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Kunming to Dali--like night and day

Dali Travel Blog

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Dali at dusk.

Yesterday afternoon I visited those two pagodas, which were really nothing special.  They are basically just two abandoned structures surrounded by very small gardens.  Then I went back to the hotel and took a nap, as I hadn't really slept much the night before.  When I woke I had a new Chinese roommate.  He really wanted to go out and do something with someone else, and I still wanted to try the Across the Bridge Noodles, so we set out together to find some.  He spoke some English, enough for us to share some small talk.  I had slept much longer than I intended, and by the time we went out it was nearly 9:00.  I didn't realize when we went in the restaurant that they closed at 9.  So I didn't have much time to eat my noodles.  And the dish was so huge that it would have taken at least an hour to eat it all.
The mountains beyond Dali.
  It was tasty, but I ended up leaving more than half of it on the table so the restaurant could close.  My roommate, Nigel, was able to set Gaoling's cell phone to English language for me, which was great.  Prior to that I couldn't read anything!  Then I went back to the hostel and read in the lounge for a while.  But it wasn't really my type of scene--the music was blaring and the drinks were flowing, which made it inconvenient for reading.  (Boring of me, I know.)

This morning I woke up late--around 9:30.  I had planned to catch an early bus to Dali, but due to my late start I didn't get on the road until 11:40.  I found it surprisingly easy to buy my ticket for the bus and find the right one.
  (I'm having to rely on my Mandarin knowledge far more than I did on my last trip, which is good for me.)  The trip was supposed to take 4-5 hours, but ended up taking 6 due to the expressway being closed at one point.  We had to make a 2 hour detour through the countryside.  But this was actually kind of good for me because the detour took us on steep, winding roads through the countryside.  I got to see some very rural areas that I would not have seen if we had stayed on the expressway.  There were a lot of terraced fields flooded with water and green shoots that I'm guessing were rice.  The fields usually contained a few workers wearing the traditional wide straw hats that the West associates with Chinese peasants.  I also saw a surprising mixture of buildings in these areas.
  Many of the homes were old and had visible damage to the walls or roofs.  But then right in the middle of these run down buildings there would be an obviously new home that was large and covered in shiny white and blue tiles.  They looked really nice, like you might expect to see in a city.  I also noticed that most of the homes were built within a complex rather than individually.  I saw farmers herding small black goats and large animals that might have been water buffalo.  Sometimes the bus had to stop to allow these herds to pass.  It was a pretty interesting bus ride, and didn't feel like 6 hours.  As usual, I was the only westerner on board.

I got to Dali around 5:00 this afternoon, and I know it is still early, but I absolutely love it!!!  I liked Kunming, but it is a very different vibe here.
  Sandi, I'm sure it is probably unrecognizable from when you were here, because it is all about tourism now.  But the old wooden buildings, the small town feel, the mountains in the background, and the place I'm staying all come together to form a fantastic atmosphere.  I found this hotel online.  It is relatively new, though it is in a really old wooden building in the local Bai style.  (The Bai are a minority ethnic group in China, one of many.)  My room is tiny, but who cares!  It has painted wooden panels on the walls, and the window opens to a nice view of the (manmade) stream outside of the hotel.  Plus I have my own bathroom, which towels, soap, and toilet paper!  (It is funny the things you'll get excited about when traveling.
Tiny restaurant where I ate dinner, called the "Good Panda". I had spinach with garlic and eggplant with garlic sauce. Yum!
)  The single bed is larger than a twin, and has a mosquito net above.  (And now that I'm typing this in a darkened room I understand the need for that net.)  The owners are a couple who moved here from Beijing a year ago to get away from the noise and pollution of Beijing.  The man is actually Chinese-American, but has been living in China for 9 years.  The hotel is very small, only 5 rooms, and so they are able to provide the kind of individual attention that you just can't get in the larger hostels.  Oh, and they have software on this computer that can get around the Chinese government's firewall, so I can access facebook!!!

I actually have no idea what I'm going to do tomorrow, and that feels kind of nice.  I'll just wake up and see where the day takes me. 

Hope everyone back home is doing well!
jenmarie77 says:
Hi Danielle! Well, my entries won't be nearly as entertaining as that. I don't have the patience :) But it is really fun to share experiences and photos right after they happen, rather than waiting 2 weeks to share them. What did we ever do before the internet?
Jen
Posted on: May 16, 2010
mariadanielle says:
So glad things are going well! I just finished Eat Pray Love, so your travel stories are supplanting those of Elizabeth Gilbert's - no pressure. So far so good!
xo,
D
Posted on: May 16, 2010
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Dali at dusk.
Dali at dusk.
The mountains beyond Dali.
The mountains beyond Dali.
Tiny restaurant where I ate dinner…
Tiny restaurant where I ate dinne…
All of this for $3.  I love China …
All of this for $3. I love China…
Rest stop on bus route.  Really gr…
Rest stop on bus route. Really g…
Dali Hotels & Accommodations review
A Very Special Place
This is one of those special places you sometimes hear about during your travels. If you have a chance to stay here, do it! You won't be disappointe… read entire review
Dali
photo by: Stevie_Wes