We were determined to do the Lion Mountain today. Walking around after we had gotten back last night we had seen a road sign with it on there, so we had an idea where to go now. Following that lead led to another road sign and another. It was in this way we came to a large park. The signs had stopped so we thought this may be it. Entering in, we realised quickly that it wasn’t, but it was still a nice place to walk around with an ancient pagoda to one side and a small temple at the back.
Having looked around it was time to move on.
Following the only other road, we meandered around a hill, and off into a small valley. The start of the walk was here. I don’t know where the other blog had gotten their details, but it was our fault for not confirming them with locals.
A big open space after getting your tickets leads you to the first steps. They are a whole new staircase. There is an older path up the hill, but this is the most direct, so we started our assent and count 1, 2, 3, 4…. 22, 23, 24, 25 and stop. Phew. These steps are steep.
Here as well was a god look back down showing how little distance we had covered. Only 974 steps to go. As we climbed the mountain different lions became visible, there were solitary lions, lions with their mates and entire families of lions.
After a few hundred steps there was a pavilion, flanked by lions It also marked a break in the steps for a while. We walked along the shady path and then started climbing again. Following a stream now with a few small ponds. The cliffs came in and we had to go under some large fallen boulders to continue. By now we were at almost 900 steps, so it shouldn’t be that much further.
Another three hundred steps later we were at the base of a temple complex. As far as we were concerned this was it. We had done over 1200 steps and now we would explore the area. We could finally stop counting. Only the main part of the temple was in this section of the valley, as there were also a series of hanging shrines. These also involved a lot of steps up to explore them.
Most were easy to get to, but the very top one was difficult. The steps were very shallow niches carved into the cliff. There was a handrail, but you wouldn’t trust it as far as it wobbled. Some sections were no longer attached,, and the rest was completely overgrown with weeds. Very cautiously we made it to the top. This did give us a great view down and around, with a small statue situated at the very top to receive blessings.
Having made it all this way it was time to go back down, although we didn’t try to count the steps or the lions. This different perspective did make a few more lions appear out of the rocks that we had missed on the way up.
Then back to catch our bus to Lijiang. The walk back didn’t take nearly as long, and we made it back with plenty of time to spare.
The bus to Lijiang was uneventful, and then we were winding through the streets of Lijiang. The new town surrounds the old town, and luckily the bus station is just south of the old town (when it finally gets there after taking some very weird, narrow streets to avoid one way streets and doing u-turns.
The walk from the station to old town was helped by a friendly Chinese guy that pointed us in the right direction, and even walked part of the way with us. This was great, and we always appreciate the help. There have been few times where we wished we spoke Chinese (well, lots really) and this was one of them, as the guy was very nice.
On entering the old town, we needed to find accommodation. It was getting on dark, and we walked past a small market place that was closing up for the night. We tried a few of the more obvious hotels, and they were too expensive or wouldn’t accept us. Trying the smaller ones we struck success first go. The place was a small courtyard building off a main street, and very nicely decked out. There was a small upstairs terrace and the rooms were on the ground floor looking into the courtyard.
The people here were also very nice and helpful as we settled in. Then off to walk around the sites of town.
Lijiang is a beautiful town to walk around at night, as it is all lit up and bustling, but not too many people were around. We didn’t go too far as we have plenty of time to explore tomorrow, just enough to get our bearings and see the few streets around us.