If you ever find yourself in Lijiang, Yunnan, China, make sure to stay with Mama Naxi. The Chinese version of an Italian grandmother takes care of all the awesome native-and-adopted-English-speaking backpackers, feeding us family style dinners for 10 yuan (a buck and a half), banana pancakes (flatbread + banana = yum), and organizes travel tickets all over China and mini busses to Tiger Leaping Gorge. If you need a reason to be in Lijiang and Mama Naxi isn't sufficient motivation, do an image search for Tiger Leaping Gorge. Then you'll have a reason to come.
When you come to Lijiang, be sure to take a side trip to Shuhe. Like Lijiang, the streets are cobbled, and the rooves are fanciful. But Shuhe's streets are wider, their canals bubblier, their shop owners more laid back. In all, it's a more photogenic city. And it's an Oficial AAAA Chinese Tourist Site. American measurements usually only go up to AAA, but China's undergone immense growth in the last few decades, so they'va had to import some additional As from Africa.
Tomorrow night (Chinese New Year), we fly to je ne sais pas banana pancake (Xishuangbanna), a jungle region in southern Yunnan which has warm weather, diverse people, and lots of fruits for us to devour.