The road near Tiger Leaping Gorge is prone to rock slides and can be closed. When I was there they were just dropping people off on one end of the slide, people climbed over and other cars would pick them up on the other side. But the rocks started sliding again shortly before I got there - so no one was trying to get across!
Lijiang Tour Companies
Lijiang and the surrounding area is incredible. Unfortunately the local tour companies are not so good. They tend to be money mills rushing everyone through to get volume.
We booked a two day hike in Tiger Leaping Gourge with what appeared to be a professional well managed operation. The day was to start by meeting at the Big Wheel at 8:30. At 7:45 our phone was ringing with an upset "guide" that was saying we are late and holding up the group.
When we got there the "guide" was a young student that had been "contrcated" by the tour company.
Once on the trail the guide was practically running. We were to have a 4 hour hike to the "Halfway GH" and spend the night there. After 2 hours on the trail the guide was saying "we are making good time, we can finish the hike today and spend the night at Tina's GH". When we said we did not want to do that the guide said "there is nothing to see on the way, all the good sights are at the end near Tina's".
After a rushed lunch the guide was off again leaving the group to chase him. He actually left us on the trail resulting in us getting lost and taking a dangerous climb straight up the mountain while the guide rested at the highest pass having tea. When we did actually reach the pass and asked the guide why he abandoned us he said "I was waiting for you here".
When we reached the "Halfway GH" we learned that the tour compnay had not made the reservations they claimed which was why the guide was rushing us to do a 2 day trip in one day.
Beware, get the intinary in writting, make sure that you have the number of the tour company and the local tourist affairs office.
The rest of the week we made our own arrangments for less money and had the trips that WE wanted.
Garganta del salto del tigre / Tiger Leaping Gorge
Cuando camines por el sendero de la primera Garganta del Salto del Tigre es mejor que vayas cerca de la montaña , pues puede haber desprendimiento de rocas .
Han hecho una obra impresionante excavando un sendero ,de 2,5 kms de largo , en plena montaña
When you walk on the path of the first Tiger Leaping Gorge, it is best to go besides the mountain, as there may be loosening of rocks.
They made an impressive work digging a path of 2.5 km long, in the mountain
2 places to avoid at Black Dragon Pond
Avoid going to these 2 places:
1) Jie Tuo Lin (see picture 1)
2) Long Shen Ci (see picture 2)
I was prepared on Long Shen Ci as I have read from fellow VT sites that some were caught paying RMB300 for the joss sticks. As such, I did not go in.
However, I was caught totally off-guard by Jie Tuo Lin. It is a double story building where on the ground level, they exhibited some handcrafted/painted vases. Subsequently, the "tour guide" will bring you to the second level and you will realise that something's amiss as it's converted to a mini praying/temple with 2 monks. The chief monk will literally grab your hand and start reading your palm... he will ask you to flip this tiny book of which it will tell you how things are looking up for you. After all this is done, he'll tell you that they are building a new temple and ask you for donations... I managed to get out of the situation after making a small token (I literally told the monk I have no money!)
- Religious Travel
Lijiang delicacies include bugs and grubs so if you intend to be adventurous, make sure that the insects are well-cooked and served hot.
Same goes for the salads and other vegetables. Never touch em' raw.
Failure to do so will only result in a bad, bad belly.
Oxygen Cannisters and Roach Sprays
The dumbest thing anyone can do at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is to fork out over 40rmb for a can of oxygen that looks no different from the spray you'll use on roaches. Sad to say, hubby and myself succumbed to this ruse and bought those bloody things. We got hookwinked when we were told repeatedly (by our driver and the shop owners) that we needed it to breathe comfortably up at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
What a motherload of crap.
At the end of the day, we didn't even use one can and ended up carrying 4 cannisters of oxygen up and down the mountain like bloody mules. Though the cans were light, it got annoying each time the cans clanked against each other. Since it served like a little clapper that reminded us how foolish we were. Plus, if anybody ran towards us with a lighter, we'd blow up higher than any cheap china-made firecracker*.
Luckily we survived the climb.
If I had to think really hard, there was only one tiny saving grace. We felt a little better after finding out that we paid 'only' 20rmb for one roach spray elsewhere while others forked out 40RMB per can at the mountain itself.
Still, I think it's still useful to post this on VT. If you're reading this, it's better to take my crap advice with a pinch of salt. Have at least one can of oxygen with you if you're physically inactive. Since I didn't want to appear more foolish than I already am, I didn't want to mention that my husband and I are marathoners and we clean forgot that our lungs were used to process oxygen quite efficiently .
*Oxygen is highly flammable.
Snaky Long Queues
Bring your iPod, portable telly, partner or whatever to keep you occupied when you're taking the cable car at YanShanping, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. You'll wait up to half an hour for the bus to take you to the cable car station and another half hour to take the cable car itself. This is tourism at its mass best.
