was simply basking in sunshine waiting for her time to shine.

We entered another street with more shops and street vendors. Quite frankly we didn’t know where we were heading. We weren’t even worried if we were lost in this lovely town under the nice warm autumn sun. It was a nice venture around town and we just soaked in all the sights and smell of the place and of course the air here was fresh under the clear blue sky. No smog and no haze to dampen our visit here in Shuhe Ancient Town and we were certainly delighted.

Next we entered a place surrounded by cafes and restaurants with a lovely stream running in the middle with elevated wooden platforms served as walk way. Waitresses in traditional costumes were standing outside soliciting business for the restaurants. It was a lovely sight too. The stream was calm and so the reflections on the water was pretty. There were fish in the stream as well and the water looked very clean but the water could be quite cold.

Many of the establishments here had live musicians to provide diners a wonderful dining experience. There was still daylight when we were there and the ambiance was nice. It would be more lovely and romantic during the evening when the lights were out under this pleasant autumn sky. This place was perhaps the most lovely part of the ancient town.

We walked into another street to continue our stroll. It was another enjoyable window shopping stroll along the way until we caught sight of a bakery. We wasted no time to head in to look for cakes and such for supper and breakfast for the next day. This bakery had an English name, England Time, and the variety of bread and pastries was good. Upstairs served as a café but we only bought some bakery items for ourselves to enjoy in our wonderful room back in Pullman Lijiang Resort as a nice coffee maker with coffee capsules were provided.

After this we continued our walk and we traced our way back to the main entrance. In fact, we didn’t manage to cover the entire ancient town this late afternoon. It was the same lovely scene as we made our way out. This ancient town here was more authentic with people living inside this town much like the one in Dali. The other main Old Town near Qixing Street we visited when we first arrived in Lijiang three days ago was more commercialized but it was very crowded and pretty at night. It was also much bigger as well.

Eventually, we made it back to the same entrance. We exited the entrance and walked along the road back towards Pullman Lijiang Resort. It was 6.35 pm and the sun was about to set. The moon was up in the sky and light was fading as night approached. It was just a straight road back to Pullman Resort and we arrived in about 20 minutes.

The resort was a lovely sight as we entered with the lights turned on and the skies turning dark. With apparently no guests around other than ourselves, the whole property was very quiet and peaceful. The fish pond was calm and pretty at night and the courtyard was set up with tables for evening dining but with no diners in sight. The reflections on the pond at night was beautiful still and this whole area was very romantic. The silhouette of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain could be seen in the distance. What a nice place we were given the privilege to enjoy during this November autumn.

We went into the Chinese restaurant as the other restaurant was closed due to low occupancy during this time. We ordered Chinese food and we enjoyed this nice dinner. My wife and I weren’t quite used to the food in Yunnan but the food here in Pullman Lijiang Resort were top notched and we had no problem with the taste or smell. The food was delicious.

We returned to our room after this satisfying dinner. We continued to enjoy our luxurious room watching TV and chatting happily with our children. We were so happy to be back in Lijiang and plunged right back into creature comfort environment. Supper time came and our bakery items were handy with the nice coffee maker put to good use. The coffee was great and so were the pastries.

Hence our trip coming down from Shangrila was trouble free and greeted by the fabulous property here in Lijiang indeed made our day. We would still have another day staying in Pullman Resort before our departure for Dali in two days time. So we tucked into our comfy king bed without the need of electric blanket here as the airconditioning here was good and we soon slipped into dreamland not long after.

Continue to Day 8

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