Shanghai, Shangri-La, The Higher Mekong, Laos And Thailand
One cease to Shanghai, I was off in early November. Phoenix to Los Angeles and then Los Angeles to Shanghai.
I prearranged a non-public information for a day in a metropolis that reeks with feng shui. Having seen the city before from a stinking tour bus, it was great to have guide give me a work out. After walking from my $85 a evening 5-star lodge to Yuyuan Gardens, the Bund, procuring on Nanjing Highway, to Jing’an Temple is was time for lunch.
Most people rent a information and go place to position by taxi. We walked. After passing by the Folks’s park, it was lunch time; the guide did not know the neighborhood. We walked just a little further and ate duck, vegetables and high quality Chinese language beer in an upscale place. Normally I would eat where the locals do, but two places we passed had been filled with cigarette smoke.
Touring some alleys, outlets we succumbed to take the subway to Pudong, where I had an overpriced cocktail atop the Hyatt Lodge. I was increased than the Oriental Television tower of which I had been up before.
In the morning, I did what most tourists do not do. I saved the a hundred yuan or so cab fare to the airport and took the subway for all of 5 yuan, about $0.70. Off to Kunming where the Flying Tigers had been based mostly. I arrived on the Kai Wah Plaza Lodge with its huge glass atrium for a lobby. Too bad they did not pay their gas bill because it was 50 degrees F in there, much too cold to get pleasure from a drink at considered one of few nice bars in this a part of China.
Lunch the following day was duck smoked with pine needles. What a treat on the road to the Stone Forest. We wandered in rock formations all afternoon and mused at the signs “do not disturb the grass, it is napping.” It truly was a stone forest and it might have been simple to get lost among the formations.
On to Dali, where our information mentioned “All of the vacationers think this is great until you get to Lijiang and Shangri-la. The cobblestone streets, most of them blocked off to traffic were a joy to walk upon as I regarded over the outlets, a mixture of tourist outlets and everyday outlets for the locals.
After some purchases of some handicrafts we found the Monkey Bar. On “Foreigner St. we took a seat bar with actual cocktails on the menu. Usually if you could find western liquor in China, the menu will just say, “whiskey, gin, scotch, rum” and so forth. Or it is going to just checklist the model names. The Monkey Bar has an assortment of cocktails by name, a bartender who knew how to mix drinks and the obligatory Chinese rock and roll band.
Outside of Dali are the Three Pagodas. Prior to the earthquake a couple of years back, you may climb the Pagoda that overlooks the lake. We made a stop at the local batik factory. They call it a factory. Actually it was a small three family business of dying cloth with indigo and making various gadgets with the fabric. They used a large stencil to put wax on the cloth and then dyed it in blue solution. The design then transferred to the cloth.
Moving higher to Lijiang and its old town, our luggage was taken into town by a mini-mini-van, as regular vehicles are prohibited. The canal with ancient rules for water use was still in operation moving water wheels. The cafes had been a delight after huffing stone island china up to an overlook to photograph the splendid roofs of the old town. That evening we went to a Chinese classical theater. They played music from different dynasties. My ears were ringing and an hour in an unheated theater was enough. I went to a cafe for coffee and to my warm hotel room.
On the other side of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain lies Shangri-la. We meet our new information, Maria. She offers us a white scarf, as it’s a traditional greeting for friends. On the way our minibus takes on water to cool the brakes. After a walk into Tiger Leaping Gorge, 500 steps down and 500 more steps up, we dine overlooking the valley. The delightful cafe was up three flights of steps. For dessert Maria introduced us to Naxi pears, a pear with the crunchiness of an apple.
That evening we had been greeted with hot ginger tea at Songstam Retreat, Shangri-la, which reminded me Sedona with it stone construction. My room had a heavy blanket over the wooden door to keep out the draft. The bathroom was well appointed with a copper sink a hot shower with a wooden bucket, ladle and stool. The room had steam heat and a wood stove in the corner. Open the drapes and you have a wonderful view of the backside of the Monastery and Shangri-la. The views for the spa were heavenly. What a place to get a massage. Only if it had been spring time with the mountains covered with flowers!
