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Dali : Have you seen me lately?

Dali Travel Blog

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Mega-tourism :)

A day of doing relatively little I think.  Dali is an easy place just to stop and take advantage of comforts and ease.  A spot of relaxation following any initial shocks to the system in adjusting gears to life and travel in China. 

Dali is busy.  Very, very busy.  It is observed by many people who travel in China at present, and it’s true, that the rise of the home-bred tourist in China is a significant new social trend.  Finally, with an economy still roaring ahead of the rest of the world, even with the slight breakers of the prevailing economic situation, this is a nation that can afford to start to discover itself.  Well, the 40% of it that live within and benefit from the newly invigorated financial opportunities of the urban centres of the nation can do anyway.

Old Town Dali is threaded with many waterways and picturesque water features
  Predominantly those of the East.  Such a vast, vast country to be discovered.  Why travel anywhere else for the time being?  And anyhow, the government may well not let you.  Dali ‘Old Town’ is stuffed to choking with the clamour and excitement of indigenous tourism.   And We are here too of course.  In less marked numbers.  The foreigners abroad staring on in amazement at the mass vibrancy of modern Chinese society and tourism.

It is a destination with its charms.  And, if a little exhausted or drawn out you may find yourself inclined to stay here some many days.  Good food to be had at street level, in restaurants and cafes and in recessed little markets if you wish to search them out.  I recommend an early morning trawl through the side streets for the ladies and gents with the cycle-mounted stacks of large steaming trays.

  Lifted to reveal inside their steamy, dough-based treasures.  Savoury or hot-sugar stuffed dumplings.  Two large ones for barely 1.50RMB / $0.25.  “Yum!”.

The ’Old Town’ is a sizeable area bordered by small stretches of ’City Wall’ fortification of age unknown.  Not so much age I suspect.  There is the central pagoda town arch and larger, pagoda-style gates at the four compass points of the city.  The main high streets of the ’Old Town’ are lined with countless shops that open their shutters early doors to try to foist any number of ’traditional’ products on to the thronging crowds (in full tilt by 8.00am).  Musical instruments, shoes, silverware (often hammered out and crafted on the street sides), clothes, traditional medicines and food the primary products it seems.

  This town is a tourist retail Mecca of quite staggering scale.  You may find this a little overwhelming.  Overwhelming of your expectations that is.  Expectations of quiet, Old World charm. 

Little of this remains in the wake of mass tourism I’m afraid and you should not come here expecting any serious vestige of an authentic cultural or architectural experience.  Having walked its length and breadth I guestimate that there’s probably not more than 10% - 15% of the buildings - even in the quieter residential areas to the east and north, that date further back than 30-40 years or so.  New buildings are being razed, reconstructed and renovated all the time.  Building materials stacked in the streets.   Workers visible through any number of courtyard doorways.

  The south western quarter of the town just an empty ghost town street complex of empty (lease not yet taken), brand new concrete-brick sales booths and buildings.

But I enjoy my time here immensely.  Anna’s left for Lijiang today, not willing to “waste time”  somewhere with so little soul to be felt she feels.  But I’ve met a cracking new bunch of pals in the last 24 hours or so.  And a curious situation; an inverse ‘popularity’ has been brought to my attention.  Last evening I walked into a group of peeps and immediately struck up a connection and spent the evening chillaxing with them.  There was Nick whom I had briefly met in Hanoi (and advised on the Chinese visa situation).  He’s accompanied by Vanesha and Emmy who say “HI!” and soon reveal that “Oh, we’ve seen you loads before!”  Really?!  “Yeah, we saw you in Ho Chi Minh City… and then you were on a bike with one of those Easy Rider guys in Dalat…”  True.

Market Fish (detail)
  I was indeed.  “… and then we bumped into you in Hue, and we saw you in Hanoi too!!”.  Wow…um?  That’s really cool.  Glad to know that I stick out.  A character.  Visually at least.  But hey gals, ya coulda said “Hello!”. LOL  Pleased to finally be introduced.

