Wandering around Dali...


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Asia » China » Yunnan » Dali
May 11th 2013
Published: May 28th 2013
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I woke up a bit earlier just in case there were any troubles in reaching the bus station – like getting lost when changing buses or taking the bus in the wrong direction for example… 😉 Well… getting there couldn’t have been easier though – there was actually very good information at my hostel as to which buses to take and where to change so following the instructions I got there without any problems at all – 10 stops with bus 95, then another 10 with bus 80 and taraaa! …arrived at East Bus Station! And the journey cost me 2yuan only! Happy days! It was funny though when I was getting on the first bus, I let through an old Chinese man, he just couldn’t stop smiling to me later on and even wanted to give me his seat on the bus! So sweet! Obviously didn’t take it… Then I only needed to decipher the Chinese symbols at the East Bus Station to make sure I got on the right bus and shortly after was on my way to Dali. Was surprised to see two other foreign tourists on the bus! Apparently I wasn’t the only non-Chinese tourist in Kunming (started having some serious doubts about that at some point actually! 😉)…

The journey to Dali was quite uneventful. I was surprised that there was a break half way through as the trip was supposed to last only 3 ½ hours. What surprised me even more was seeing all the Chinese travelling on the bus with me running to the food stalls straight away… I wasn’t really hungry but I guess the pressure of the crowd got to me a bit as decided to treat myself to something as well. I went for some pastry/pancake in the end – it wasn’t that great as was quite tasteless and veeeery deep fried (basically soaked in oil), still tried something new at least!

The bus dropped everybody off at the new part of Dali so I needed to get to the old town somehow. There was a public bus going there supposedly but it was starting to rain so thought I’ll just take a taxi. After unsuccessfully negotiating the price with a few taxi drivers, finally came along a tuk-tuk driver who agreed to my price and seemed to know where I wanted to go also (again nobody was speaking any word of English, so even though I was double and triple checking about the price and my destination, still wasn’t sure in the end if we were on the same page with the driver… was hoping we were though…). Then the couple from the bus (almost my neighbours as they turned out to be from Slovenia) came over and we agreed to share the tuk-tuk to the South Gate in the old town. Some nice company and a third of a cost to get there! Couldn’t be better! 😊

My hostel was just next to the South Gate so just dropped my bags and decided to have a look around. Really lovely old town! When we were on our way to Dali we passed by many small villages which just looked incredible to me – all the houses were painted in white and had traditional rooftops, but what really made them stand out for me were the paintings/drawings/ writings on the walls, different theme in each village, was hoping to see one of these villages from a bit closer perspective rather than from a bus but it looked like I didn’t need to worry as Dali was one of these villages! I was wondering whether this was typical for this region only, whole Yunnan or maybe even whole China??? Well, I would soon find out I guess… So I was walking around the old town admiring the beautiful drawings on the walls… I was surprised to see so many shops around though! Ah well… it was a tourist attraction after all – quite a few people dressed up in some weird costumes posing for photos, lovely restaurants all around and even one street with some western pubs and places to eat… Still I wanted to try something typical and not to go the easy route and escape to the western world! So was walking around and thinking where to go and what I should eat. There sure was plenty of choice around – from food stalls selling everything on stick, through Chinese fast foods to cosy restaurants. Lots of cool looking places around as well and definitely veery different to what the westerners are used to – baskets with fresh veggies, fish and all sort of other weird stuff set right outside of the restaurants – didn’t dare to go sit in one of these places though as just wasn’t sure how they worked, were you supposed to pick the ingredients for your meal yourself? 😉 So I thought I might make it at least a little bit easier for me and just go to a place which has a picture menu, well… it took me a while to find one though! So chose a meal, ordered a beer and was enjoying the surroundings observing the people walking by. It turned out to be the most expensive beer while in China – I know the beer prices around now so definitely won’t be making the same mistake again… small bottle of Dali cost me there 30yuan! Rip off! Later on I was having a big bottle of beer with my meals for maximum 15 yuan! Ah well… Thought I ordered some kind of meat but that wasn’t the case… Maybe better actually? I think it was battered eggplant in sweet and sour sauce, but could easily have been some other veggie unknown to me… Pretty good meal though!

Next day walked around the old town again… It was nice to see some women dressed in traditional Bai clothes, after all this is the biggest ethnic group around here. After circling around the same streets I decided to head to the Three Pagodas. The oldest pagoda is 1200 years old, quite impressive but have to say that the entrance was pretty expensive though, especially that you only see the pagodas from the outside… With the ticket you get access to the Congshen Temple as well which is just behind the Three Pagodas. Walked around which took a while as it’s actually a huge complex of temples… Saw only one foreign face in the crowds of Chinese tourists and it wasn’t my reflection for a change! 😉 Got asked to pose for a few pictures but then saw a few people taking sneaky photos of me as well… Felt like a celebrity again, haha! 😉 It started raining a bit in the afternoon so decided to head back to the old town. In the evening decided to mingle with some foreign tourists for a change and Bad Monkey seemed like the best place to do that. And it was as met a nice Dutch girl there. It surely was nice to chat a bit and exchange the views and experiences about China… We seemed to have come across the same guy that day – not sure what his purpose was in this town… when you looked at him from head to toe he seemed to be wearing quite a few layers of traditional clothes, but then when you looked a bit closer one big part of his costume was missing! His undies that is! He was all covered in clothes but his penis was out in the open! Just hanging there decorated with some ribbons or something??? I only got a quick glimpse at him as was passing by but my new friend said that she actually saw him walking around talking to people and asking for money… Well thankfully it didn’t happen to me as it would’ve been slightly uncomfortable! Honestly wherever you go, there are always some freaks around…

I had a dilemma whether to go for a biking trip by the Erhai Lake or climb up to the peak of Cangshan. Since I’ve read that there were some cases of solo trekkers being robbed walking up the mountain, biking seemed like a better idea. It was a lovely sunny day finally also! Rented a bike and set off to Caicun village first as the road by the lake seemed to be starting from there. A Chinese guy joined me along the way, it was a nice surprise to hear him speaking very good English, so we had a bit of a chat about Dali and Lijiang (as he was from Lijiang) while biking… He was staying in Caicun so we set goodbye there. I enjoyed the biking trip as there were beautiful views all around – the rice fields on one side and peaceful lake on the other and many charming little villages along the way. Still it wasn’t as much fun as it could’ve been as I was really missing some company that day… When I got back to my hostel I could barely get off the bike, my legs were so wobbly! – it was flat all the way except the last part – a pretty long street slightly uphill to the South Gate, it probably wouldn’t have been that bad, but after biking 50km it surely felt pretty tiring… I chose another western place for my dinner that day – just wanted to have a beer and eat something fast so Café de Jack seemed like the best option. As I was sitting there enjoying my meal and looking through my pictures from the last few days, I suddenly felt as if someone was staring at me… And it looked like not only I was being stared at but shouted at as well (was so absorbed with the pictures that it took a while to notice that). A table full of Chinese people a bit further away from mine was shouting ‘hellos’ at me. I said hello back and went back to my pictures. But it wasn’t the end of socializing though as soon after one by one they started coming to my table saying hello, cheers and toasting with me… There were a couple of wine bottles at their table so I guess it explained a bit… Eventually they left me in peace. Still it was time to head back to my hostel, enough excitement for one day I’d say! 😉

I really got to like Dali, from the very beginning actually, and I wouldn’t mind staying here another day or two but there were more interesting towns and cities waiting to be explored so decided to go further the following day. Next stop: Lijiang!


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29th May 2013

WOW
I was there in 2002...looks as if its come ahead in laps & bounds

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