the old town of shuhe: a charming town along the ancient tea route

Saturday, February 7:  When we hop on the bus in Baisha, we ask the driver, “Shuhe?”  He waves us to the back, which is the usual way Chinese people let you know you’re in the right place. I never know if I’m pronouncing Chinese names properly, thus I never know if people understand where I want to go.

On the bus, we chat with an American expat who is working in Lijiang.  I’m so envious.  What a place to work!  If I were working in Yunnan province, I’d definitely think twice about leaving China.  Nanning, on the other hand, I will easily be able to leave.  Guangxi and Yunnan are two different worlds.

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has listed the Old Town of Shuhe as an important component of Lijiang.  It is a well-preserved example of a town along the tea-horse ancient road that led to Tibet.  Leather products were the town’s specialty.  Shuhe is one of the earliest settlements of the ancestors of the Naxi people.  It is called “the hometown of springs,” and the Naxi minority regard the streams as holy.

The bus drops us shortly on the edge of Shuhe, and we wander into the labyrinth of streets to see what the town is all about.

Shuhe

Shuhe

We stop at an adorable family run cafe where Alex has an apple-carrot juice and I have a mango smoothie. We enjoy looking at the framed photographs on the wall of the family’s holidays in Yunnan.

Alex in a cute cafe

Alex in a cute cafe

outside of the cafe

outside of the cafe

There is a deep pool at the end of the town called Long Pool (Dragon Pool); it’s the source of water that winds through the village in neat canals.

waterways through Shuhe

waterways through Shuhe

more waterways in the town

more waterways in the town

Shuhe's cute streets

Shuhe’s cute streets

Cafe on the Creek

Cafe on the Creek

Old Town of Shuhe

Old Town of Shuhe

what-not shop

what-not shop

the creek

the creek

streets of Shuhe

streets of Shuhe

at the end of a lane

at the end of a lane

foodstuff for sale

foodstuff for sale

We are both delighted with this adorable town and wish we had come earlier.

personal space

personal space

cafe

cafe

gardens

gardens

streets of Shuhe

streets of Shuhe

cheery businesses

cheery businesses

Pony time

Pony time

Horse-drawn carriage

Horse-drawn carriage

bicycles

bicycles

flowers

flowers

We don’t have any particular aim here, so we just wander aimlessly.  I love meandering through this quaint town, enjoying the old wooden buildings, the colorful scarves and ponchos in the shops, the red lanterns and yellow flags, the signs with their artistic Chinese characters, the chalkboard menus, the potted plants and ivy, the bare weeping willows and trees, and the reflections in the canals.  This town has a lot fewer tourists than Lijiang, which is a much bigger town.

canal through town

canal through town

walking on water

walking on water

reflections

reflections

lady in waiting

lady in waiting

serene scene

serene scene

We catch a bus back to Lijiang for 10 yuan, a much cheaper fare than the 80 yuan we paid a taxi to get to Baisha.  On the bus, we meet a  Chinese mother traveling with her son; he is on holiday from his university in Shanghai.  The mother can’t speak English, but the son can, and he asks us a lot of questions about our travels.  I think it’s marvelous that as a mother and son traveling together, we meet another mother and son from a different culture and are able to have a lively conversation with them.

Back in Lijiang, we’re dropped at the north gate and we make our way back slowly to the south end of town.  This time, we take a street we’ve missed on our walks before now; this street is like Shuhe’s in that it has a stream running beside the streets.

spitting yellow frogs

spitting yellow frogs

bursting with color

back in Lijiang ~ bursting with color

cafe scene

cafe scene in Lijiang

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

cafe in Lijiang

We find these ethnic Naxi ladies sitting on a bridge.  I am so disappointed later to find how blurry the picture turned out. 😦

ethnic ladies in traditional costume

ethnic ladies in traditional costume

Back in the square near our hotel, the sun is going down and a warm and waning light is setting over the pavilions.

square near the south gate of Lijiang

square near the south gate of Lijiang

We go later to the restaurant where we ate dinner our first night in town.  This time Alex orders yak meat with peppers and I have steamed mountain fish with the head still on.  Despite the fish’s ugly face, the fish is tender and succulent and smothered in a most delicious sauce.  We both enjoy our meals immensely.

dinnertime cafe

dinnertime cafe

After dinner, we get cozy in our hotel room, where surprisingly we find an English movie on TV: James Bond’s Tomorrow Never Dies.  This is one of the few nights during our travels that we can find anything worth watching on Chinese TV.

