Dude’s top 5 favorite things in Lijiang, China

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Pretending to be a model in LiJiang

Tigerair has resumed direct flights between Singapore and Lijiang for a cheap price of SGD319 (I checked myself)! They sent me and 4 others there last week so we can spread the word! I was sent as a Sports+Travel Magazine writer! 

Honestly, I never heard of Lijiang until tiger told me and thought it was going to be a “pass-through-city” to get to more famous places like Shangri-la up north. I’ve never been so wrong.

Pretending to be a model in LiJiang
Me pretending to be a model in LiJiang, with Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the background. Shot and directed by Rina

Lijiang IS the place to visit and not just a pass through. The place is so famous for its beauty, it got my dad excited when I told him I was going. I must have been living under a rock (Singapore).

We traveled early November, it was autumn, temperatures were cold. No snow yet but I brought my puffer jacket anyway. It came in useful.

Here are my top 5 favorite things during this trip.

  1. THE MOUNTAINS 

    Forget the Swiss Alps, this is Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in LiJiang
    Forget the Swiss Alps, this is Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in LiJiang

Omg, the mountains and their little snow covered tips! It was as if Tigerair knew that I was hunting for mountains in the Netherlands last month. This is the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (玉龙雪山)

They have a cable car you can take up to the top but it wasn’t working at that time we were there :(

The rivers are blue!
The rivers are blue!

 

View of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain from Shangri-la
View of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain from Shangri-la
  1. THE PEOPLE (and Beer)

    I don't smoke but accepted a ciggy anyway just to be macho. I had to assume the masculine role because I was the only guy in the group. Held the cig in my fingers and pretended to smoke lol. We were drinking their own moonshine liqueur. For the longest time I've been strictly beer but this liqueur was not bad. I enjoyed it.  After awhile of chatting he started calling me "Da Gor" (mandarin for Bigger Brother) maybe because my name was just too hard to pronounce. My guide and driver heard it and burst out laughing. "Da Gor" became my name for the rest of the trip lol
    Hanging with the locals in Lijiang. I don’t smoke but accepted a ciggy anyway just to pose all macho. I had to assume the masculine role because I was the only guy in the group. Held the cig in my fingers and pretended to smoke lol. We were drinking the local moonshine. It was good. 
    After awhile of chatting he started calling me “Da Gor” (mandarin for Bigger Brother) maybe because my name was just too hard to pronounce. My guide and driver heard it and burst out laughing because the fella must have been twice my age. “Da Gor” became my name for the rest of the trip lol

The people are so friendly! And I’ve lived in other parts of china before (shanghai), the people here are way more chill in comparison. Lijiang is known as one of the most romantic cities in China. There are many stories where people would come here and meet the love of their lives and eventually settle down here by starting a business.

It is not hard to see why people might do that. Life is calmer and slower paced in this beautiful mountain city. It’s a party everyday! I didn’t find the love of my life though, perhaps because that saying only applies to people who speak Chinese and maybe because I wasn’t actively looking lol.

Their night life rocks!! So much more happening than our nightlife in Singapore. People talk to each other with minimal inhibition.

Old Town Lijiang is Party central
Old Town Lijiang is Party central

Most of the hotels, bars and night clubs are opened by locals and visitors who turned locals when they decided to settle there. The owners would sometimes be the live band at their own establishments. They make everyone feel at home… and drink more of course.

Twins I found in old town, Dali

 

Friendly Hawkers outside Song Zanlin Monastery didn't shy away from cameras. Just always remember to be polite and ask for permission before taking pictures of them, I know you really like their fashion choices.
Friendly Hawkers outside Song Zanlin Monastery didn’t shy away from cameras. Just always remember to be polite and ask for permission before taking pictures of them, I know you really like their exotic fashion choices.
  1. MY GUIDE 

    Rina, Founder of Lost Horizons Vacations and SNB best
    Rina, Founder of Lost Horizons Vacations and SNB best

I’ve been on many guided tours but I’ve never had a guide bring us to night club before.

