A Tibetan restaurant where I had my final Dali breakfast.
Whew! Ok, I got some much needed sleep, and I have some time I can spare before I take a bus to my next city. So I'll share as much as I can now, though some of the photos may have to wait a little longer.
My massage on Tuesday was fabulous. It was a full hour. A girl who couldn't have been more than 17 came to my hotel room. She was tiny, but boy was she ever strong! Unlike all other massages I've had, I kept all of my clothes on for this one. She used her hands, elbows, knees, and sometimes her whole body weight to really get at my muscles. I felt like I was tenderized, but in a good way.
After that I started to head out to find some dinner when Skye, one of the hotel owners, invited me to join them as they met some friends for dinner at a local Cantonese restaurant.
It was a fabulous feast, with duck, sweet and sour pork, corn soup, little omlets, and probably some other things that I can't recall. I normally don't like duck, but this was prepared in a very special way and was actually quite good. Apparently the chef soaks it for 5 hours during the day, then rubs it with spices and with orange peels before roasting it. It comes out dark brown with the head still attached. We had lots of beer with it, and even a shot of some really strong plum wine that he makes himself. The company was excellent. We were joined by their friend and his family of a wife, two young boys, and a baby girl. He is from Brunei (and later Canada), his wife was from Japan, David is American, Skye is Chinese, the Chef is from Hong Kong, and then there was me.
The pedestrian only street where my hotel was located.
So we were quite an international group. But the dinner seemed very authentically Chinese. We all ate from the large plates, just grabbing bites with our chopsticks. David and Skye's friend was quite a character. He has some interesting theories about child rearing and education--and I can't remember that last time I heard the F word used so many times in a single meal. David said I was really lucky to have an opportunity to have that food--normally the chef prepares good food, but since they are good friends he made an especially fabulous meal for us. This was the perfect end to my time in Dali
The next morning I very sadly packed up my things and caught a minibus to the bus station.
Another scene from the hotel courtyard. There are chickens in those wicker baskets.
The bus ride to Kunming
was pretty uneventful. The expressway was back open, so we didn't take the 2 hour detour. I was actually a little disappointed, because I had a much better seat for photos and wanted to take some out in the deep countryside and to capture some of those precarious roads along the mountainside on film. Oh well. I had a few hours to kill in Kunming before my train to Chengdu
, so I went back to the Green Lake Park. There were so many people out dancing. In fact, there were 3 different groups of dancers with their own music, plus a couple in what must be the garb of a local minority group who were belting out songs on a loud speaker, so it was quite a cacauphanous (sp?) mixture of music.
Scenes from the bus journey.
I took some pictures of all of the different groups, which I'll post.
Then I took a taxi to the train station. It was nothing like the nightmare I encountered is Xi'an on my last trip. The building looks really new, and was very easy to negotiate. There were announcements in English as well as Mandarin. And the biggest difference of all is that it was not swarmed with thousands and thousands of people, as the Xi'an station had been. I had a much smoother time getting on the train and finding my compartment.
One oddity about my train ride was that I was on a compartment filled mostly with Chinese military men. I'm pretty sure I was the only woman on the compartment. But there was only one other person in my compartment, and he was not one of the military guys, so that was nice.
The military guys kept talking to me in Mandarin, and I kept saying in Mandarin "I don't speak Mandarin", but that didn't stop them from continuing to talk and to look at my expectantly for responses. It was a little disconcerting. I'm going to choose to believe they were saying "how nice of you to visit our country. I hope you enjoy it here."
I went to sleep pretty early on the ride, but the next morning I looked out and saw that we were passing through some gorgeous scenery. I took some photos of that, too. One things about trains in China is that they always arrive on time. So we got to Chengdu at 2:40 and I caught a taxi to my hotel.
And I think I'd better wrap things up here so I can catch my next bus. The pandas will have to wait, I'm afraid :)