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Pizza Luo!!!

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! We have finally gotten to Pizza Luo (again), just this time, we’ve got our CAMERA!!

The staff of Panba LOVE the pizzas made by the pizza veteran, who is otherwise very simply known as “Mr. Luo”. He was once the head chef at a pizza restaurant before he decided he wanted to just have his own cozy little place where he could simply serve pizzas the way he wants to. (Thankfully, they’re AWESOME)

The pizzas here are petite, almost adorable little things, and yet they don’t feel small when you eat them. There is definitely at least 5 times as much topping as there is crust, and while this is in part due to the crust being paper-thin, it really lets the flavors somewhat scream out at you, while at the same time tasting surprisingly subtle.

This is especially true with the Spicy Beef Pizza, which is, for good reason, his best-selling pizza. Despite the obvious, a light spiciness that is unlikely to be overwhelming even to those who tend to stay away from the chillies, and beef, it is also surprisingly sweet, and yet it pulls away just in time, with just enough savory flavor to be just as enjoyable even to people who think they HATE sweet foods, just in the exact same manner that our favorite curries do (some among us will probably find that it tastes JUST LIKE curry).

Every single time we get a guest who would like some comfort food, Pizza Luo is always among our very top suggestions. No one so far has ever said anything less than a, “This is REALLY good. Really REALLY good!!!” and so while we would not guarantee that it’ll be the best pizza you’ve ever had, if you like pizza at all, we are pretty sure that it will definitely be among your favorites.

See more of our favorite spots here!

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Free dreadlocks at Panba!

Our awesome guest from Canada, Keaven, gives our staff member Linda dreadlocks. If you want some, be sure to come by to Panba before he leaves! Heh. Only condition, of course, is to be fun and to make friends with him. :)

Here at Panba we always love to share our loves and joys with our guests. Keaven up here is one of the coolest guests we’ve gotten recently, who would with his girlfriend Sylvie likely be the cutest couple we have seen in Panba over the last month.

They are so adorable and fun, and they truly add to the warmth of Panba, and we now find that we miss them so very much now that they’ve gone off to the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Keaven, Sylvie, we’re waiting for you guys! Can’t wait till you guys come back tomorrow. :)

过桥米线: Across the bridge noodles

Today the staff of Panba brought our guests from New Jersey, Grace & Justin to have some 过桥米线: which literally translates to “cross the bridge rice noodles”. About 5 minutes away from Panba by taxi, or about 15 minutes on foot. The restaurant, called Original Mengzi Cross Bridge Rice Noodles, serves nothing else, and has been in business for many years, and seems to have been using the very same recipe all this time.

You can find out more about the story behind the Across Bridge Rice Noodles right here!

On an entirely subjective note, we think that if you have ever tried it anywhere else and have been sorely disappointed by all the hype surrounding it, you should give it another chance here, because it somehow strikes a great balance of being incredibly affordable at 10RMB (about US$1.5), while being one of the best-tasting offerings in the Yunnan province.

The secret is all in the broth!

The Tiger Leaping Gorge: THE spot to see in Lijiang?

Rare is the hot-blooded, passionate traveler who comes to Panba Hostel and does not ask about the Tiger Leaping Gorge (虎跳峡: Hu Tiao Xia.) It did, after all, get the highest backpackers’ rating for “the place to be in china” according to Passplanet.com! We have, however, finally dragged our unbelievably lazy and near un-motivate-able photographer / writer / blog editor over there, and so now we can finally have a post for it, complete with lots of PICTURES!!! :D

We expect that you guys will have read up on the Tiger Leaping Gorge on your own before checking us out, so we will just be using snippets of basic information from other more-reliable sources, as will be stated below this article, while focusing mainly on experience itself, as according to our guests and our staff as well!

The Tiger Leaping Gorge is so-named because; according to legend; it is said that in order to escape from a hunter, a tiger jumped across the river at the narrowest point (still 25 metres wide). The gorge is not considered navigable, and in fact, in the early 1980s, four rafters attempted to go down the gorge and were never seen again. That was a long time ago though, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anything more impressive than this.

We embarked on our little Tiger Leaping Gorge Adventure with the English studs Mark, James, and our new German friend, Stefan. Following them, not much as guides but more as two people tagging along; although they occasionally functioned as translators and hagglers – were our staff members Ken & Linda.

 

 

The Tiger Leaping Gorge is so much more than a simple hiking trip to view some impressive scenery. It is also a great place to meet locals living their lives the way they really do, unlike some places where they are actually paid to be present in order to add to the atmosphere.

The Tiger Leaping Gorge is a challenging trek, especially for the inexperienced, and anyone who has a problem with heights (like our good ol’ Ken).

Good shoes, trainers at least, are a must, due to the terrain, which consists mostly of dirt and rocks, which can get slippery especially in wet weather. A hiking stick is actually provided for free at Panba as well, so be sure to grab it if you think you’ll need it. The paths are narrow and can be risky because there are no safeguards to prevent you from falling right off, so it is strongly recommended that if you have a hangover or if you’re already plain drunk to give it a day’s rest before you proceed.