My guide, Rina, amazing lady from Lost Horizons Travel Vacations, heard early on that I like beer and was interested in the night life here; she decided to customize our tour to take us out to party! She bought us a shitload of beer and was getting shamelessly drunk and introducing us to everyone (She is super popular)! We were at her friend’s bar with a live band in old town Lijiang. Actually, she seems to know everyone, I wouldn’t be surprised if she knew the owners of every establishment in Yunnan province.

The live music was chinese, but when they took a break, English clubbing music took over; I was rocking out at my table. 

FROM INSTAGRAM: Boy do the chinese know how to throw a ghetto party! I now understand how Snow beer is the most drunk beer in the world! People drink it like water because it tastes it, at 2.5% alcohol lol. Great for maintaining a smallish high while looking like a badass knocking em back. I must have drunk like 10 of those hehe.  The amazing live music is made of the owner and his friends getting everyone drinking with regular toasts to wealth and whatevers. It was like he was preaching a drinking gospel and we were all at his church!  Wouldn't have been as fun without our guide who was the life of party, introducing us to everyone while getting shamelessly smashed (dude approves!) She made it feel like a private affair for close friends. She was so high she was introducing me as her boyfriend lol I got shy because shes cute 😳 Too bad we were tired from a day out. Defo coming back with more energy
FROM INSTAGRAM: “Boy do the chinese know how to throw a ghetto party!
I now understand how Snow beer is the most drunk beer in the world! People drink it like water because it tastes it, at 2.5% alcohol lol. Great for maintaining a smallish high while looking like a badass knocking em back. I must have drunk like 10 of those hehe.
The amazing live music is made of the owner and his friends getting everyone drinking with regular toasts to wealth and whatevers. It was like he was preaching a drinking gospel and we were all at his church!
Wouldn’t have been as fun without our guide who was the life of party, introducing us to everyone while getting shamelessly smashed (dude approves!) She made it feel like a private affair for close friends. 
Too bad we were tired from a day out. Defo coming back with more energy”

We later found out that she wasn’t just any guide. She is the BOSS of the company! No wonder she could solve problems so quickly and with such creativity!

Rina and I with my 4 other travel companions. Rina gave me that red jacket! <3 Left to right: Shaun (she),  WenJing, Eugene Soh, Rina, Katherine Sng and Gene Kwek
Rina and I with my 4 other travel companions. Rina gave me that red jacket! <3
Left to right: Shaun (she), WenJing, Eugene Soh, Rina, Katherine Sng and Gene Kwek

Other extra ordinary stuff she did:

  1. At the start of the trip she was already offering her phone Wifi Hotpot tethering password. She knew what we were looking for.. Our internet fix! Unfortunately because China banned facebook, most of us couldn’t get our fix through her hotspot. In the end, we used our own expensive global internet roaming service to connect to Facebook and check our gmails. I haven’t got the bill yet, but M1 is suppose to cap the data roaming charges at S$15 bucks a day. So that should hopefully be cool.
  2. She buys us beer. Usually, on familiarization trips like this, it is an unspoken rule that you buy your own beer. But she bought more than half my beers for the entire trip. I felt bad seeing how much she was blowing on my drinks and bought my own carton from the supermarket. They were crazy cheap anyway… Compared to sg beer prices.
  3. She let me sleep at her house! OMG. you know there is silly superstition that corner rooms in all hotels are haunted. The rational is that all the bad chi gets stuck in corner or some bullshit like that. I jokingly suggest that I didn’t want to spend the night in that room. Without hesitation, Hero Rina offered her studio for me to spend the night! I jumped on the opportunity. I live for experiences like these. Uncertainty excites me. I like seeing how real locals live. it was so cool! I’m shameless, I know. She followed through on her offer.
    The room I slept in at Rina's studio in Lijiang
    The room I slept in at Rina’s studio in Lijiang, she has a sweet loft at her studio.
  4. Rina also says things as they are. We were driving past some new looking school buildings in the country side of Shangri-la, she pointed them out saying the Chinese government built them to educate and brainwash the people in the area… WOW. Authentic chick #1!
  5. She speaks English! Her bubbly personality shines through better when she speaks chinese but that’s understandable. It is hard to maintain a personality when switching languages.. I become a retard when trying to speak Chinese. 
  6. She is resourceful! When my phone ran out of juice, she lent me her powerbank. When Gene’s phone dropped into the toilet, she let her use one of her 2 iPhones for the rest of our stay!

