TUESDAY, AUGUST 1, 2006. LIJIANG, CHINA. At an elevation of 2500 meters (7500 feet), the ancient city of Lijiang is a beautiful pedestrian only maze of paths, walkways and bridges around small meandering canals and streams that wind their way between traditional buildings. Lijiang is also home to the Naxi people, a minority culture that dates back 1400 years with origins in Tibet. In 1999, the entire county was named a UNESCO world heritage site after restoration work subsequent to a major earthquake in 1996. This used to be a backpackers' mecca, but it's been discovered by and is chock full of Chinese tour groups (as well as French tourists). Still, it's a pleasant place to visit as the city is set in a lush valley with mountains surrounding it.
Lijiang is the jumping off point for trekking the Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the deepest gorges in the world, with the mighty Yangtze River roaring through the bottom of the gorge. I had planned to do the trek today, but I awoke to pouring rain. Summer is the rainy season here and, although you can do the trek in the rain, I've decided to wait a day or so to see if the weather clears (The weather was clear yesterday when I arrived).