After overdoing it slightly with Tiger Leaping Gorge, I’ll keep it brief with Shaxi, the place we headed to next.
Shaxi is simply the prettiest and most pleasant place I have ever been in China. It’s not stunningly beautiful or dramatic. It’s a quiet town surrounded by tidy little Bai villages and rice paddies; a place to come put up your feet and nap in the sun when life in China gets you down.
Things to do in Shaxi include reading, writing, sipping tea, going for bucolic walks, and watching the stars. And feeding the ducks.
I’d like to give a little plug for Mr. Wu’s Dragonfly Guesthouse; we didn’t stay there, but we did take a beautiful walk to have dinner there. I recommend you do the same; Mr. Wu has converted an old village theater into a guesthouse, restaurant, and possible organic farming project – plus, his mother cooks like a dream.
To get to Shaxi, take a bus from Lijiang to Jianchuan, and then a van on from there. The whole thing takes maybe 4 hours.