Published: August 6th 2012August 6th 2012
Our final stop in Yunnan province was the city of Dali, another of China's ancient cities. What I most wanted to see was Erhai Lake, China's third largest. Other than that, it didn't seem to offer much that Lijiang and Shangri-La didn't already offer - it had an old (walled) city with shops and restuarants, etc.
In order to get to Dali, it was an 8-hour bus ride from Shangri-La. We left early on August 1st to make the trek. We thought that for such a long bus ride they'd give us a nice bus but we thought wrong. Thankfully our travel agent in Shangri-La (who was the same friendly Tibetan who organized our tour) got our tickets early and we were assigned the front two seats on the bus. Of course, this being China, some dude was in our seats when we arrived, but we showed him our tickets and got him to move. I think he was confused that we actually wanted to follow the rules. We follow rules when they benefit us!! Anyways, it was a painful 8 hours with some of the most annoying of Chinese people - they were mostly men and they
did things like talk on the phone loudly, smoke out the window, and, at rest stops, hawk and spit. I got by with headphones and calming music. Fernanda got by by sleeping most of the way. Thankfully the driver was sane and didn't drive recklessly on the winding road. That is a luxury in China. Though he did smoke out the window despite the large NO SMOKING (woh didn't say 'No Burning', that's classy) sign. But it is China after all...
Anyways the driver was also nice enough to drop us off in Old Town Dali along the way. When we got there we called our hostel and someone came to pick us up. That evening we didn't do much - we went to eat a nice, long meal. It was raining the whole day (good day to be stuck on a bus I guess) so we didn't feel like walking around much. Instead we went into a China girl store and bought some random spa stuff and had a spa day in our hostel.
The next day we wanted to see Erhai Lake but we were feeling far too lazy to do what
The boat next to us
it's cooler than ours no fair!!
foreigners usually do which is ride a bike. Instead, we did what the Chinese tourists usually do - we took a boat tour. This was a funny and confusing experience. First we were picked up at the hostel and dropped off at the ferry terminal. We followed the crowds of Chinese people to get our tickets. Then we followed those crowds onto the boat. This of course involved much pushing and shoving. We were handed some pretty ugly necklaces which would be our pass for the boat. We pushed and shoved and found some seats on the boat. The boat was MASSIVE and we were the only non-Chinese people on the entire cruise. The boat started moving eventually and came to the first of two islands we were scheduled to stop at. This island was absolutely miniscule and was full of vendors so we decided not to get off but instead laugh at the crowds below.
From there we cruised along some more to the next island where we did get off. It was nice and there were some random statues and buildings plus some forest and a waterfall. We weren't really sure what was going on
because all the information was in Chinese. But we followed the crowds to avoid getting lost and/or missing our boat.
We were a bit confused because there was supposed to be a tea tasting and dance demo but we were never really sure when that was. We were also very confused when the tour came to an abrupt end pretty far from where we'd got on. We had asked in advance so we knew there were minibuses we could take back to Old Town Dali. We got on one and headed back to our hostel. All in all, we were generally confused the entire morning but we consider it a cultural experience to do tourism like a Chinese person!! We just wished there were matching hats...
After our cruise we walked around Old Town Dali and had some food. It was fun though not as exciting as Lijiang or Shangri-La. The food was good - food in Southern China is less greasy than Beijing food which is nice.
That's about it for our 1.5 day trip to Dali. Not too much to report but it was fun times.
There are more photos below