a tense afternoon at blue moon valley

Friday, February 6:  After the cable car deposits us at the bottom of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, we find there are several long and chaotic queues to get on buses to various destinations.  Luckily, Merry at the hotel wrote the name of Blue Moon Valley in my little notebook, so I show it to various people to make sure we’re in the right line.  There are tour groups aplenty in our line, aggressive Chinese tourists pushing and shoving their way to the front.  The jostling is enough to try anyone’s patience.  I don’t care if people are Chinese and I’m not; I absolutely stand firm against anyone who tries to cut in front of me, and I can be very nasty when someone does.

I’m not happy about this queue and such aggressiveness, but I’m trying to put on a positive face because I really want to go to Blue Moon Valley.  Alex isn’t even trying to hide his irritation and I can tell he just wants to give up and return to Lijiang.

The worst thing is that buses seem to be coming only sporadically, and there is a long time between them. No vehicles except park-run buses are allowed in the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Scenic Area.  This is good for avoiding traffic jams, but bad if it is very crowded and buses don’t run frequently enough.

We finally get on a bus which takes us along winding mountain roads to the valley at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.  Blue Moon Valley has beautiful lakes full of blue water and nice stone terraces.

Blue Moon Valley

Blue Moon Valley

According to a sign in the park:  “The name Mirror Lake comes from an antiphonal song sung by Naxi men and women.  The lake looks clear and bright like a copper mirror.”  The rest of the sign has a lot of incomprehensible “Chinglish” that I can’t even begin to decipher.  What I don’t understand is why Chinese officials who are writing signs, maps, or other tourist literature in English don’t get native English speakers to proofread their English before they put it into official literature!  There are certainly plenty of Westerners who speak English here in China.

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake

When we first arrive, we’re both hungry for lunch, but we don’t see any restaurants.  There are however, some food stalls.  We put together an array of snacks from the food stalls: corn on the cob, pork dumplings, boiled eggs, and skewered meat.  We carry them down the hill toward the lake, where we sit on some rocks and have a picnic.

There are tourists aplenty at this spot, and this is where Alex is about to lose it.  He is becoming increasingly annoyed by all the people and he makes his irritation clear to me.  My own tension over his attitude is building, but at this point I let it slide.  Little do I know the tension will erupt into a showdown later this afternoon.

Mirror Lake at Blue Moon Valley

Mirror Lake at Blue Moon Valley

Crowds of people are climbing over the stone terraces over which water is flowing; these terraces are much like man-made waterfalls.  For some bizarre reason, Alex and I decide to join the hordes trying to cross.  This makes me very nervous as I have to make several leaps across the water onto slippery rocks.  I do not want to fall into the water and ruin my camera, losing all my pictures!  At one point where a long leap is required, I decide I’ll turn around and go cross further up the lake, where an actual bridge is built over the water. 🙂

Mirror Lake with Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the distance

Mirror Lake with Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the distance

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake

Waterfalls at Mirror Lake

Waterfalls at Mirror Lake

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

After crossing the bridge over to the other side, I run into a cow wandering about, nibbling on bushes.

a wandering cow

a wandering cow

I was hoping to get a view of the lake from the other side, but all I can see are the waterfalls.

waterfalls at Mirror Lake

waterfalls at Mirror Lake

waterfalls at Mirror Lake

waterfalls at Mirror Lake

At this point, Alex decides he wants to cross over the rocky waterfall terraces from the far side of the lake.  I tell him I’ll go ahead and cross back over and walk up to the top of the other man-made waterfall.  There is a big rock there where the multitudes are posing and taking selfies.  I point to the rock and tell him I’ll meet him there after I walk up further along the lake toward the mountain.

Mirror Lake at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Mirror Lake at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Looking away from Jade Dragon Snow Mountain over Mirror Lake

Looking away from Jade Dragon Snow Mountain over Mirror Lake

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

As I’m walking up the path to the big rock, I see Alex trying to cross the rocky terraces from the other side.  Suddenly I hear a shrill whistle.  I’m surprised no officials have tried before now to stop all these people from doing this dangerous activity, but now someone is yelling and motioning for everyone to get off the terraces.  I wince, knowing Alex is going to be really upset that he wasn’t able to climb across.

Meanwhile, I take my time strolling along the path beside the lake, where I take some beautiful pictures of the aquamarine water and the mountains beyond.

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake

I walk up quite a way because the views are so spectacular.