That evening we are treated to a conventional Tibetan dinner consisting of yak prepared about 5 alternative ways including yak butter tea. We mingled with the locals as they performed dances in the town square after dark. Back at the Songstam Resort I had a cocktail at the bar and went off to test my woodstove. It was November, the tip of the season and moderately chilly outside.
In the morning we drove back to Lijiang and visited a Tibetan Village on the way. The house has the barn on the lower floor and living quarters in floor above, and loft above that for hay.
Saying goodbye to Maria, our Tibetan guide, we meet Jack upon arrival Lijiang. We stroll by a Baisha Naxi Village and have lunch in a delightful courtyard. I pick up some treats a neighborhood bakery.
We enter a park for a leisurely stroll around the Black Dragon Pool having fun with mountain vistas and the reflection of the water. There are a few shops, a small museum, small pagodas that make for a picturesque walk. After about two hours we enter Lijiang, visit the Dongba museum where we meet a 16th generation priest. Finally we get to sit down and have a cup of tea in a resort lobby.
Off to Jinghong on Lucky Air. Sure that’s the name of the airline. In Xishuangbanna we partake of a traditional Dai Folks’s BBQ. An assortment of grilled meats and fish prepared on sticks were unceremoniously dumped on the table. Several scorching dipping sauces were served together with a delightful peanut sauce.
The weather has modified for us. It is now warm and humid. We go to a place called Wild Elephant Valley, that may be a nature reserve for elephants and experience by the jungle by cable automobile. It was more like a zoo with big aviaries, a butterfly cage and another animals. On the long cable car ride the locals take pictures of us as we are the attraction because we didn’t see any elephants.
After lunch drive to Ganlangba, visit Water Dai Village where lunch came from the small lake our table was perched over. Afternoon visits of the Yellow Pagoda and Rubber Garden did not impress anybody. The weighing, sorting and loading of pineapples was much more fascinating. We picked up just a few pineapples for our evening dessert.
We leave China crossing into Laos. The river was closed to river traffic because of drug violence that occurred two months ago. China is planning to patrol the river between Burma and Laos but as of this writing, the river remains to be closed. The Laotian countryside is gorgeous. We dine at a delightful cafe along the way after which cross the Mekong into Thailand on a sampan.
We walk about six blocks to the Chiang Khong Teak Garden Hotel. After checking in a couple of of us head to a bar a couple of doors down and have a scotch and water at a very low worth. They even had ice. That night we dine overlooking the Mekong and have been introduced to Mekong Whiskey. Actually it is dark rum made in Thailand. I ask the waiter to bring me a quarter lime, some soda water and just enjoy savored the moment. Outdoor dining and all that water, we did not see or really feel a mosquito.
At this point, we have one more day of touring to get near an airport. We take a short sail on the Mekong Sun. Hans Engberding, a German entrepreneur, has constructed two river ships on the higher Mekong. “The delight of Laos” they are called. Built on two long aluminum hulls the wooden ships ply these waters when the river levels permits, taking tourist first class around the Golden Triangle for 4 to seven night cruises. With nicely-appointed river view cabins, air-conditioning, a full bar and occasional smuggled prime-rib Hans feeds his European clientele a mixture of German/French cuisine and some local flavors too. He affords us a short course on Asian fruit snacks accessible at convenience stores.
Lunch at Imperial Hotel Terrace overlooking the Golden Triangle was unique in indisputable fact that this was the primary time I saw lettuce in two weeks. In the Opium museum, we walked off our lunch and learned of the queen. Opium in Thailand has mostly been replaced with coffee.
On our last night on the Dusit Island Resort in Chiang Rai, the crimson carpet was rolled out for the princess as she was having a private get together at the hotel. We went to the night market, picked up some trinkets and rode a tuk-tuk motorized rickshaw back to the hotel. The crimson carpet was gone and so was I as I began a series of flights dwelling the following day.
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