Rina other than being the boss of this travel company, she also runs several other businesses. She is quite an entrepreneur! Her company is “SNB best” and they sell power banks too! The power banks she lent me was produced by her company. 

Badass, beer guzzling, feicely intelligent and cute! She’s like 26 years old and already so successful. Damn what have I been doing with my life?

I am so impressed with her and her ability change the tour according to our interests.

I love to be able to go where I want, when I want. That’s why my favorite travel style will always be a self-drive road trip! This tour was just like a self drive because we went to where we wanted, when we wanted, but without having to do any of the driving. Shiok.

Her tours start from as low as SGD 950 for a 7 day private and customization tour. Just tell her what you prefer doing and she’ll take you and your friends/family there. Hell, she brought us clubbing, there could very well be no limit to the places she can take you!  

Her website: www.losthorizonvacations.com

email: reservations@losthorizonvacations.com

phone: +65 90012746 / +86 13208888044

  1. SCOOTER RIDE IN DALI 

    The electric scooter I rode in Dali
    The electric scooter I rode in Dali

Oh we got to ride a scooter around beautiful Er Hai in Dali! We got to ride it anywhere we wanted! It was freedom!

It was my first time riding a scooter and when we were told that we could ride it anywhere (just be back before dinner) I was overjoyed!

There were only two scooters at the hotel we were at (Mandarin Hotel, Dali), the rest were bicycles, there was no way I was giving up this opportunity just to act all gentlemanly for my female travel companions (Sorry girls! Chivalry is dead, whatever)

Thankfully only three out of five were interested in riding and Gene graciously let Kat and I at the scooters. Thanks Gene!

So Kat and I rode away into the sunset! I daringly tried to go up this rocky hill because I’m crazy and it turned out to be too steep. My scooter literally slowed down to a halt because it didn’t have enough power for the steeper part. We struggled to get down the slope later but #NoReGrEtS

Kat cursing me all the way down the slope that I brought her up lol. Sorry Kat! I was kind laughing at her struggle.
Kat cursing me all the way down the slope because it was rocky and we were both noobs. Sorry Kat! I was laughing at her struggle.

 

The quaint town built beside Er Hai Lake in Dali, China
The quaint town built beside Er Hai Lake in Dali, China

 

carved out rock formations in Dali, China
carved out rock formations in Dali, China

 

Me posing on top of boats beside Erhai lake in Dali. Photo by Katherine Sng
Me posing on top of boats beside Erhai lake in Dali. Erhai lake is so big you can hardly see the other side. The clouds kinda outline the hills on the other side. Photo by Katherine Sng

 

  1. KAYAKING 

    Thats me holding up my Kayak Paddles. Photo by Katherine Sng
    Thats me holding up my Kayak Paddles. Photo by Katherine Sng

There is a lake in Lijiang (Lashi Lake) where you can get your own kayak (FOR FREE as long as you have lunch at the restaurant that owns the Kayaks) and basically paddle everywhere in the lake! There were no silly boundaries! The water was calm and it made paddling very easy!

The rest of the girls didn’t dare to bring their phones and cameras but since my phone (Sony Xperia Z1) was waterproof, I brought it down into the lake and managed to get some selfies.

I couldn’t contain my happiness, it was my first time kayaking. And like the scooter, There was little to no instructions! Somehow everyone just figures it out on their own, me included. 

After shooting enough photos with the girls I decided to paddle as far as I could into the middle of the lake just to see if I could… And I COULD, no one stopped me. I was so far out I half expected a speed boat to come drag me back to shore but nope, no one came, I was free…

I was in the middle of the lake smiling my face off taking in all that sweet feeling of freedom!

Dude acting all cool in the waters
Dude acting all cool in the waters

 

Chillin
Chillin

 

Me and my travel companions. Thank goodness for my waterproof phone!
Me and my travel companions. Thank goodness for my waterproof phone!

It was such a wonderful trip guys. My impression of China has changed completely. I shall show you more pictures in a separate post and in my Sports+Travel article that will be coming out in print.. Bye for now, I’m going to India.