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Published: September 19th 2018
For the next part of our holiday we had prearranged a tour (including driver and guide) to take us around Yunnan. The main reason for doing this was that last time we were in China we found it quite difficult to get around by ourselves. We figured the tour would make it easier to get around and would also allow us to visit some national parks which aren't particularly accessible with public transport, particularly if you don't speak the language.
Our guide, William, met us at our hotel in Dali the morning after we finished our food tour. We hopped into the car and set off in the direction of Shaxi which is a small town about 2 hours north of Dali.
Along the way we stopped at Shibao Mountain. After purchasing tickets we hopped on the bus and headed into the park. We hopped off the bus at the second stop and set off down a track and into the forest.
The path was well paved and after about a 20 minute walk we arrived at the bottom of Shizhong Temple. The approximately 1000 year old Shizhong Temple, which is carved into the mountain side, is home
to rock carvings of various religious icons (mostly buddhist but some of the early religions of the area. Many of the rock carvings were defaced (some literally) during the cultural revolution. The location of the temple was really beautiful.
From the temple we made our way back towards the spot he bus had dropped us off at. From there we set off down another track which lead down the mountain. The scenery was lovely and the walk was easy. Eventually we reached a small temple (which was closed). After resting for a few minutes we continued the walk down some quite steep stairs and made our way into the valley. We walked through the lovely valley until we met up with our driver again.
From the meeting point we drove another 20 minutes or so until we reached Shaxi. Shaxi began as a trading point for tea and horses sometime during the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). The town is apparently one of the best preserved horse caravan towns alone the Tea Horse Road which is an ancient trading route which stretched across south western China, Laos, Myanmar, Tibet and Bangladesh.
After checking into our hotel we
headed off to have lunch. Lunch was kung pao chicken, tofu and dish of the fungus Luxi had introduced us to in Dali. After lunch we walked around the cute Old Town for a while before returning to our hotel to read books and relax (after a stressful day) before dinner.
For dinner we attempted to get a table at a restaurant which looked quite busy, but the waiter rudely told us that there was a long wait and shooed us away. In protest we decided to grab a table at the restaurant opposite. The menu was not in English so after some Google Translate conversation I ended up following our waiter into the kitchen and pointing at the vegetables I wanted (kang kung) and attempted to order a kung pao chicken. Our waiter pointed at a bucket filled with various bits of hacked up chicken; I nodded and then left the kitchen feeling a little dubious about what I had ordered...
Our food arrived and we were both thrilled to see that we had ordered a dish full of boney chicken and chicken feet. There were also some potatoes mixed in which we fished out (making sure
there were no chicken toes attached to the potato); the flavour of the dish was actually quite nice but neither of us were that keen on the chicken. Fortunately the vegetable dish and large serving of rice was enough to fill us up.
After dinner we grabbed a table at a bar / cafe near the town square. Scott had a beer and I ordered some random local fruit rice wine. Scott drank his beer and I suffered through my wine (/petrol) while watching some buskers.
We made an exciting visit to the supermarket on the way back to our hotel where we discovered many preserved meat delights including one which mentioned dog (was it for dogs? or was it dog meat?) and some chicken feet just in case we wanted to recreate our wonderful dinner experience.
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