Even though I knew that the streets of UNESCO World Heritage city Old Lijiang would be crowded, I felt it was important to spend at least a day there. Having just come from the small, rural village around Lashi Lake, seeing the throngs of Chinese tourists was a bit overwhelming. Although the architecture of the old shops was nicely restored, I didn't really appreciate how they were converted into stores selling cheap crappy trinkets, video game arenas, djembe drummers, etc. Nothing felt authentic. Along the main drags and town square, it was particularly crowded, making photography rather difficult.
Quite confident that an early morning start would change things, I went to bed earlier and set out the next morning when it was light. Streets that were overflowing with tourists the night before were now virtually abandoned.
Wandering through the streets, I was able to explore and photograph to my heart's content. Occasionally a couple other photographers were spotted.I loved being able to see the beautiful old buildings and enjoy the worn stone paving bricks, made smooth by the many travelers through the lanes.
Wandering through the streets of Lijiang during the early morning was a delight. Some great dramatic lighting, unencumbered by the throngs of visitors. I'm so glad that I had a different schedule than the majority. Tranquil, just the way I liked it.