I think we might’ve finally reached the best part of this trip.
We’re at Lijiang in Yunnan where people seem fiercely determined to just relax.
Lijiang is one of those places which we get the most mixed reviews from friends and other travellers. Haters decry it for being too “touristy” and manufactured, and supporters swear that they can see themselves living in Lijiang forever and ever.
Having spent the last few days in Lijiang, there’s only one question we want to ask…
“How can anyone NOT like Lijiang???”
True…there’s not much to “do”, but that’s not what you go to Lijiang for.
Lijiang forces you to slow down your pace to a dead crawl as you wander through the cobble-stoned streets. Little cafes litter both sides of the roads, inviting… nay…seducing you to enter for a moment just to “发呆” (literally “growing idiotic”) (REALLY) (almost…)
For us, entire days go by as we sit in the various cafes.
The smart alecs amongst you would probably say… can’t we sit in cafes back home too???
Well, we could… but the cafes here are just… different, and even with their different themes/backgrounds, still uniquely Lijiang.
I think it might have something to do with the low oxygen content in the air, or the awesome mountain range that acts as backdrops for most of these cafes.
It might also be attributed to the fact that all of the cafes will, in varying volume, be blasting this song over their speakers.
The song is “滴答” by a singer from Yunnan named 侃侃. Any shop worth their salt in Lijiang has this song on loop. You’d think we’d want to headbutt every speaker in our vicinity after hearing the same song for the 17th time in a day, but this song is so… “easy” that it just melts into the background.
It’s all part of the Lijiang experience.
Anyway, one of the biggest appeals of the cafes in Lijiang is that they are mostly operated by other travellers who have made their way to Lijiang and decided not to leave. I know… that last line sounds like the creepy lyrics from “Hotel California”, but it’s kinda true. Most of the shop operators in Lijiang are not originally from Lijiang. A lot of them travelled here, decided it’s a good place to chill (for a very long time) and never left. We even met a fellow Singaporean who opened a chain of dessert stores in Lijiang (selling some of the most awesome yoghurt EVER). After months of travelling, it feels nice being able to sit down and swap tales with others that have done this a long time before you. The conversation is unlike those we have at the hostels where it’s just a superficial swapping of “Where are you from?” and “Where’ve you been?”. The bragging nature of the number of places we’ve visited is taken out.
Like I said… entire days go by just sitting in the cafes.
And then there are the dogs…
I swear, one of the requirements for opening a cafe in Lijiang is that you must own a gorgeous huge ass dog.