Dali Travel Blog

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Breakfast while waiting for the bus.Fried doughy thing and a milk/water/sugar concoction.

I got up at 6.30 to get a bus to Dali, leaving my backpack at the guesthouse in Lijiang and just packing my daypack for an overnight stay in
Dali -  three and a half hours away by bus. An hour before Dali, there's a Bai culture market at Shaping on Mondays, which I wanted to see. According to the lady in the cafe that I ate at the night before, the bus goes through Shaping, but doesn't stop. She kindly wrote me a note in Chinese saying 'Please let me get off the bus at Shaping' or words to that effect.

When I got to the long distance bus station I got a ticket for 8am, which gave me an hour to kill. There were some stalls across the road making breakfast 'stuff'.

Just the thing for a four hour journey, the best bus I travelled on.
 The menu seemed to be noodles, boiled egg, or fried dough-twisty things. I sat down and ordered a twisty thing, and asked if they had tea or coffee. They didn't. Just something she seemed to call 'soup'. I had some anyway. It seemed to be milk and water combined, served in a soup bowl, with sugar at the bottom and a spoon to drink it with. Neither of my breakfast items tasted of anything much, sadly. The roll of toilet paper in the middle of each table was slightly off putting too.

I got my bus. Despite it just being a little twenty seater rattletrap job, seats were assigned by number, and I ended up in the middle of the back row, which was a shame - hopeless for photo taking. The scenery was spectacular - mountains, rice terraces etc, but I couldn't get a single photo.

I gave the driver my note.

Bai women at Shaping market
He looked at it as if he'd never read his own language before. He scowled, grumbled a bit, then gave it back to me with no indication whatsoever as to whether he would stop for me. My fellow passengers were.. interesting. They smoked, spat (there were spit buckets in the aisle), took off their shoes to air their smelly feet out of the window...and so on. Oh, and one lady was sick for quite a section of the journey, as the road is really winding.

Anyway, the bus drew to a halt after two and a half hours, and the driver shouted to me. All the others had a good stare while I got off, and,
embarrassingly, I couldn't remember the Chinese for 'thankyou'. I hope a smile did OK, as it turned out he'd done a little detour to bring me to the entrance to the market. I'd expected to have to get a taxi for the last bit.

The market was amazing. Totally authentic, and I only saw another half dozen westerners. The stalls were wonderful, and everyone was in traditional Bai dress.

What I hadn't thought through was how to get from Shaping to Dali though. 40km and no buses. There were little tuk-tuk type vehicles but they'd never get me that far. And I'd left my good guidebook in my backpack. I sat in the sun for a while, wondering why I wasn't a bit more concerned about this than I was. Then I had a little walk, and  was considering my options near a little white minibus, when a Spanish couple came by, spoke to the driver and said "Dali" Turned out they'ed booked him in Dali for the return trip. I bunged them 20 kuai and they let me share.

Dali is very pretty, and again, backed by lovely mountains. There are more westerners here though, and it's pretty easy to get western food etc. I found myself a bed for the night, had a wander round, hired a bike to visit the pagodas a couple of miles away, and then rested up with a watermelon juice in a cafe with free internet.

In the evening I headed for Jim's Tibetan Peace Cafe, where I ate yak goulash (delicious) and heavy Tibetan bread.
I think I adjusted to China really well, considering. The night before, a bloke hawked and spat near me so forcefully, that I got splashback on my bare leg. I barely even flinched.

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Breakfast while waiting for the bu…
Breakfast while waiting for the b…
Just the thing for a four hour jou…
Just the thing for a four hour jo…
Bai women at Shaping market
Bai women at Shaping market
photo by: Stevie_Wes