Existing Member?

nomadnorrie From Sydney to the formula 1 grand prix in Shanghai, Beijing, South Korea, Mongolia, Russia, Ukraine and Europe. Final destination by train is London. Hopping on a flight to Finland, then on to Japan and finally back to Sydney.

Northern Yunan

CHINA | Sunday, 17 February 2008 | Views [7357] | Comments [4]

Tiger leaping gorge

Tiger leaping gorge


I arrived at Chengdu airport to find that there was a problem with my e-ticket; somehow it went missing. Somebody came along to help me, took my passport and disappeared, 15 minutes later they came back with a boarding pass, then I was on my way. The flight was great with views of north Yunan province ensuring that my face was pressed against the window most of the time. So much for the pre-spring festival rush, the flight was 1/2 empty.

The countryside around Lijiang, Yunan, south west China

I made my way to a quiet old town called Shuhe, which is near Lijiang old town but not in it. After checking in I made my way out and bumped into a girl from Shanghai who was going my way. We both went for a wander around and eventually stumbled across a place where music and dance rehearsals were taking place. There was a group of boys and girls separated on stage, performing a traditional version of the RunDmC's "It's Like That, cause that's the way it is". They were practising a sort of traditional courtship and it involved lots of excellent singing. We sat and watched for a bit, then I was dragged up on stage by 8 or so clapping and cheering local women. Fortunately I didn't ruin their rehearsal, all I had to do was clap in time and say that I really like Lijiang.

Lijiang's old town has a certain something that makes wandering the streets exciting. The number of shops selling tourist tat ruin the place a little but it was still worth checking out the canals, green surroundings and snow-capped mountains. Being able to see the horizon was also a great surprise and being able to breath fresh air for the first time in quite a while was a treat.

Lijiang old town, Yunan, south west China

Wash day in Lijiang

Back in Shuhe for the evening I found a place that could make me a green beans, garlic and tofu stir fry. Delicious. I met an American woman in the restaurant and we both ended up going to watch the dancing in the square that I stumbled across earlier. She danced and I watched. The dancing was actually great to watch and had I not had my laptop in my backpack I probably would have had a go. The dance style varied but the locals' enthusiasm for dancing didn't wane. Everyone danced in a circle while the ringleaders, dressed in traditional garb, were showing everyone else the moves. The steps were simple enough for any old geezer, sadly I missed out.

Dancing in Lijiang old town's main square - similar to the evening dancing in Shuhe.

Tiger Leaping Gorge

I had decided to move from an old town near Lijiang called Shuhe to a place called Mama Naxi's in Lijiang old town. It was an excellent decision because Mama Naxi's is a hostel where most people wanting to go to the gorge stay. They also offer cheap and filling breakfasts and the best-priced transport to the start of the track (20 Yuan). There were also plenty of people to quiz about it. Mama Naxi's was the most welcoming place I've stayed at so far. I even got a hug, some fruit and a necklace when I left.

Tiger leaping gorge was amazing and well worth the effort. I spent a day worrying about things like the weather, what to take, is a sleeping bag needed, how much food. Time spent worrying was wasted because the weather was clear and warm, there were plenty of places to buy food/water and there were places to stay all along the track. I could even have ridden a horse some of the way if I had wanted to. Declining the "Do you want to ride a horse?" offer prompted the horse owner to say "Ni yaobuyao toufa?" or "Do you want some hair?"

The start of Tiger Leaping Gorge.

The only slight cause for concern was the near-vertical ladder that seemed to be made of coat hangers and rotten wood. There was a warning but only for those going down the ladder, I was going up.

Dangerous ladder.

The sign at the top of the ladder.

I spent 2 days in the gorge admiring the scenery but I probably should have spent 3 or 4 days there. It's a fairly well trodden route but we passed only a few people during the first day. In typical Chinese fashion a couple of unofficial looking tollgates were set up from the lower road to the tiger leaping stone. To walk down to the river costs 10 Yuan, to get back up costs another 10 Yuan and a further 5 Yuan fee is imposed to get closer to the tiger leaping stone. Anywhere else it would probably be illegal but in China that's how things work.

The middle of Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Back in Lijiang

Back at Mama Naxi's dormitory I met a pretty German girl and we started talking about Tiger Leaping Gorge. She went through the same sort of worrying that I went through; "What if it rains, I don't have a rain coat" she said. She has a similar backpack to me - one that opens at both ends - so I tried to put her at ease by suggesting she wear her backpack since that is waterproof. "Step into the bag, tighten the top pull string around your neck you'll be fine" I said. Ungratefully, she didn't even try it on.

I rented a bicycle and went to a village a few kms to the north, called Baisha. There is a famous guy, Dr Ho, that lives there who dishes out herbal medicine (if you are poor it is free, apparently). 

Hi, I am famous, do you know me?

Apparently he has done it for 50 years and it seems that because he is famous people go there to have a look (just like me). I didn't have to find him, he stopped me in the street and said "Hi, I am famous, do you know me?" Baisha is also a great place to examine the mud brick houses.

Baisha mud and straw bricks.

Baisha mud brick buildings.


Still going south, Dali was my next stop. It's an old town with a similar feel to Lijiang but it didn't quite measure up. There is a rather large lake nearby and the prospect of cycling around it kept me there for a couple of days. With the wind blowing a gale I didn't manage to do any cycling, instead I just visited another old town nearby called Xizhou.

Wandering around Xizhou I found some interesting old decrepid buildings and also bumped into a wedding procession. Turning down the offer of eating with the newlyweds I headed back out of the small lane to get away from the defeaning firecrackers.

I arrived back at my immaculately clean hostel to a find a guy in front of my room chopping up a pigs?ear. Waving the Pig's ear in one hand and a butchers knife in the other he said to me "Have you eaten yet?"

Where am I now?

Xishuangbanna, a tropical place where China borders Laos and Burmah. Hopefully, while waiting for the weather to improve in south China, I will get to see some elephants.

Tags: Adventures



I love the offer of a hair transplant - us Chinese are always on the look out to make a fast buck! Where do think Elton John went for his....Lol.

  Chon Wai Lee Feb 19, 2008 1:17 AM


It took me a while to realise what they guy had said but we all laughed about it afterwards.

  nomadnorrie Feb 20, 2008 6:04 PM


the picture you took at Lijiang old town (you seat besides a tree), actually is a bar I used to pay a visit when I stayed at Lijiang at Apr 2008, :)

that's amazing to see it when I was googled it in your blog

  kilvon May 26, 2008 12:27 AM


Wonderful pictures! It seems like you really understand how to explore new places. Tiger Leaping Gorge looks amazing! Thanks for sharing!

  [email protected] Green Global Travel Jun 27, 2015 3:44 AM

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.



Travel Answers about China

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.