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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
After crossing the bridge over to the other side, I run into a cow wandering about, nibbling on bushes.
I was hoping to get a view of the lake from the other side, but all I can see are the waterfalls.
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.
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.
I walk up quite a way because the views are so spectacular.
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.
Our driver drops us at the south gate of the old town, where we make our way back to the hotel.
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!
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.
We top off our meal with a mango cream dessert, the perfect & calming ending to a rather tense day.