Posts tagged ‘Lijiang’

39 hours of busses and train

A very long journey awaited me. I had enough for a bus ticket to Kunming after changing what was left of my Baht. The bus was a sleeper (with beds) and left Lijiang at 8:30pm. I was in Kunming’s bus station before sunset, where the bus had stopped and let the sleeping passengers doze until 6am. From 6 to 8 I slept on the chairs in the bus station, amidst lots and lots of unventilated cigarette smoke. I then went to eat breakfast at this place near the station that serves a thali set of Chinese food for 6 Yuan. By 8:45 I was on the bus on my way to Rachel’s workplace to collect my card.

At her office I distracted her a bit as I tried to activate my new card. I couldn’t do it because I didn’t know the account # but my cousin was finally able to do it for me in New York. I walked away very cheerful and almost applauded the machine when it presented me with all those Yuan!

Afterwards I went to the train station, intending to buy a ticket for later in the afternoon for the 24+ hour journey to Guangzhou (the city I originally flew in to from Bangkok). I had been trying to buy an air ticket instead but without success. The prices when I first started looking were less than twice of the price of the train ticket which was very good and reasonable, but the site ELONG.net requires immense verification for foreign credit card purchases, so despite sending them copies of my passport, credit card (from & back) and signature I didn’t make the cut and they cancelled my tickets. What I couldn’t provide them was my signature on the document they wanted me to sign because I didn’t know where to print it out and re-scan or fax it. It was all too much hassle, especially with the time constraints because it was evening already when I was trying to book these tickets and was leaving to the Gorge the next morning. And since they don’t guarantee prices until confirmed it made less economic sense to buy later.

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June 17, 2009 at 9:54 am 1 comment

Lijiang

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I arrived in Lijiang from Dali a few days ago planning to stay with a host from CS. Otherwise i would have gone to Shangra-La, the beginning of Tibet because that was the city i really wanted to visit. My first day in Lijiang was uneventful. I walked around the old city, lit up and noisy, amidst hundreds of Chinese tourists. I treated myself to dessert, an 18 Yuan cheesecake at the restaurant where my host worked.

Later at night, my host nonchalantly told me that he had guests coming and that i had to leave the next day. Of all the CS experiences i’ve had this was probably the worst, despite all the hosting experience and positive references he had. To agree to host me for several days and then tell me to leave was ugly and i think it’s because he hosts so often that he’s stopped caring for his cs-ers. Ironically, he had so many of the qualities i seek in people: well read, interested in simple living, even a vegetarian. And yet, he was cold and not a question or word came without my prodding.

In any case, it was a blow.

But it turned out well. I found a bed at the quaintest place… Mama Naxi guesthouse. Run by a middle aged Naxi woman who speaks of herself in third person and treats her guests with the familiar way of an aunt. The guesthouse is always full of travelers, mostly from Israel, western Europe and America and nights here are full of chatter and laughter.

Since Kunming i’ve spent about $50 on the train to Dali, food, guesthouses, bicycle, bus to Lijiang, and the gorge entrance fee. Lijiang is even less expensive than Thailand and yet nothing seems cheap enough. I hate counting every Yuan. On Monday i’ll be back in Kunming =)

June 13, 2009 at 7:52 pm Leave a comment


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