Hello from Xiao in Dali

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March 5th 2006
Published: July 20th 2006
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Ni Hao,

In this period of the year, it is low season in China, but still, many Chinese tourists over here. Not so many foreign tourists.
The typical Chinese tourist travels with an orgonized tour, in a luxurios bus. They travel from one tourist attraction to another with the bus, take a lot of photos and hardly walk. Here, in Dali, the women even sometimes buy a typical Chinese custom, wear it and take photos with it. Very kitschy. So Dali is a very touristic city with many shops, restuarants, etc. But, still, a very charming old city.
The potential of the local Chinese tourism is around 700 million. The other 700 million are too poor to travel. While travelling, the relatively rich Chinese hardly see the poor villages and people around. Their situation is in sharp contrast to the cities situation. The cities are very western and are in constant building. All China seems to be one big construction site. They build new buildings in the cities, new high ways - every where. The villages look very wretched, the houses are crumbling and lots of building waste is everywhere.
Today I went to a hike near Dali. The hike seemed to be very challenging, since it was written in the guide book that once in a while there is an armed robbery in the trail and even one German guy was murdered (but this is probably becuase he refused to hand over his valubales). This made me more excited, full with adrenalin towords the adventure of meeting the bandits.
However, China is normally a safe country to travel.
The problem was especially the first hour of climbing becuase most of the people (lazy Chinese) use the chair lift. The second part, along the ridge, should not be a problem becuase it is well travelled. The third part, down the mountain could be a problem becuase, again, most Chinese would probably use the cable car.
At the begining of the climbing, I hit a police check point who wanted me to write down my name. It seems that they have heard about the robbery cases as well as the guide book and they are taking some measures to fight back (for example, writing down the tourists names). I have asked a retoric question: "is it safe?" , using my phrase book, and of course that they replied: "yes". But, if it was safe, why there should be a police check point to begin with? They then instructed me where exactly to start. After a few minutes, I met a young Chinese couple that was climbing as well (not typical) and followed them. After a while, we arrived to a trail that was just below the chair lift route. Under the people, it would be quite difficult and stupid for the bandits to robe.
The chair lift seems to be quite new. Before that, the Chinese tourists did not climb, of course, they rode on a horse. The chair lift gives income to the Chinese goverment but leaves the horses and their owners workless. This makes the horses happy (get free food but don't need to work) and their owners unhappy (no money).
On the way along the ridge which was very pretty, I have encounterd some more police check points and patrols.
On the way down, I met a group of young Chinese who could speak little English. During our conversation, I have asked them to pick for me a Chinese name that should be close to my real name. So my Chinese name is: Xiao (first name) Dong Li (family name).
'X' is pronounced as 'Sh'.
'Xiao' - no meaning.
'Dong' - winter.
'Li' - beutiful

I wonder what is the Chinese family name of our sleepy PM and if it is similar to my first name.

A strange feature of Dali is the lively selling of Gras in the streets. Never have I seen if before in China. Like in India. The sellers are only women, they approach to the innocent tourist and offer him their merchandise by whispering the offer. Sometimes this is conducted while selling arts & crafts. I don't know when happans afterwards since I have never passed the offer stage.

Zaidgien, Xiao

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8th March 2006

beautiful pics !! as always

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