Travel Log - Yunnan Part 2
Welcome to Part 2 of my travel log in Yunnan.
The next day we took a 5 hour drive up and down mountainous terrains to our next destination, Luge Lake.
Do you believe that my photos are mostly unedited and taken with my iPhone? The air is thin around this area and the UV is much stronger now that we are in high grounds. The colours appear even more vivid than usual. You can easily get sunburned at 18 Degree Celsius!
We set off from Lijiang early in the morning. The sun rises early in this region and sets around 9pm everyday.
I had my first experience driving up a mountain in a left hand drive car! #badass
On the way to Lugu Lake, we have to drive pass this area known as the 18-turns.
The weather is perfect and we had a great time enjoying the view and cool mountain breeze.
After 3 hours of non stop driving, we stopped by a random farmer's house for lunch. This is where I got utterly impressed by technology and how integrated the Chinese are, in embedding them into their everyday life.
Call me a city bumpkin.
Who'd expect high speed internet and cashless payments out here in the middle of nowhere, but in a tiny hut that rears their own chicken and grew their own vegetables?!
Well, this family certainly do. All transactions are done using mobile.
The food that we ate here is so fresh and delicious. I regret not taking more photos because we are famished and ate everything up in a jiffy.
The farmer calls this Ya-ya Gua (Ya ya melon?). We had it sliced and stir fried. Tasted like a winter melon and potato hybrid.
She also hacked off one of the sunflower in her backyard and gave it to us as appetizer while we wait for our food. It's huge!
Gua zi (Sunflower seeds) can't get any fresher than this!
Another 2 hours drive later, we got the first view of our destination.
Lugu Lake (泸沽湖)
A little bit about Lugu Lake, It is an alpine lake at an elevation of 2,685 metres (8,809 ft) and is the highest lake in the Yunnan Province. The span of the lake is 48.5 square kilometers that stretched between Yunnan and Sichuan. The lake is inhabited by many minority ethnic groups, such as the Mosuo, Norzu, Yi, Pumi and Tibetan. The most numerous of these are the Mosuo people (also spelt "Moso"), said to be a sub clan of the Naxi people.
We are finally closing onto our destination. As we slowly descends to the level of the lake, the little inns came into sight. I said inns not hotels because they are made up mostly of old cottages that have been there for centuries. Some of these houses are built using wood a few centuries old that have been passed down from generations to generations!
Staying in this area can be dirt cheap or very expensive. Either way, you will get to enjoy the view of the lake. I recommend staying at a middle range hotel because the more expensive one we stayed in is equally or almost as old as the ones that are slightly further away from the lake. Whereas the cheapest options might not provide proper sanitation.
We have finally arrived!
Our inn is a short walk away. Or you can canoe there if you like.
Charcoal roasted wild boar and chicken
There are nothing much to do here apart from absorbing the beauty of nature and to learn the ways of the aboriginals. Perfect for a day tour to simply relax and unwind.
Some people even brought their own fishing rods.
We participated in the campfire and folk dance with these friendly locals. Once again, the Chinese people amazed me in the most unusual way. I cannot find a group more extroverted than them. Everybody in the audience came from different regions. But when the host asked if anyone wants to join them in the dance, all of them cheered, stood up and ran forward. Not walk... RAN!
The dance soon became an impromptu karaoke session. Guests were invited to come up to sing whatever they like. Too many people wanted to participate and the host needs to cut short the singing as it is getting late.
Isn't any one shy in China?
While exploring the island in the morning (which is really tiny), I am utterly surprised when I see this!
彼岸咖啡馆 (Translate: Cafe on the other side)
A fully equipped cafe in the middle of the lake!?
This place checked everything on my list that screams good coffee:
Proper Espresso equipment ✓
Single origin coffee on menu ✓
Hipster looking barista ✓
SCAA Coffee tasting chart on the wall ✓
Big ass Apple computer ✓
Lots of pictures of cats ✓
2 live cats ✓
Say no more. I am going to order a few cuppas!
I sat down and spoke to the cafe owner. Turns out that her parents owned the inn behind her cafe. She was a trained barista who learned her craft in Taiwan. Family situation requires her to come back to help in the business. But she refused to let go of her passion and chose to set up a coffee place here. This is probably the one and only cafe that serves specialty grade beans in a 50km radius! She got her beans specially delivered in small batches via mail once a week.
I cannot imagine her logistic nightmare. Somehow this girl managed to pull it off all by herself. I can choose from Yunnan specialty grade beans to those that her mentor and friends roasted and sent to her from Taiwan.
Her business is also surprisingly good. All of her customers are tourist and they only visit once. (Probably in their lifetime) But she still manage to sell up to 40 cups of coffee a day. A feat in China considering her location!
The best part of the cafe is not the coffee. But this...
... insanely beautiful view at her alfresco area while you sip on your drink.
The waters are so clear, you can see bottom of the lake.
I ordered the single origin Yunnan Specialty beans much to the barista's protest. She comment that these beans are used to attract tourist and she didn't really like them herself. I got really amused by her down-selling her own product and ordered anyway. Later, she insisted to treating me to another cup of her mentor's roast.
Woes to being a coffee lover in business because we always end up sharing more than what we earn. But that's the beauty of the people in the community.
We love sharing.
I took a sip and understood why she didn't want to serve me this. The coffee was equally as underwhelming as the previous one I had. It lacks body and had a unique aroma of spices that is not for everybody. Smells a little like herbal tea with coriander? Now I know why Yunnan's coffee never become popular.
The milk based coffee on the other hand is done beautifully. The beans she used were specially roasted and delivered to her from her mentor. The milk they used are from Mongolia and tasted really strong. It is very rich and might overpower weaker coffees with the high fat content.
We had dinner in a restaurant near by and it blacked out. That didn't stop us from enjoying our steamboat barbecue!
Oh did I mention that it is cashless as well?
The next day, we drove back to Li Jiang.
The final installment of my Yunnan travel log, I will showcase a place that I have chanced upon in the old city where they serve 90+ and geisha coffee!
Stay tuned for part 3.