We had the whole morning to ourselves as it was a mild 3 hour drive to Dali which we decided to do after lunch. Following a chill out breakfast overlooking the Snow Mountain, we went back to our rooms to pack and ready ourselves for the drive. Looking through the small booklet on Lijiang in the room, I thought it might be fun to check out the hot air balloon ride just 10km away. Suffering from vertigo, I would abstain and take pictures from the ground, and Sin and Lily would do the ride. Unfortunately, although the weather was picture perfect, we had to make other plans as the place told us that the winds were too strong and it was the wrong season for hot air ballooning. Back to the booklet and Lily found a show she'd been wanting to see. "Impressions of Lijiang" is directed by Zhang Yimou against the stunning backdrop of the Jade Snow Dragon Mountain. I must say I have become a bit of a fan of Zhang Yimou's work. He is especially known for directing the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, but I really liked his most recent movie, "The Flowers of
War" starring Ni Ni and Christian Bale. We were in luck as the show started at 2:00pm. So we hopped in the cars and drove the stunningly beautiful road to the show near the foot of the Snow Mountain. We purchased tickets, which were free seating, and managed to get perfect seating at the front row of the second tier. I won't go into details, but the show was an amazing concoction of fabulous music, hearty dancing from the boisturous ethnic minority clansmen, and dainty footsteps from the womenfolk. So good was the show that we bought the CD and DVD set, and I have adopted the music as the themetune for the rest of our roadtrip.
The show romaticises the myth of the Jade Dragon Mountain, a peak that has "never been conquered". I must say that I am a little dissapointed to hear from my old friend the net that Yulong Shan was actually conquered by an American expidition in 1987.
On the way to Dali we stopped off to get my car checked. I was getting some rattling noise, and it turned out that the exhaust was rattling on the protective metal undersheet, which had
been damaged due to chunky rocks that littered the mountain roads. With the metal sheet flattened, we headed off for Dali, a mere 180km away.
Arriving just before dark, we checked in, and hit the streets of yet another ancient town. So far, I think we all feel Pingyao was hard to beat, but each ancient town or city we visit has it's own unique charachteristics. Dali is nice as the streets are alot wider. We had a mostly vegetarian and very tasty local dinner as a 200 year old restaurant, and then walked the streets on reserve battery power.
Tomorrow's going to be a rough one as we need to cover 630km to Xingyi as we start back toward Shanghai.
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