Liebe grüße Aus Lijiang. I say this because in the past few days I have become a full fledged honory German. There were five other Germans in our hostel and the balcony overlooking the old town was a lovely place to drink.

Lijiang is a bigger version of Dali, the old town is very nicely done up and it’s the first properly pedestrianised centre I’ve encountered, but it still has that fake feel found in many ‘old’ towns with China’s policy of pull down and build it new, but in an old style. Still it was lovely to wander and I did some bartering for the girls after horrifyingly discovering they pay the opening price with vendors.

We went out that evening along the canal strip of bars. The Chinese have a funny way of going out, they buy countless bottles of beer, have them displayed on their table just opening one at a time and sharing it in tiny glasses. I think the number of bottles is kind of a status thing, stating how much you can afford even if you’re not even going to open it. The bars are all like nightclubs, dark with flashing lights and strobes with music beyond loud, often a terrible live singer pumping out. Yet there is no dancefloor and everyone sits round their table unable to hear each other.

We were having a few beers wandering and choosing where to go party when dead on 11:30 all the music turned off. The town evidently has a nigh curfew, so it wasn’t even quiet music, just complete silence; all the whilst the lights kept spinning and the strobes turned the rooms into stop motion pictures. It was all very surreal. We went to drink on our balcony.

The following day we rented some more bikes and went off to explore the surrounding villages. It was a fantastic day cruising around, seeing a couple of lovely smaller villages, meeting the famous 91 year old herbal medicine man, finding a swimming reservoir for an afternoon dip and gradually sipping our way through a fair few bottles of Yunnan red. We managed to find a spot to jump a stream to avoid paying the outrageous fee for black dragon lake – which was a massive disappointment – and also got some insanely cheap tasty BBQed dinner.

The day was an all round win and one of my favourites in Yunnan, despite not really seeing anything. Those can be some of the best ones though whilst travelling where you’re just taking a steady pace and stopping at things that look interesting (in our case wine bars). We left early the next morning in the direction of probably the biggest tourist sight here, Tiger Leaping Gorge.