Food and fun in Lijiang, China
Lijiang, Yunnan Province, China
Lijiang, in the mountains of Yunnan: a beautiful old town with streams running through it, very friendly people (mostly from the Naxi minority group), lots of cafes serving great food, loads of Chinese tourists from the big cities all talking on their cellphones, and a guide called Lewu.
This was also the only time in China I had food that was too hot to finish. I ordered Dan Dan noodles, since I had made them many times at home. They tasted wonderful: smoky and rich, with varied textures and different kinds of hot. My tongue tingled, then my nose started running, then my cheeks started hurting and my eyes began to water. It was a transcendental experience, but I couldn’t complete it. My waitress laughed, and I laughed with her!
An hour’s drive from Lijiang, in the town of Shigu, there’s a great statue overlooking the Yangtze, commemorating the time when Mao’s Long March crossed the river there. Look for the statue of the Stone Drum, and take the long stone path with steps up the hill. If a woman stops you and asks if you “want a rest”, don’t hurry on, but tell her “wor huan cheh fun” which means ‘I want to eat a meal’. She will take you through her courtyard into her kitchen, then pull food out of her refrigerator for you to choose. In 20 minutes, you will have one of the best meals of your life, cooked by her teenage daughter-in-law, for about five bucks.
I also went up into a hill village close by, where I visited with my taxi driver’s family (who killed and disemboweled a chicken for me) and got to teach English to the Naxi kids in the primary school! English is their third language (their first is Naxi) and they had never seen anyone from a big city in China, let alone a fat foreigner in a funny shirt (me). They didn’t know whether to hide from me or touch me. The English teacher was thrilled to have me there, and I ended up teaching and singing with the kids for the whole afternoon. Great experience.