Going to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is Expensive
The excursion to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain can be relatively expensive. The whole affair cost about 600RMB and it gets really annoying as you have to keep paying one fee after another. Here's the breakdown:
1)Cab Driver (Hire for one day)
-100RMB per vehicle if you look local and speak Mandarin,
-150RMB-300RMB per vehicle if you're a westerner/can't speak Mandarin well.
-8rmb if you take the mini van no.7 at the Mao tze tung Statue. The bus stops at the Ganhaizi cable car stand, Baishuihe and YunShanPing.
3)Cable Car to the Peak and Bus Fee to Blue Moon Valley
4)Impressions of Lijiang (optional, a musical by Zhang Yi Mou)
-30rmb over there
-20RMB in shops near there
-8RMB if bought elsewhere in town
6)Long Red Overcoats (it's dumb looking and expensive, don't even bother to consider wearing this if you already have your winter jacket. )
Avoid the temple in Black Dragon Pool Park
As I was strolling inside the Black Dragon Pool Park, some ladies called out to me and asked to enter a temple. I pretended not to hear them. Gd thing I did, since I heard from other unfortunate travellers that they were made to pay a whopping RMB300 for lighting 3 incense sticks for good luck!
The temple is just next to the Dong ba Cultural Museum.
Watch where you are walking. It is easy to trip on the cobblestones or fall into the canals from the walkways or bridges, many of which do not have handrails. The cobblestones can be very slippery when wet!
Walking along the leaping gorge you often meet red signs on the rock that tells you to not stop in a certain point because stone may fall suddenly, what I wondered was: if I keep walking am i sure to avoid the eventual stone?
Some more signs tells you to not smoke and then I wondered why as it's impossible that you cause a fire as there are only stones and water but....for a smoker, smoking prohibition are often not easy to be understood.
We weren't sure what to expect, but had been told mild altitude sickness was possible in Lijiang where the altitude was about 2400m (c.7000 ft.). In retrospect, this was probably the reason for a number of our group having headaches and nausea, so wisely deciding not to go to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
The night after we went up the mountain I felt increasingly unwell and had severe vomiting and a bad headache. Unfortunately this day involved 2 flights and at the airport in the middle I was checked by doctors to see if it was OK for me to continue flying. They confirmed altitude as the cause of the sickness and gave me 2 vials of herbal medicine to take. Immediately dubbed the 'vile vials' they were ultimately effective, helped no doubt by our destination being at a lower altitude!
ATM Cash money by credit card
Once you need cash money by using your Visa of other credit card, it's difficult to find an ATM machine in the old city. (I could't find one). But in the new city there are some 5-6 ATM's.
Therefore go out of the ancient city by the South Exit and you will find some in the big avenue strait ahead, some directly on the street, some are within a bank. The problem using an ATM in the street, is that all instruction buttoms are in Chinese, as the screen, so once you push three times the wrong buttom, you could lose your precious card. After some difficult escapes from chines ATM's, I went inside the bank, and showing to a bankemploye my creditcard if was OK to withdrawn. Then normally he will accompany you and push the right chinese buttoms.
World's worst Tour Company?
Just back from my second trip to Lijiang. Had time this time to take a couple of organised trips, first to Shangri-La, second to Lugu Lake. The first trip wasn't too bad, because the bus was comfortable and modern. The real negative was the terrible hotel.
But because on the whole I gave the trip a positive rating, I booked another with the same company.
And the second? That has to be amongst the worst guided tours I have ever taken. The bus was old and smelly, and there was little leg-room. Bad news for a six-footer on a six hour ride. The driver was dangerous. The guides were totally incompetent, explained nothing. We had to operate to their timetable, which included a long visit to a bank, as well as a shopping stop longer than lunch.
Lugu Lake didn't seem worth visiting, although I understand when the sun is shining (it wasn't) it is very pretty. The entertainment included was pathetic - too poorly lighted to enable decent photos, and basically it consisted of 44 locals dressed in colourful costume making about a dozen orbits of the "camp fire".
Other people had warned me of the locals trying all sorts of ruses to rob. On this occasion the guides too joined in demanding money with menaces.
DO NOT TRAVEL WITH MAGUOTOU Company. They have at least four offices over Lijiang old town. Their contracts are as toothless and as meaningless as any other Chinese contract.
High altitude...not for everyone
Lijiang is 2000 meters above sea level...some or most of the tourist attractions around it are even higher. When you're in a high altitude, you have lesser oxygen so that means it's easy to get tired or dizzy. So better take things slowly and if you do the Snow Mountain, it doesn't hurt to buy one of those small oxygen inhaling tubes. It's better to be safe than be sorry. With altitude sickness, your tummy gets weak as well that's why a lot of people will suffer diarrhea as a result.
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