Published: February 14th 2012February 2nd 2012
Dali (dah lee)
Dali is one of Yunnan's most popular tourist destinations; both for its historic sites and the Foreigners' Street that features western-style food, music, and English-speaking business owners, making it popular among both western and Chinese tourists. It is situated on flat farm land between a high mountain rage and Lake Er hai (R Hi). On the opposite side of Er Hai are more mountains yet these lack any trees. I was not able to determine if this was a natural phenomena or a result of man-created deforestation. It is home to a group of ethnic minority Chinese called Bai and Yi (Bye and Yee)
Our bus ride to Dali was 4 -1/2 hours on a very comfortable bus, yet the drive could have been faster. After 90 minutes of driving we stopped for gas and lunch. I felt this was a complete waste of time because no one was a risk of starving after not eating for 90 minutes. Some 30 minutes later we were back on the road for another 20 minutes before we pulled off the highway and parked for yet another half an hour.
The bus driver was
trying to pick up a few more passengers and pocket the money for himself. After some time an old man and his son boarded the bus. The old man was smoking and stinking up the whole bus. I asked him if he could stop smoking since it smelled bad. He looked at me with a blank stare as I clearly caused him to lose face. His son, about my age, realized that it was probably a little rude to smoke and encouraged him to put out his cigarette. In fact many of the passengers had looks of disagreement but this beingAsiawould not speak a word of their dissatisfaction with the situation. .
A little later I decided that I would try and be funny because in my opinion it was time to get this show on the road. I went up to the front of the bus and laid on the horn for about five seconds. It was loud and got a few laughs from some of the other passengers on the bus, but probably not from Elyse. She tends to be more embarrassed by my actions of trying to amuse myself. I guess the driver got
the message and boarded the bus to head out.
After we arrived in the new section of Dali we got a San Li Che (three wheeled motorcycle with a passenger compartment in the back) to the train station. From there we got on a local bus for a 40 mins ride to the old city. It was crowded and about every other stop a man or group of men would try to board with cigarettes in the mouth. The driver told each of them to throw them out. I guess he was above the rules as he lit up a few times on the way himself. I guess this is just what they do here.
We arrived at our hostel, The Jade Emu, which is owned by an Australian guy and his Chinese wife. They also owned the Jade Roo across the street. It was just outside of the West Gate city wall and was very comfortable. The building was three stories in the shape of an “L” and had a wall on the ground floor that ran along the perimeter of the property which created a nice interior courtyard. We had some lunch
then ventured into the old city.
The following day we rented bikes and went on an all day bike ride. This was an amazing experience. There was no path that ran along the path of the lake but there were a few roads that got near the lake shore and cut through some old village homes where the minority people lived. On the way we stopped by a hotel right at the lake’s edge to check it out. It was really nice but out of price range. Our bike trip lasted around four hours before we stopped and had lunch at the Monkey Bar in old town. I had a beer but Elyse wasn’t feeling that well due to a common cold and only had water.
After our late lunch we decided to ride our bikes to the famous 3 Pagodas. We wanted to check out the price of entrance as it seems everything in China has doubled over the last 2 years. We arrived in the parking lot with 40+ tour bus and locals selling fruits and any gadget you could think of. I discoverd they want 120 RMB/person ($19USD) so we decided
it wasn't worth the $40 for us to visit. But we did walk as far as we could to snap a few photos of the pagodas before being told we needed a ticket. That is ok we got our photos and we are on our way. We didn't see any other foreigners there just Chinese tourists by the bus loads. On the way back to our hostel we decided to get a foot soak, shoulder/neck massage for 20 RMB ($3.25) each for 50 minutes. It was great and well worth the money.
The next day, we booked a driver to take for us to a cable car station that would take us up the mountain where we could hike 13 km to another area in which we could take a path down close to our hostel. We bought a few apples at the gate and also bought our cable car tickets (50 RMB each for one way tickets). When we got to the cable car station we needed to go and buy a park entrance ticket for 30 RMB each. We couldn’t figure out why the lady at the first ticket counter didn’t just sell us both
tickets, but then again you’ll end up going crazy if you always ask Why? Elyse's golden rule, don't ask "Why" in Asia just follow the rules.
When we got to the top it was pretty crowded. There was a nice waterfall and pool that was ruined by some cheesy looking statue and a place where you could get in a rubber raft to paddle out and get your photo taken. As usual about ten minutes in the other direction we were the only ones walking on the path. Along the way we passed only 7 other groups of people on the trail.
The path was flat and large enough to drive a small car. Some sections of the trail cut through solid rock and some sections were a thousand feet above the canyon floor. We thought that it was funny that they decided to build such a nice trail thousands of feet on the mountain yet failed to comprehend that a trail along the lake would have been much easier and likely used by more people. I’m not complaining as the trail was amazing and really easy to hike the 13km to our end
At the end of the trail still atop of the mountain we hiked up a steep trail to eat yet another late lunch at a small hostel called Highland Inn. The views were really unimpressive as there were no clear views and the food was terrible. The best thing was that we rested, rehydrated, and bought some chocolate to help us refuel our energy. We left there and hiked down the mountain and were back in our hostel’s courtyard about an hour later.
We both enjoyed Dali and were fortunate to have been able to relax and experience yet another great Yunnan city. We headed back to Kunming for one more night before departing on our flight back to colder, wetter Hangzhou.
I think Yunnan is my favorite place in China. **Interesting fact, we met a Belgian man who was traveling around the world for 9 months with 3 of those months being in China. He had the 2009 edition of Lonely Planet China which states the entrance fees for all the major tourist attractions in each city. He said during his travels around China every entrance fee was "at least" doubled if not more. This proves my point (Elyse) that things in China are just getting too expensive or the Chinese are just making more money so they have increased the rates for everything. Pete thinks they have increased the rates to keep people out, but bus load after bus load still arrive at each tourist attraction.
There are more photos below