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Published: August 6th 2007
All I saw of the three pagodas
Well, after a rather long bus ride through the Chinese countryside we found ourselves in Dali. Sort of. Apparently, there is an old Dali and a new Dali. The bus dropped us in new Dali and so we had to find our way to the old town several kilometers away. Luckily for us, the LP explains just how to do that. Except that the bus station on it's map is no longer there. We ended up walking for about 30 minutes before giving up and hopping in a cab. Of course, after about two minutes the cab drove by the bus station that had clearly moved 2km towards the old town from it's location on the LP map. Oh well.
My first impression of Dali was "look at all the tourists!" Definitely the most western tourists I'd seen in China in one place. We quickly found a room at the Tibetan Lodge guest house. The room was about the size of most bathrooms, with barely enough room for the bed. There was standing water in the bathroom, but it was all they had and we didn't feel like walking around so we took it.
We went for some dinner
over at Jim's Tibetan Peace Cafe where we ran into Maya. She had been in town for a couple of days and was trying to find some warmer clothing before heading off to Lijiang. The food was good, but something has to be done about the Guinness they have. It was the first bottle of foreign extra stout I'd seen in a couple months, but something was wrong with the taste. It seemed really flat, and sure enough it had been produced nearly two years prior! Did they buy a massive supply of the stuff expecting huge demand only to realize that they sell like one a week? Whatever the reason I was really disappointed with the Guinnnes and still haven't found a good one since Shanghai.
Maya, Jen, and I took a leisurely trip out to the Three Pagodas cultural site. I say leisurely because we must have stopped in 10 stores along the way to look at various things. Regardless, it was a beautiful day and a really pleasant walk. When we got there we discovered that the admission price was 120 yuan ($15), which is absurd. I paid 90 to see the Forbidden City in Beijing,
which has to be one of the premier attractions in China. So, I decided not to go in and I left the girls with their student discounts to see it on their own. As it turns out, it was probably worth the price, but oh well.
While in Dali we managed to get a SIM card finally. We found a really friendly guy who spoke great english to help us get it. Unfortunately, as we found out later, the rates are a lot higher than China Mobile claimed. If you thought US companies were profit-mongering abominations, then don't come to China. They wanted a $300 deposit for us to be able to even make international calls. Plus, it costs us money to receive calls unless we're in Dali city. I mean, come on, SIM cards in LAOS let you call internationally for like $0.25 a minute and they're free to receive. Not to mention the twenty forms they filled out involving my passport to get the actual card. I remember walking into a shop in Vietnam asking for a SIM card and walking out the door two minutes later. Not here!
We didn't do much else in Dali,
Jen and Maya
Jen's enjoying Jim's #1 special drink.
although we got a nasty case of food poisoning. We ate at a busy local place, and even had a great meal. Unfortunately, the food didn't agree with my belly that night and I was up with stuff coming out both ends. Yuck. Jen actually had it worse, as she felt bad the entire next day while I woke up ravenous. That's the first time I've had food poisoning on this trip, and I've eaten at plenty of local places.
Stay tuned for Lijiang.
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