Lijiang is what one might expect, pretty, not to poorly preserved, yet tourist stuff everywhere. The whole city is a World Heritage Site, marking my first.
I somehow ended up with a new accompaniment (nearly the same camera started a long conversation). So we spent the day walking around and taking photos. This place is beautiful, but, as it seems with most places in China: Come here in winter! In the summer, the people are thick and hard to get around, the rains make hiking too dangerous. Unfortunately Juanito I could not hike the leaping gorge because the rain has been unpredictable and strong. I think that is a next time goal.
The city is nice in that you can get a sense of the old way of life here. Its hard not to think of the people here as some kind of part of the tourist game. Like that they too are not real. I can't help but think what they think of the tourists that come and stare at them amazed that they use a many centuries old water system.
This is the second city where it seems tourism was just dropped on top of it. The people have have seen radical change here. Not too long ago this was not a tourist destination, now probably more than half of the summer population is from somewhere else.
PTI: To answer J's question in my comments, I did not see the stone forest. I wanted to, but I wanted to keep moving (I was afraid my time in Kunming might start stretching out pretty far).
That brings up something: I am traveling too fast for my taste, but, that may be for the best right now. I have seen Southern China when I came here with CU. Although it was way to fast and furious, I have been to some of these area at least. However the North is completely blank for me. As such, here in the South I am trying to travel with enough speed that I can be in the North with lots of time.
For now, Traveling has gotten a bit difficult here, getting up to Chengdu is being harder than it should be. For a while I thought I would have to first go back down to Kunming, or buy another plane ticket. As of now, I am taking a bus to an iron city and then take a train to Chengdu. I plan on chilling in Chengdu for three days or so, seeing Emeishan, the Bamboo sea, perhaps a famous national park North of there, and then off to Chongqing where I will brave Chinese tourists to take, god help me, a cruise. As I think that is the only way to see the three gorges, and more importantly for me, the three gorges dam.
After that, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Zhengzhou, Xi'an, and then the big one, Beijing (where I will spend a lot of time I hope).
That said, these places have been cool, but I can't get away from the people. I mean that in the bad way (damn tourists) and the good (I can't help but make friends). Everywhere I go I end up with someone to hang out with and talk with. This is either way better for me to get to know the Chinese people (and as they say, build connections), or way worse for me because I don't have as much introspection.
Last thing on this entry, the Chinese is doing good but has sudden moments of turning South, its clear why classes and not just talking all the time are valuable.