Monday, March 26, 2012

Dali, Yunnan, China

From 2012 03 Dali

After touring the Stone Forest in Kunming, we were dropped off at the Kunming west bus station to catch a bus for the four hour ride to Dali, one hundred sixty miles west of Kunming. We walked in, bought tickets for the next bus, and waited only fifteen minutes before departure. There's much to be said about the intercity travel options in China. (The toilet facilities in the older bus stations of China are something else again, but here, too, China is rapidly modernizing.)

Yunnan province might be the most ethnically diverse in China. Dali is the ancient capital of the Bai kingdom. Its walled old city is the main tourist attraction and where we stayed. The old city is laid out in a neat grid pattern, of which the north-south pedestrian-only Fuxing Road contains the best shopping and the east-west pedestrian-only Huguo and Renmin Roads contain the most restaurants. We ate in the "Bad Monkey" and the "Tibetan Cafe," typical of the small, slightly seedy nature of the area, catering to young Westerners, including many backpackers who are attracted to Yunnan's hiking trails. The atmosphere is reminiscent of the old hippie culture, updated with ubiquitous Wi-Fi. By the way, China seems to block social networks like Twitter and Facebook altogether and even Gmail is hit or miss. Sometimes you can connect, sometimes you can't.

About a mile from the old city are the Three Pagodas, a complex of Buddhist temples, the oldest of which dates back about twelve hundred years. The temples stretch up the mountainside, unveiling themselves one by one as you walk the complex. In a separate location there's a cable car you can ride halfway up the mountain to a trail and guest house. The cable car was closed the day we attempted it, so we can only imagine the views.

More photos from Dali after the jump.

From 2012 03 Dali

From 2012 03 Dali

All the photos from Dali can be viewed here.

Photos from Shanghai can be viewed here.
Photos from Kunming can be viewed here.
Photos from Lijiang can be viewed here.

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