For anyone who still wants to see the sights without having to brave the hike, there are also mules for rent, that will bring you through the toughest spots. It isn’t exactly overpriced either, provided you have someone who can speak Chinese and haggle on your behalf. ;)

The trekking route is relatively straightforward, but in order to make sure you don’t get lost (and also so they can get your business, since you can’t make money from missing customers); the locals and hostels have drawn arrows along the path, mostly on rocks so that you can be sure that you’re on the right path.

 

Along the trip, you are likely to spend the night at one of the hostels along the way, the two main ones being Tea Horse and Halfway Inn. We went to Halfway Inn, which was very cleverly located, and cleverly built as well.

The toilets, for example, that you’ll see right here, offer you a great view of the mountains while you do your business. This does, however, come with a crooked edge – the toilet is really little more than a hole in the ground. So if you appreciate a good toilet, you might want to give Halfway Inn a miss, or you could consider the private rooms.

Another tiny problem with the Halfway Inn is their coffee, which I reckon is made cowboy-style, meaning the ground coffee beans are thrown directly into hot water.

This would, of course, be perfectly fine, but only if they filtered it before serving it. It tastes fine though!

There are spots along the Tiger Leaping Gorge that are specially-made for photographers to take photos, strategically chosen for their locations that tend to offer the best views of the gorge. These do, however, often come with a small fee, and so if you are not ready to pay for these, just hike right past them and try to find another spot to take your photos from. There are many other, somewhat unavoidable spots that will charge fees as well, ranging from 3 to 10RMB, so be sure to bring some extra cash along. Regrettably, we have not yet discovered any way to get around these, and it is unlikely that it will be easy to do so anyway.

 

Stefan taking after a photo

 

 

 

All in all, however, as something that is pretty darned hard to substitute now matter where else you may go in the world, the Tiger Leaping Gorge isn’t something for any real traveler to miss. No one so far has not been satisfied of their experiences from the Gorge, so it is pretty much guaranteed that you’ll love it too!

References below:

Wikipedia
Wikitravel
Passplanet

N’s Kitchen: Comfort food, anyone?

The Monster Burger

I think we’ve all got to admit it, eh? As much as we may love traveling the world and sampling the traditional food of  the places we go to, to entrench and soak ourselves in the culture and stuff, every now and then, we’re gonna get that craving for a good ol’ burger, pasta or pizza.

That is where, my friends, that N’s Kitchen comes in.

Apparently a very well-respected hostel in Shangri-La, (somewhat) sadly, here in Lijiang it is just a place for travelers to get bloody good burgers. The picture more or less speaks for itself. Inch-thick beef (or BBQ-ed chicken!) patties, freshly ground from big ol’ chunks of meat, with REAL chips, it is aptly-named the Monster Burger. To add on to that, their Spicy Tuna Melt Sandwich is a savory heaven on a plate, as our recent Polish guests, Andy & Kate Brennenstuhl, as well for our staff member Ken will vouch. They serve pizza as well, though we honestly do think that Pizza Luo makes tastier pizzas, like the LMC (Lijiang Millionaires’ Club). This, however, may not be a fair comparison since Pizza Luo is a pizza specialist, it very-much impressed our two English guests, Mark & James, while LMC is a little more high-classed, in terms of the food anyway**.

**Regarding the LMC, the owners tend to go out shopping for ingredients the moment the lunch hour is over, so if you head there at about 2pm, it is likely that you will find the restaurant empty. However, just tell us that you’d like to go there and we would happily call ahead for you, and likely bring you there personally, since we love the food there as well!

Either way, if you’re looking for good eats, comfort food especially, just tell the staff of Panba, and we personally guarantee that you’ll have yourselves some very happy bellies!

Cheers. :D

Freshnam Cafe!

Grizzled Ol' Veteran, who plays wickedly good music.

Today the Panba staff brought our guests from England, James & Mark to the very-much-hidden Freshnam Cafe, a spot well-known for incredibly good live music. The Canadian singer played awesome blues, and the cocktails were well-made. Everyone needs to check out Freshnam Cafe. It is likely where you would be able to find the best live non-Chinese music in Lijiang!

Lijiang’s Up & Running Again!

Lijiang's electricity is back!!

Lijiang’s electricity is finally back! But then again, all it took was a couple of hours. Hurray! Panba is also happy to announce that every guest gets one free drink upon checking in, whether it is a fruit juice, soft drink, coffee, or BEER!

Our billiards room will also be up and running soon! (Once we get that darned billiards table, that is). For now, it makes for a great music room, where passionate musicians get to take full advantage of its amazing acoustics to let their souls be heard in absolute glory.

Here at Panba, we LOVE musicians, and if you happen to bump into Ken while you’re there, he’ll likely give you an additional beer on top of the free one you’re already entitled to; provided you play us a song (or two!). It is preferable that you use your own guitars / etc, because while we do provide a guitar for free use, it isn’t exactly a Gibson or Guild, you see. Heh.

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