Mirror Lake at Blue Moon Valley

Mirror Lake at Blue Moon Valley

tree and bush :-)

tree and bush 🙂

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Mirror Lake at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

When I walk back to the rock to meet Alex, I see no sign of him anywhere.  His phone from the U.S. doesn’t work here in China unless he’s on wi-fi, so I can’t call him or even text him.  I wait and wait and wait and am getting really impatient.  I wonder if he has gotten on the bus to go back because the place is not that big and I can’t see him anywhere.  I don’t know what to do.  I don’t even know if he knows the name of our hotel.

Finally, after about a half-hour, I leave the rock and start walking back to the bus stop.  Along the way, I finally run into him.  He says, “Where have you been?”

I tell him that I walked up ahead just as I told him I was going to.  I ask in return, “Where have YOU been?”  He says he waited forever at the rock; he never heard me say I was walking up ahead.  He’s pissed and I’m even more pissed because I’ve really had it with his attitude.

Finally, I say to him: “Listen, you need to shape up your attitude now.  I told you before you came that you needed to prepare yourself for crowds of people here in China.  There is nothing you can do about it, so just accept it and take it for part of the cultural experience.  I am on my holiday and I’m not going to let you ruin it for me.  If you want to come along with me, fine, but you need to change your attitude.  Now.”

I march off leaving him to follow behind me.  We don’t speak for a good long while, until we’re finally back on a bus in route to the main entrance to the park.  There, we meet our driver, who has been waiting for us all day.

When we get back in the driver’s car, we’ve both relaxed a bit.  We enjoy the last views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain on the way back to Lijiang.

On the drive back from Mirror Lake - last views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

On the drive back from Mirror Lake – last views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Last views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Last views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

clouds nestle into Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

clouds nestle into Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Our driver drops us at the south gate of the old town, where we make our way back to the hotel.

Restaurant in Lijiang

Restaurant in Lijiang

square in Lijiang Ancient Town

square in Lijiang Ancient Town

Hotel in Lijiang

Hotel in Lijiang

We rest for a long while in the hotel, as we’re both exhausted from the outing.  Later, as we’re heading out to dinner, we ask Merry if she can recommend a place for us to eat.  She leaves her post at the hotel and walks quite a long way with us to show us her favorite restaurant.  She’s the best!

the restaurant where we have dinner

the restaurant where we have dinner

We have a lovely meal here.  Alex orders goat meat and vegetables (he’s brave!) and I have bok choy with mushrooms and garlic.  We share each other’s dishes some, enjoying the meal immensely.   We’re okay with each other now; we made it through a stressful day and I’m hoping the rest of the trip will go more smoothly than it did today.

Goat meat & vegetables for Alex and bok choy, mushrooms and garlic for me

Goat meat & vegetables for Alex and bok choy, mushrooms and garlic for me

We top off our meal with a mango cream dessert, the perfect & calming ending to a rather tense day.

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Categories: Asia, Blue Moon Valley, China, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Lijiang, Mirror Lake, Travel, Yulong Xue Shan, Yunnan Province | Tags: , , , , | 20 Comments

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20 thoughts on “a tense afternoon at blue moon valley

  1. Easy to get a bit snippy when you’ve been hanging about waiting, Cathy. Especially when you don’t know what the heck you’ll do if you don’t find each other! The scenery is incredible though- again! I don’t suppose all those Chinese people realise how lucky they are to have it.

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    • Yes, Jo, waiting is never a good things for people’s tempers, is it? Lucky for us, it all worked out in the end and Alex didn’t get lost forever in China!

      I think the Chinese people are very aware of the special places they have. They’re very proud of all the places in their country. I’ve actually found that to be the case almost everywhere I’ve traveled. Koreans and Omanis were also very proud of their countries. Although I enjoyed Myanmar a lot, I did have one Burmese guy ask me why on earth I liked Burma. He decidedly didn’t because it was “so poor.” I guess he meant he was poor, and struggling to make a living, and thought life could be better elsewhere.

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  2. The views are spectacular and worth the crazy bus trip to see that lake! And the bok choy and garlic and mushrooms looks amazing! Love garlic stalks! A delicacy strangely overlooked in the West.

    The colour of the lake is amazing, sorry about the tension. It makes you aware of though from Alex’s point of view (not that his impatience is supported), that if anything happened to YOU, what would he do? He did not know the name of the hotel or have any way of dealing with communication or travel (both nightmares for sure) in China.

