A day to unwind before we head back to Hong Kong.
First thing to do was to visit my friend Afang whom I met in Zhongdian last year. Afang is a Taiwanese lady who used to work as an architect/interior designer in San Francisco and who apparently has the nicest houses in Zhongdian and Lijiang old towns – and they were absolutely right!
Afang, like the rest of the ‘tribe’ (as my pilot friend James like to call the group of foreigners united in their love for Zhongdian and all things Tibetan), was travelling in and around Tibet a couple of years ago and found herself in Zhongdian, a place so irresistible and opportunities so challenging that she stayed on ever since. Afang now runs the Karma Cafe in Zhongdian Old Town alongside her ‘adopt-a-house” preservation project. People who are interested in buying, or ‘adopting’, a traditional Tibetan style house can choose from some of the remaining houses in the Old Town upon which Afang and her team can redevelop and renovate the place for you. Prices for the houses are amazingly cheap. Foreigners are not allowed to own property in Zhongdian so for a two storey house about 2500 sq. ft you pay RMB$6500 per year for a renewable ten year contract!
After some tea at Afang’s we wondered around Lijiang Old Town looking for food. How much more pleasant Lijiang is during the day! Following Afang’s advice we walked into a less touristy street round the back of the old town called ‘Seven One Street’ (七一街) and found such nice little surprises: a cosy little bookstore/cafe, a very authentic northern Chinese dumpling eatery, sidewalk potato crisps ad chips, and a lovely teahouse overlooking the busier streets of the old town.