Not too fond of Lijiang’s hustle and bustle style of tourism and overpriced beers, we decided to switch spots and move to another part of Lijiang’s ancient town, Shuhe (束河). It’s only a short ride, but the amount of tourists per square metre decreases by more than half! We’re starting to understand how to convert ancient towns into a tourist magnet, and here’s our checklist
- Take an existing area with flourishing native people
- Import a lot of artists/craftsmen to setup shops selling their wares
- Rich, possibly well-educated young people flock in to open cozy coffee shops, antique stores and boutique hotels
And pretty soon, once this place becomes ‘popular’ there’s no turning back, as there’s just too many people in China.
Shuhe is pretty neat, as it still offers all of Lijiang’s touristy things while retaining quite a bit of the original local flavour. For one, there are still plots of farmland smack dab in the middle of the tourist area, where you can see locals growing crops! Strange, but it’s neat. The waterways of Shuhe is also much neater, as the locals have figured out a way lead ground water into the town, and they devised an ingenious way of using the water. Like a waterfall, the groundwater is lead into three linearly connected wells. The first well is for drinking, the second, washing produce, and the third is for washing hands/meats etc so you won’t have cross contaminate the single large pond of water.
Once again we found a comfy coffee shop and plunkered down to read for about 4hrs. This place was pretty neat, as it mainly sells postcards, the books are not for sale! Coffee and drinks are available, and it’s pretty good coffee at that, and chatting with the barista they seem to know what they’re talking about. The owners seem to be really into films as they have a large section dedicated to film books. At night, they dim the lights and put down a projector screen to show movies from around the world!!
Being bored after dinner, we stopped by and watched “In Bruges”, a rather dark and twisted comedy about killers taking a vacation in the ancient city of Bruges, Belgium. Being an English movie, a lot of the comedy stems from its awkward dialogue and the whole time I was laughing my ass off while I felt like everyone just staring at me wondering why…. Oh well, they missed out!