This was our last day in Lijiang. I was already sad thinking about leaving this city of mountains.
Harry and I decided to bike to Baisha, a mountain village known for its ancient murals. We rented two Giant bikes from the hostel and biked for about an hour outside the city.
As we neared the village entrance, we saw fields of dried, yellow grass that led up to clusters of traditional, brick houses with sloping roofs and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain forming the backdrop as clouds hovered over its snowy peaks. As one hiker aptly said when we were climbing Tiger Leaping Gorge, “I wish I could jump into this landscape.”
Eventually we arrived at the village’s main square with its cobblestone streets and one-story buildings where you could buy a drink or some overpriced trinket. There was a group of older men who had various stringed instruments and convinced me to be their drummer. I kept the beat as they played a plaintive tune. Now I can check “drummer in Chinese band” off my bucket list.
Later we went to see the Baisha murals, Buddhist paintings that were several hundred years old. Some were in surprisingly good condition. Most had a central figure, who was the most powerful being, seated in a lotus position and other beings fanned out from him on both sides with their own halos.
Outside of the temple, the courtyard was a peaceful place with flowering trees and paved stone walkways. A good place to meditate or think deep thoughts, I suppose.
Later Harry and I wandered down the streets of Baisha. There were more cafes and hostels than I could count. Outside of one café, a Spaniard was strumming his guitar and singing. They were selling handmade bracelets inside for 300 RMB ($50). Seemed a bit pricey.
We biked down to the village bridge for one final look at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. It was sad to say goodbye. On the way back, we stopped at a woodcarving shop where two workers were furiously hammering indentations onto a large metal sheet. Looked like an exhausting job. Among all the chairs and tables, I found a sturdy, 20’ tea table. Somehow I don’t think it would fit into my studio apartment.
Back in Lijiang, we ate at the Blue Papaya in Old Town where we had some black chicken soup (black skin, white meat) and an assortment of cold dishes including cucumber sticks, pickled cabbage, purple rice, and bacon. A fitting last meal.
We walked around Old Town one more time, and I couldn’t resist some frozen yogurt. Back at the hostel, the dog coerced me into giving him some of it.
Tomorrow we had a 17-hour train ride back to Guangzhou. I would miss this city with its snow-capped mountains, traditional homes, and Naxi culture. Perhaps I would return someday, but for now, this was goodbye.