|After our experience in Lijiang, we were happy to head to our retreat in the mountains to the Northwest.
Lugu Lake is 2685 meters high, and the bus ride is six hours to get there. During that time we passed over several mountains and valleys. The drop off was severe along the mainly dirt road and our driver was quite Chinese, honking and passing on blind corners.
The minibus we were on was so small that I was forced to turn sideways because of the metal bar in front of the door.
Just as we pulled into the halfway point, the bus broke down (I believe the transmission). We were stuck at a funny little cafe arranged around a central garden with a marijuana plant innocuously growing near the center. Apparently the people don't take much notice of the stuff in Yunnan, but after living in Korea and the USA we were quite shocked!
We'd been having a discussion of the worst bathroom we'd ever been in on the bus ride up. Apparently this bathroom was up for consideration on Annie's part--perhaps too much as she dropped the camera into the cesspit! We washed it off as best we could; later that day it began to work again, though its dignity will never be the same!
After a two hour delay and another three on the road, we finally arrived. The setting that greeted us was exactly what I'd been wanting: few people, few buildings and stunning scenery. We got in late and stayed in the cheapie room, but shopped around for a better room and booked a lake view with a king size bed on the second (there are only two story buildings) floor. Price? About $16.
This second room was amazing; it reminded me of many places in the parks of Canada. Man did it have some ghastly grey spiders that were luckily nocturnal though!
The next day we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise on the lake and the sight of women herding ducks into the ponds between our hotel and the lake. After wandering by the lake, we decided to book a rowboat out to a central island that has a Buddhist temple and a famous anthropologist/naturalist's house.
One of the magical things about Lugu is that they don't allow motorized boats on the lake. We had perfect peace as the two Chinese men steadily carried us to the island. One of the guys looked a bit like the Marlboro Man. They pointed out sights to us and the clouds broke as we got halfway to the island. I'd forgotten about sun exposure at high altitudes, and both of us got pretty good sun burns!
Both the lake and the island are ringed what at first appears to be foam, but on closer inspection proves to be beautiful white water-flowers.
Sadly, Lugu Lake is due to have an airport built in the near future. No longer will you have to chance the landslides, steep drops, and poor buses. Because of this new route, buildings were being furiously erected at a rate of one new hotel for every two already existing. We both hope that Lugu will not become like Lijiang.
The people there are an equally charming part of the area. The Mosuo people greatly remember Native Americans and most of the men prefer to wear their hair to their shoulders. The Mosuo also have the world's only matriarchal society, though the publicity on this fact has been over-advertised.
After only two days, we sadly decided to leave, as our visa for Vietnam started the 13th.