Hello there, and once again welcome back to this week’s “Bajan,” Chinese Style. To all the regulars, its good to see you again, and to any newcomers, prepare to embark on this wondrous mis-adventure throughout some of the most exotic areas of China. Pleasantries aside, let’s jump right into the fray with this weeks exposé which takes us to the breathtaking Lugu Lake of Northern Yunnan Province.
If we take a look at the map to the right, we can see that Lugu Lake is located very close to Shangri-la, ( Re: Simply Shangri-La) and thus, shares major geographical similarities with the Tibetan highland region. However, Lugu Lake is also located on the border with Sichuan province, and in fact a 1/3 of the lake is actually within the jurisdiction of that province (Refer to Travel Exposé: Yunnan Province).This interesting cartographical coincidence means that Lugu Lake is a veritable tapestry of varying geographical and biological diversity and beauty, ranging from soaring highland mountains, vast ‘seas’ of grass, coniferous and deciduous forests, misty valleys and of course, one of the largest and cleanest fresh water lakes in all of China.
Also worthy of note is that due to this sharing of borders, the already ethnically diverse Yunnan region is accentuated by the presence of typically “Sichuan” ethnic groups living literally, a stone’s throw away. This creates an interesting affair whereby as you travel from village to village, each one of them will have its own dialect and unique Mandarin accent.
There are many ways to get to Lugu Lake, but by far the most convenient and cost effective way is to book a personal driver, who can transport you directly to your hostel in the Lugu Lake area. These drivers can be easily booked as they usually have daily departures from the major cities of Yunnan, which include Lijiang, Dali, Shangri-La and Kunming. The price varies but usually should go no higher than 100 yuan.
Upon arrival, the first scene to greet you will be a visage of the lake in its entirety. Painted against the back drop of the magnificent ‘Goddess Mountain,’ as well as being bedazzled by various small villages which lay scattered along the perimeter of the lake, it truly makes a sight to remember.This scene is further enhanced especially if the weather is clear and sunny. If you happen to have such good luck, then you will see the awe-inspiring , ‘Lake mirror of the Sky’ for which Lugu Lake is famed. The Lake’s water is so impressively clean, that when the surface is placid, it perfectly reflects the sky and clouds floating so care-freely above.
That being said, the best time to visit Lugu Lake is early summer or mid-autumn. During early summer you can enjoy all the warmth of summer without the downside of the rainy season, which can see extensive downpours. Also, during early summer the surface of the lake explodes into a symphony of small, delicately fragrant white flowers, which lends an other worldly effect to the already exquisitely beautiful surroundings. During autumn, not only can you enjoy perfectly clear skies during the day, but also at night you can have unbelievable views of the milky way, and if you are lucky, one of the largest moons you may see in this lifetime. However, all this pales in comparison to the foliage, which sheds its lush green for the golden hues of the season. The effect is beyond compare.
Regardless of if you are unable to visit Lugu Lake during these times, it’s no cause for concern, for as I learnt from personal experience, the Lake is beauty incarnate and has an innate charm regardless of season and sometimes even weather, as we shall see in our next edition.
Thank you for reading and stay tuned for next week’s edition where we continue to explore the serene beauty that is Lugu!