One More Day

Lijiang China

Mei you,” Baba was shaking his head no with the phone in his hand. You hear mei you used a lot in China; it means ‘cannot.’

No more buses to Chengdu today, so looks like I get one more sunny day in Lijiang.

I can tell when it is time to leave a place. New faces begin to arrive, the conversations — mostly about the nearby Tiger Leaping Gorge or Tibet — all start to sound the same. I can feel my chi disconnect with a place and then I know it is time to move on. This might take 10 days or two days, but I always know. In my typical slow-traveler fashion, I was the very last out of a group of eight friends to leave Lijiang.

I’m not going to lie: I made the decision to go 22 hours north to Chengdu to try the famous, spicy Sichuan food. Yes, I will travel 1,000 kilometers just to eat good food. I haven’t had proper spicy food since Thailand last year.

I decided to make the best of my day and went to the square, where I sat in the sunshine and watched thousands of Chinese tourists in tour groups make their way around the square, always following close to their valiant leader who carries a colored flag and megaphone.

It’s annoying as hell, actually.

There were even Chinese tourists waiting in line to dress up as cowboys to have their photos taken.

I was sitting there minding my own business, smoking a Chinese cherut cigar (just a twisted tobacco leaf) and had my sunglasses on. Next thing I know, someone is taking a picture of me. Then another, then another, then the whole bloody tour group stopped by. I was sitting on my little wall in my own little world, meanwhile they started shooting at me with SLR cameras. WTF? Too bad I couldn’t pass as a movie star, or better yet, had been wearing some traditional Naxi clothes — I could have charged money!

I don’t like being in the spotlight — especially when people are saying things about me that I can’t understand — so I made a run for the Black Dragon Pool park here just a 30-minute walk from the square.

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  1. When they start taking pictures of you, start taking pictures of them!! When they stare, stare back! After 4 years in Asia nobody can beat me in a staring contest!!! How do you think Marta and I got into the Shaolin Temple for free?!!! We won the staring contest…. jajajaja….

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