Blue Sky Lounge @ Ulaanbaatar

The Blue Sky Lounge is located on the 23rd floor of the Blue Sky building, a sail shaped thing in the center of Ulaanbaatar. From the window you can appreciate the dated cityscape of a developing third world country, vast snow covered hills surrounding the city and gigantic columns of pollution rising up from the West. The beer selection here was a waste, however the crispy pork belly dish reminded me of some of the best meals I had when I was living in Sydney.

Blue Sky Building
View East

MB Beer Plus @ Ulaanbaatar

MB Beer Plus is a cozy little brewery and restaurant located close to central Ulaanbaatar. They serve 4 beers here(Wiezen, Amber, Lager and Black Consul) and a mix of international and local food. When I dropped in I had beef dumpling soup and a couple of beers to start my day; the Dark Consul had a dry effervescent taste to it and the warm soup was a great to compliment to the -20 C temperature outside. Each of the breweries I visited in UB was oriented toward a German style experience, however I felt like MB Beer plus had the most original tasting beer and overall atmosphere compared to the others. The rest of the town must agree, because when I dropped in at night the place was buzzing with energy.

Dark Consul and Amber

Grandma Liu @ Lijiang Baisha Village

Lijiang's Baisha Village is an old Naxi settlement, located north of old town near the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. When I read about the village there was a comment on the post explaining that if you are approached by an old lady who invites you into her house to share some tea, that its totally normal. So when I was walking through the village 3 hours later and this happened to me, I thought I would give it a shot.

She took me into her recently remodeled house and sat me down at an old wooden table with a pile of guest books on it. If there is such thing as a Naxi accent, I'm pretty sure this lady has it, I was unable to understand almost anything she said. Luckily she understood me when I asked if she had any beer(Ni You Pijou Ma?), she went into her kitchen, dug through some dirty boxes for a minute and then a large bottle of local Baijiu was dropped in my lap.

Grandma Liu

Lijiang Old Town

With approval to kill an extra day in south china, I hopped off of my connection stop at Lijiang and got myself a cab. The cold temperature and the fresh mountain air combine with the view of the mountains made the drive into the city feal like I was arriving at mammoth lakes. After being dropped of on the edge of old town, I hiked to the top of Shizi Shan GuangYuan (Lion Mountain Park) and walked around for a bit trying to find a hotel I liked from agoda.

Since I don't have a cell phone, I just took some photos of the coolest hotel's website before leaving Jinghong, and after failing to find the place where I expected, I practiced Mandarin by asking the Lion Park workers for help. They were nice enough to call the hotels number from the website I'd photo'd and to my luck the hotel workers said I was close enough for them to walk over and guide me back.

I took a bit of time to walk around in the old town after I checked in, what I found was neat yet also disturbing. It was as if an asteroid from planet tourism had come down and exploded right here, leaving a giant smoldering crater of shops, bars, and restaurants all on beautifully decorated walking streets. As the sun went down I saw the light change, and was able to run up the hill in time to catch a photo of the famous Lijiang rainbow.

Lijiang Rainbow
Looking down from my room

Jinghong @ Xisuangbanna

There is nothing super special about Jinghong, however if you've been working for a month with no days off in a dark room in Beijing, this might as well be Paris or Cape Town. This city and the surrounding area is about the opposite of most of the cities I've been to in China, my experience is mostly northern and kind of lacking perspective. A country's border can only define so much, and this city is close enough to Lao and Burma that it begins to melt together with them.

Lots of motorcycles

Damenglong Black Pagoda @ Xishuangbanna

After my Menghai tea experience I decided to shoot in a different direction today, the black and white pagoda's of the city of Damenglong. Instead of opting for a taxi like I had the day before I decided to ask the hotel travel desk for advice, who said it would be best to just catch the bus from the short distance bus station for 15 rmb. I took there advice and after picking up some random parts of a pig from the butcher down the street, I walked my way over. Unfortunately I learned here that you have to buy this ticket from the south station, and had to rush to find a cab across town. After a small scramble for about 30 minutes I finally got my ticket and made it on to the bus with a beer in my hand.

When I got off at Damenglong I managed to ask a girl at a local shop which direction the black and white things were, she was able to decipher that this meant the pagodas and pointed in there respective directions. There are no signs in English here and I'm unable to read Chinese, so my attempt to find my way was based on following my gut instinct and asking primitive Chinese questions to anyone who would listen.

View driving south
In the bus!