Tomorrow morning we’ll be taking a bus to Shaxi, a town midway between Lijiang and Dali.  We have to take a long-distance bus to Jianchuan and then change buses to get to Shaxi.  I dread it, as I always hate taking buses in China, but there is no other way to get there.  I just have to take a deep breath and hop on the bus!

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Categories: Asia, China, Lijiang, Old Town of Shuhe, Travel, Yunnan Province | Tags: , , , , | 21 Comments

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21 thoughts on “the old town of shuhe: a charming town along the ancient tea route

  1. Gorgeous photos, what adventures you have! I love the idea of those narrow canals running down the middle of the streets, it’s kind of magical. xxx

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    • Thanks so much, Ailsa! It was great having 6 weeks off to travel; I was able to do a lot of exploring during that time. I loved those magical canals too; it was such an adorable little town. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So many nice little cafes, I’d want to try them all!

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    • I know, Gilly, I wanted to try them too! But we were only thirsty as we had just eaten lunch in Lijiang before coming here. At least we did stop for drinks!

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  3. Shuhe is a delightful town, and I love the stream running through the middle of the street. I wonder how many people have stumbled into it by accident? 🙂

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    • I loved that stream in the middle of the streets too, Elaine. I wonder too whether anyone has stumbled into it. I can’t imagine no one has! It was a very charming town. 🙂

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      • They have lots of little bridges over it, so perhaps that reduces the number of falls! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I was wondering the same thing, Is the water very deep? I mean, there are no barriers to stop children or indeed anyone from falling in. And is it clean? It looks clean from your photos, but I associate open water like that through a town as being used to dump all sorts of things into it, and mosquitoes or midges swarming around in the summer.

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      • No, Jude, the water isn’t deep in these canals. I could clearly see the bottom and in numerous spots I could see long grasses growing in the streams. It actually looked very clean. All of the towns I visited in Yunnan were super clean. 🙂 Sadly, I can’t say the same about Nanning.

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      • Any chance of a teaching job in that region then? Or are you still considering Japan?

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      • I’ll be done with China after my year is up, Jude. I am still considering Japan. However, I really want to be home for the fall and through the holidays before I go anywhere else. I would love to go somewhere other than Asia next time around.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sure you will come up with a plan 🙂

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      • I’m sure I will, but as of this moment, I haven’t even wanted to think of a plan. Just to return home for the fall and the holidays. 🙂

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  4. I have spent part of my afternoons touring with you and Alex. What a wonderful tour it has been with the colorful Chinese structures, dramatic mountains and serene lakes. And then there is the food – my dinner will not be nearly as interesting.

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    • Thanks so much, Carol. I’m glad you’re enjoying seeing a part of China that was new to me as well. We both enjoyed our time in Yunnan quite a lot. I think I did more than Alex, but I didn’t have unrealistic expectations. 🙂

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  5. What a lovely town! I’m really enjoying these glimpses of China, thanks. 🙂

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  6. So glad you are finding these quaint treasures amongst the hardship of travel.

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  7. Cathy, this is my kind of place! Anywhere with a stream/canal running through it 🙂 (I never thought about health and safety! Some of your blogger friends are very practically minded 🙂 ) I could be happy here. Off to read Mike’s impressions 🙂

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    • I feel the same, Jo. Give me a stream running through a town any time! I didn’t even give a thought to the safety issues. But then that’s me; I was blinded by the charm of it all, and the sound of the flowing water. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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