Friday 13 May Lijiang

We woke this morning to blue sky with some clouds that soon turned to an overcast day. We had a relaxed breakfast with a late start, meeting the others at 9.30am.
We visited Black Dragon Pool Park (Heilongton Park) which is also known as Jade Spring Park, which was built in 1737 at the foot of Elephant Hill. The front gate of the park had a grand decorated archway and we walked along a colourful cobbled path, stopping to take photos of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, which was partially covered in clouds. The park is beautifully maintained with lots of garden beds and trees and shrubs that droop to the water’s edge.
The Black Dragon Pool inside the park covers an area of 40,000 square metres and is said to be as clean as jade, reflecting the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
We wandered through the park and stopped at an area where some older men had brought their birds to the park and had hung them in a tree and then sat chatting under the trees. We also some people hitting a shuttlecock backwards and forwards to each other – they were very good and hit it many times before one of them missed.
We came across three elderly ladies sitting on a bench and Sandy said hello to them in Naxi language and they were smiling broadly at her when our local guide, Cindy turned around to discover that one of them was her 80 year old Aunt. We chatted to the ladies via Cindy and she was telling us that the ladies come to the park for exercise and so we asked them to come and dance with us. The ladies led us to a grassy area and then they taught us a local dance and we tried to sing along with their local song that went with the dance. The ladies were delighted with our attempts and were laughing along with us, so one of our group decided we should teach them the hokey pokey, which we did, and they joined in, with much laughter. Cindy’s Aunt told her to tell us that she has never been able to travel to other countries and certainly never to Australia and that she feels very happy that we have come to her country and that she was able to dance with us here. We eventually said our goodbyes to the three ladies and continued our walk around the Park, with everyone having thoroughly enjoyed our time with the three ladies.
As we continued our slow walk through the park, we came across a beautiful Naxi girl, in traditional Naxi costume, sitting in a tree blowing a leaf musically, and also some people doing muscle exercise with a bat and ball – the object was to move the bat around in a pattern without dropping the ball.
We saw the Deyue Pavilion in the centre of the pool and a beautiful white marble bridge, the Suocui Bridge that connects it to the bank. The pavilion, which was built in 1876 is used as a research institution now.

We also walked over the Five Arch Bridge and were able to take lots of photos of the various pavilions and beautiful views of the park.

From the park we were taken to the Lijiang Old Town and we were treated to a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, which was interesting. They explained about the local tea, how best to brew and drink the tea and then we got to taste it – it was quite different.

We were then taken to the Naxi Family Café for another traditional Chinese meal – 10 of us sat around a table sharing the dishes that were provided, chatting and enjoying each others’ company.

After lunch, we explored the ancient town of Lijiang, which was listed as a World Cultural Heritages site by UNESCO in 1997. The Old Town was once the center of the city and continues to maintain the original flavor of the local lifestyle, the typical local architecture and the cultural heritage of the region. At the entrance to the Old Town was an old wooden waterwheel, which appeared to provide water for the canal that ran beside the main street. We spent a couple of hours wandering through the cobblestoned streets, looking at the various shops. We ended up in the main square and once again watched the locals singing and dancing and enjoying life. We had a latte with some of our fellow travellers in McDonalds! before returning to the hotel.

We enjoyed a non-Chinese dinner with our new friends, Anna and Chris, at the hotel Lakeside Restaurant. We chatted and laughed, telling each other travel tales.
We have thoroughly enjoyed our day in Lijiang.

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