Later this evening we’re all sat at the pleasant enough GoGo bar having drinks and food.  A New Zealand couple have joined us.  The humorous position of my high-visibility invisibility (seen but not approached) status in Vietnam is related to them “Oh hey, we saw you in Vietnam too!  Yeah in Hanoi somewhere.  You were walking around not so long ago!”.  True.

'Red & Green'
  I was indeed.  And thanks for saying “hi” too.  Half an hour later a middle-aged American couple join us “Oh hey man!  Haven’t we met before?!”.  Umm?  Have we?  I’m pretty good with faces and yours ain’t ringin’ any bells.  “Yeah, yeah, you were in Langkawi… Langkawi Malaysia!”.  “Are you sure guys, I mean I hardly met or introduced myself to anyone there?”.  “Yeah, yeah, for sure… oh we didn’t introduce ourselves or anything.  We just saw you on the ferry from Langkawi to the mainland.  Ya know.  About three months ago!”.  True enough.
Bean Sprouts (detail)
  I was indeed.  “You‘re kinda memorable if ya take my meaning?”. 

Everyone’s in hysterics at the concept of this little red-haired wanderer who is observed en masse by all and sundry and in his own peculiar way makes quite an impression.  Not to be forgotten.  If not to be approached.  Everyone it seems has met me.  Some many times.  Sort of.  I picture the scenario of a gigantic ‘Where’s Wally?’ puzzle picture.  Except it’s ‘Where’s Stevie?’.  can you spot him?  At first it’s hard.  I ain’t so tall after an’ all.  Lost amidst the swirling mass of the worlds crowds and populaces.  One man amidst an infinite swarm of tourists and backpackers.

Ginger Weight
  And pretty quiet too.  But look hard enough and you’ll spot me.  It ain’t so hard after all.  For the hair it flares, it flames to the skies.  Glowing far above the drabness of the Crush of Humanity.  You can surely spot me, even from afar.  And don’t worry.  Please fear not.  Approach me.  I assure you you’ll be greeted with a smile.  Say “Hi!”.  Why not.  You may even like me.  I promise I don’t bite.  And then you’ll have met me.  Become part of the Story.  You and the rest of the world it seems.

sylviandavid says:
Steve.... How funny that you were famous..... It's a good lesson for me as I am reading this.... when I see someone I am going to take a risk and say hello and hope they will be friendly back.... If not.... well, I may see them in a bar later and feel like I snubbed them...Sylvia
Posted on: May 23, 2009
sheba124 says:
My my my, Stevie is famous.... lol. Just put on a little hat and striped sweater and it will be "Where's Stevie",
Posted on: May 01, 2009
KeikoCreative says:
So u are famous now:)) Joost will be jealous now ha ha:D My famous TB Stevie:) U know what? Is becoz u ain't tall that is why u stand out more:P Looks great fun u are having there:))
Posted on: Apr 25, 2009
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Mega-tourism :)
Mega-tourism :)
Old Town Dali is threaded with man…
Old Town Dali is threaded with ma…
Market Fish (detail)
Market Fish (detail)
Red & Green
'Red & Green'
Bean Sprouts (detail)
Bean Sprouts (detail)
Ginger Weight
Ginger Weight
Market Lady in Dali.
Market Lady in Dali.
Keeping the vegetables watered and…
Keeping the vegetables watered an…
Market Onions (detail)
Market Onions (detail)
Spring Onions (detail)
Spring Onions (detail)
Market Greens
Market Greens
Construction : roof tiles ready …
'Construction' : roof tiles ready…
Three school kids in Dali in their…
Three school kids in Dali in thei…
The prize of a TB smile awaits the…
The prize of a TB smile awaits th…
Indigo Batik sarong (detail)
Indigo Batik sarong (detail)
Dali Graffitti.
Dali Graffitti.
A market in Dali
A market in Dali
The markets over (for him anyways…
The market's over (for him anyway…
Oh yes people, a new breed of trav…
Oh yes people, a new breed of tra…
Woof!
"Woof!"
Red lanterns in Dali.
Red lanterns in Dali.
Silverware being beaten and crafte…
Silverware being beaten and craft…
:D
:D
Dali
photo by: Stevie_Wes