    That is a scary lesson when you are travelling, how trusting you are, and even when you cannot read or speak the local language, you have no back-up plan how to cope or what to do should something go wrong and you lose the person you are travelling with.

    I remember still my first week in Tokyo when I decided to go for a walk at night and did not pay attention to my surroundings I was so pleased with myself that I had found a place to live and a job and things were going so well. But it took many panicked HOURS for me to find my way back to my flat at night. All the streets and signs were in Japanese and it was dark and I did not know how to describe where I lived. It was terrifying to be so helpless and illiterate and alone. I was in tears when I finally recognized our washing line!

    Please make sure Alex has important information written down somewhere and safely next to his passport regarding what to do in an emergency! (And tell him to please be more respectful towards his mother no matter how impatient he gets!).

    Cannot wait for the next installment!!

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    • I’ve been lost before too, Mona Lisa, and it is no fun. i was hopelessly lost late one night in Toledo; luckily I did have the name of my hotel and so was able to find my way home. I think you’re right; I should have made sure Alex had better information. Then maybe neither of us would have been so tense and so easily upset. He did have money on him, so he could have just asked for a ride back to the main gate of the park, and we would have both met our driver. Hopefully we could have figured it out and Alex wouldn’t have been lost forever in China!!

      The bok choy, mushrooms and garlic were great, and those views were spectacular. I’ve learned to not be upset by all the tourists because I’ve been here for 7 months, but it did take some getting used to initially. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Go to the Canadian Rockies next time 😉 Equally beautiful, less crowded and they speak English!
    I like the last photos where you have captured the cloud rolling in over the mountain. That’s a gorgeous view. Hope you and Alex got on better for the rest of the trip. Is he a moody character normally?

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    • Thanks, Jude. I’ve been to the Canadian Rockies and yes they are beautiful, of course. But if I only went places where people speak English, I’d miss out on a lot!

      Alex can be moody in general; luckily for us, we did get along quite well for the rest of the trip. Thank goodness. 🙂

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      • Fortunately my kids are very laid-back, though that can drive me mad at times because they take so long to decide on anything! Solo travel is the answer 😀

        BTW I like the new theme. Showcases the photos well with the frame and the text is easy to read plus the comments with the crumpled paper effect. Works well for a travelogue, which I suppose is what is was designed for 🙂

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      • That’s good your kids are laid back, Jude. That does make for less tension all around. I love solo travel and will be heading solo to Hong Kong this weekend. Yay!

        Thanks, I’m glad you like the new theme. I use the same theme for my Africa blog, and I like a lot of things about it. 🙂

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      • Enjoy Hong Kong. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Jude! I’m always happy for a chance to travel on a long weekend or whenever I can squeeze it in. It beats work anytime. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ahh I’ve felt the tension building, did Alex have time to get over any jet lag before you set off? It’s hard isn’t it when you both had some anticipation of the trip together?

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    • He really didn’t have time to get over jet lag, Gilly. But he can be rather moody in general. I think he loved Oman so much, he was unrealistically hoping for a similar experience. 🙂

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  5. The scenery is fantastic – especially the colour of the water. I’m glad the day ended harmoniously. 🙂

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  6. Such a beautiful region of China. You captured it well. Traveling with an adult child can be trying. Old communication patterns creep up and before long, they are teenagers again who are making us crazy. Looking forward to more photos of your holiday. I fly to Shanghai from Seattle the day after to tomorrow for my first Asian trip and the one thing I am leery about is the immense number of people. But,mike you said, just see it as a cultural experience. However, like you, I am not very patient with rude pushy people either…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry it took me so long to respond, Vivian. Can’t wait to hear about your trip to Shanghai. Hope you’re having fun there now. I may be going there myself toward the end of April. Let me know what I should see and do.

      And yes, traveling with an adult child, or anyone really, can be difficult. It really is a shame that those old communication patterns have to creep back in.

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  7. As already commented above, the scenery is truly breath-taking. What a beautiful location. Too bad, so many people have to be there all at once. I can well imagine my own impatient response to such crowds and rudeness. Glad you set Alex straight 🙂

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    • Luckily I’ve had some time to adjust to the crowds, so I’ve learned not to expect much in the way of “having a place to myself,” Annette. It really is too bad about the crowds, but that’s China. India, I know for a fact, is even worse. At least China is doing something about it with their one-child policy. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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