Monday, October 20, 2014

Starkey Mission to China, 2014 - Day 14 (Part 2)

After the tour of Snow Mountain, Rosaline, David and I hopped in a cab and headed for Old Town. David had already been to Old Town the first day, but was eager enough to go back. Rosaline and I had not seen any of the sights yet, and apparently the view from Black Dragon Pool is world famous (not to mention highly recommended by David) so we were definitely looking forward to that.

Right away the view was astounding.

We started out looking down on Old Town, and slowly wended our way down through alley-ways and back passages. We came across a group of older ladies carrying baskets filled with bricks up a fairly steep incline. Remind me not to complain about my lower back problems any more!

There were tiny hotels, restaurants and bars nestled in every nook and cranny; it sort of reminded me of Europe. If you got rid of the Chinese characters, you would think you were in a different country!

Live eels for lunch, anyone?

About half-way down we came across the Wang Pi-Zhen Memorial Hall. Apparently this guy was a prolific writer who was born in Old Town Lijiang, but didn't start writing until after his retirement! I guess it is never too late. :)

We finally made it down to the merchant area of Old Town and Rosaline and I were desperately trying to find some last-minute gifts.  David had already bought everything he wanted so he was ready to find a place to grab a beer.  Unfortunately, Rosaline and I weren't having much luck so while David went in search of a pint we went in search of more shopping.

After we found each other again, Rosaline and I had found pretty much everything we needed, and David had also found his beer, so it was time to head to the Black Dragon Pool. On the way we came across a famous music theatre - the Naxi Concert Hall.

I thought this photo was particularly artsy-looking.

Old Town had many sights to see.  The canals looked beautiful with all of their well-tended gardens.

There was also the famous waterwheel.  I was intrigued by this device as the two wheels move at different speeds, and I was envisioning all sorts of gears or clever routing of the water to make this happen, until I really thought about it - they're different diameters.  Duh.

The other thing to note was the presence of both a McDonalds and a Pizza Hut in the main square!  This is Old Town, right??

We finally made it to the entrance of Jade Spring Park, where we would find the Black Dragon Pool. We had to pay 80 yuan to get in, but it was worth the price of admission.

I assume this means "Garbage"?

So here it is.  The million dollar view.  This is the mountain we hiked up this morning. Now that we were here, I was starting to realize just how tired my legs and back were from all of the walking I had done today. There was plenty of other things to see in the park, but we were all getting very tired and looking forward to having some supper (and sitting down!). You just can't not take pictures of this kind of view though!

There apparently was a large pagoda in the area and David and I went on a bit of a "backwoods trek" to find it and stumbled across this building.  I'm not sure what it is, but it looked like it may have been a hotel or even apartments as people seemed to be staying in it.  It had a really nice central garden.

At this point, it was around 5 pm and we were tired and hungry.  We decided to go to the Maya Cafe, which gets big reviews on TripAdvisor, and which David and the rest of the gang had visited on the first day.  This little restaurant is a really cool place.  It is run by an Indian couple (Mamuana and Maya), and the food and atmosphere are fantastic!

When we arrived they looked closed, but apparently there was an unexpected power outage.  We were told the beer was cold and the curry was already made for the day, so we decided to stay.  We had incredible curry by candlelight, while Stevie Ray Vaughan blasted out in tinny splendour from the owner's cellphone.  It turns out he is a guitarist and was hoping to also release an album of his own songs in the future.  I left him an Audiofab business card. :)

Mid-way through the meal the power came back on, and we enjoyed ice cream cheesecake for dessert.  What an awesome ending to a great day.

The view from the Maya Cafe.

As it was getting dark we decided to find our way out of Old Town and get a cab back to the hotel. On the way out, we passed this appetizing attraction outside one of the restaurants. I believe that is (was) a goat?  I imagine this is what I was eating the other night in Chuxiong.

After exiting Old Town, we decided to walk around downtown Lijiang for awhile and do some more shopping.  I was still hoping I would get lucky and come across a costume store where I could pick up an Assassin's Creed costume for Drew.  While we did not find a costume store (big surprise), we did see downtown Lijiang and Rosaline picked up some more gifts.  There was an incredible deal on The North Face jackets as well, but I was all shopped out.  We ended up walking around for another hour or so and then found a cab back to the hotel ready for some much-needed rest for our journey home in the morning.

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