26 year old Canadian, Dutch resident travelling to every country in the world (111 so far) to become the first Canadian female to visit them all. Bestselling travel AUTHOR and founder of popular #TRLT Twitter chat.
The driver finally turned around in his seat and pointed at the open door to show us that we had arrived at our stop. “What was this village called again?” I asked Ammon as I ducked out the door behind him. “Longji,” he told me.
“Ahh, Longji” The word rolled off my tongue and took flight in the wind as I soaked up the calmness of the setting around me.
Wooden cottages with black, shingled roofs stood on stilts, and bundles of yellow corn cobs dried as they hung from wooden balconies.
“We’re going to be hiking pretty far to get a view of this place. Longji means Dragon’s Spine in Chinese,” Ammon said, sharing his facts for the day.
When I finally reached the edge and hung my head over, I understood their joyful expressions. Below us was a magnificent vista blending the best of humankind and nature. Balancing on that rim, I became one with history. Maintained, cultivated, and passed down through generations. Ammon’s words echoed in my brain. Built six-hundred years ago, it took three-hundred years to complete this riveting masterpiece.
The hundreds of tiers carved into the mountainsides looked like the ancient steps of an Aztec pyramid and added visual exhaustion to my physical fatigue. A beautiful system engendered by some historical genius. I’m not so sure about Dragon Spine, but some mythical creature must surely be running this show.
Chapter #17 “Rails and Trails”
“Oh c’mon, Savannah. You don’t want to miss your first train ride,” Mom said. “Yes, actually I do. Very much so,” I told her bluntly. Savannah bottom, Bree top
The platform rumbled beneath me as the train drew near.
Chapter #18 “Birthday Bargaining”
Dali waited for us as if with open arms. Here we planned to take a well-earned rest.
A four-bed dorm that cost three dollars per person per night was home for the next four days. I walked in and collapsed on my bed and didn’t move.
We sat in the lovely courtyard later that evening beneath the shade of the straw hut and played our ongoing card game of Daifugō
I was finally allowed to soak up some of this beauty rather than watch it whiz by me on buses, trains, or bikes.
Chapter #19 “Wrinkles and Dimples“
“This is Granny. She will take care of you.” Granny responded with a big, joyous smile. She didn’t hesitate a moment before gently taking Mom’s hand to lead us up the narrow, steep passage from the porch.
“Twinkling canals alongside brick pathways wound their way around homes with thatched roofs.”
The streets were nearly empty aside from a few local shoppers scattered along the way and a little crowd that had formed in the main square, where local women dressed in blue aprons and white vested costumes linked arms to dance and spin.
Onlookers joined in, raising and kicking their legs as the giant circle rotated. All the participants were smiling and laughing.
Lijiang’s major tourist attractions are its large, double waterwheels.
The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain located fifteen kilometres away. It formed part of the southernmost glacier in the northern hemisphere.
It was neither the Jade Dragon nor the waterwheels we walked miles to see that impressed me. Rather, it was the enchanting beauty of the village itself.
Wood planks were used to bridge the narrow waterways between shops. It was the everyday normality and the still beauty that made this town memorable.
A temple with many curved and then pointed roofs exuded spirituality.
A. We found ourselves at one of many local watering holes, each consisting of a three-tiered system of square, cement pools surrounded by a small courtyard.