Monday, February 4, 2008

Lijiang Old Town.

Aerial view of Lijiang Old Town
This is a continuation of my last post on Tiger Leaping Gorge. After our 3 days trek at TLG, we came back to Lijiang old town for 2 more nights. Lijiang old town is the best preserved old town in China and it’s more beautiful than Shangri La old town and Dali old town. Lijiang at 2,400 meters above sea level is blessed with clean fresh air, crystal clear stream and breathtaking Jade Dragon Snow Mountain as backdrop. The inhabitants of this area are mainly the Nazi which has a very unique Dongba culture. Till today, Nazi people still practice the pictorial Dongba script. Lijiang was once confluence for trade along the Ancient Tea-Horse Road. Lijiang old town became UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997. It’s now a tourist magnet and a paradise for backpackers. Lijiang old town is famous for its unique reticular aqueduct system that supplies water to every family and every street. There are about 350 bridges in this small little town and it’s sometime referred to as ‘Suzhou in highland’. Rows of widow weeps are lined along the main streets beside these waterways.
Another interesting fact to note is that this is the only old town build without any city wall. According to legend, Lijiang was ruled by the Mu family for more than 500 years. In the Chinese character, if 'Mu' (represents the ruler of Lijiang) is boxed up in a frame (represents the city wall), you have the character 'Kun' which means 'siege'.

The layout and architecture of Lijiang old town reflects a very rich historical background. Wooden houses with beautiful engraved figures of people and animals on doors and windows. The center of the town is Square Street (Sifangjie) and has 4 main streets that extend to four different directions. Countless narrows alleys and lanes from every corner of the town are connected to these 4 mains streets. These streets and alleys are packed with tourist from morning till late night. At night, the whole town is brightly lighted up with lanterns. Groups of Nazi women trying to out sing one another across the street. I had 3 wonderful days exploring this little old town. No matter where I go, I find the fusion of old and new in a pleasant environment.

Square Street (Sifangjie)

Main street

Dongba pictorial script

Waterway of Lijiang

Lijaing old town at night

Bar Street at night

Water wheels at entrance to old town

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