A local farmers' market.
Had kind of a depressing afternoon. It was still too hot to do the bike ride by 5:00, so I decided to explore more of the city on foot instead. (I really wish I had a normal body that could function in the heat.) So I walked to the far northeast corner of the city, to an area not frequented by western tourists. I have mentioned already that there are a lot of small dogs here, and I even joked with my mom that I didn't know how they keep from getting hit by the erratic traffic on the streets. As I was walking, I came upon a dog who appeared to have been hit by a car, and was obviously dying. And there was absolutely nothing I could do to help it. I hadn't seen any vets in the town, and the other people passing by glanced at the dog, looked concerned, but didn't do anything.
More scenes at the farmers' market.
I was more than a mile away from my hostel, so I couldn't go to them for help. In the end I had to just walk away from it. The poor thing was making the most pitiful noises. I felt just awful. But honestly, even looking back I can't think of anything that I could have done for it. That will be a terrible memory for me.
I came across another dog at dinner that helped to cheer me up. I'll post his picture here. He was a tiny little thing, and he apparently belongs to the owners of the restaurant. He has free reign of the place, and likes to play with the customers and any movable objects he can find. He was so adorable. And at one point, he just stopped and peed in the middle of the restaurant floor.
Ok, so that is fresh meat being sliced up. It is not on ice, just on a table. This is why I generally stick to vegetarian dishes in China, though I do plan to get some meat dumplings tonight in spite of this.
No one noticed besides me. But I've noticed the Chinese are really into mopping, so no worries.
That leads to some other random things I've noticed on my trip, and I'll share them here. (I posted some random observations in my blog for my 2008 trip too, if you are interested in more tidbits.) Here goes:
Women here tend to wear high heels for any and all occasions, regardless of the rest of their attire. I just don't get it. I see women walking around temples, obviously sightseeing, in cut off shorts, a t-shirt, and stiletto boots. They must think I'm terribly lame in my gym shoes, but at least I'll be able to walk into my forties!
Lots of people wear shirts with English on them, but this does not mean that they speak English.
Poor chickens. Thanks to my book club, I know what is coming next for them...
A couple of mottoes that stuck in my head were "Nestle Quik" and "I want a unique book". I'm guessing the latter was trying to say she wanted an exclusive book deal? Not sure. But this isn't really any different than Americans buying charms or getting tatoos with Chinese characters without having any idea what they mean. In fact, I bought some items with characters on them today, and I have no idea what they mean. They could say "I'm an ignorant white devil" for all I know.
Most restaurants in Dali
have bowls of fresh produce on their steps. I believe this is to demonstrate the quality of their ingredients. (I guess you could say I'm eating local, I just flew a very long way to do it!) But I saw the little restaurant dog eating out of one of the veggie bowls when no one else was looking, so I've gotta say that I'm not that impressed.
The hardware district. Just lots of shops filled with random pipes and metals. I wouldn't want to try to find building supplies here.
There is a local ethnic minority community here called the Bai. Many of the women walk around with these wicker baskets that are designed to hang over their shoulders and down their backs. They carry some heavy looking loads in these baskets. And little girls even have mini-versions with lighter loads.
Not a single Bai woman has offered me any pot during my time here. My guide book told me they would be asking incessantly. I wouldn't dare risk it in China (strict drug laws), but still, why no offers? I'm a little insulted. Do they not think I'm cool enough to want it?
Various businesses will give people a small packet of tissues when they make a purchase. For example, when I got my Across the Bridge Noodles, they gave me three kleenix.
View of vendors from the city wall.
The reason is obvious--no one provides toilet paper here (apart from my wonderful hotel) so it is something that everyone needs. But it seems odd. It is kind of like they are giving me toilet paper with my dinner.
I swear I saw a Chinese George Costanza yesterday. Seriously. I really wanted to stop him and have a conversation to see if he would sounds like him, but since I have no idea how to ask "are you master of your domain" in Mandarin, I let the opportunity pass. But there are some characteristics that are obvious regardless of the ethnicity.
The rooftops of Dali.
Not too much to report so far today. I really love this hotel. I'll post a review about it when I get back home. I did some shopping this morning among the blocks and blocks of tourist shops, which all sell the same stuff. Did some bargaining. I probably still got ripped off, but at least I didn't pay full price. I'm hanging out indoors for a while during the hottest part of the day, then if I've kept my courage up, I'm going to ride a bike to the lake this afternoon. I say that because I've always thought you would have to be nuts to ride a bike in China. It is madness on the streets and I don't understand how cyclists aren't being hit left and right. But the roads seem a little better here, and it is only a 15 minute ride. Of course I haven't ridden a bike in years, so we'll see how that goes. I'm excited about tomorrow. I'm going on a 5 hour hike in the mountain and then I'm going to come back and have a 60 minute Chinese accupressure massage in my room! It is quite a splurge at $20, but I figure if I had the option to pay that in the US I would jump at the chance.
Ok, so here are some photos from Dali