It might seem peculiar that we took the train 2,660 kilometres from Shanghai to Kunming, and then the 40 minute flight from Kunming to Dali, instead of the bus, but there you are. We were met at the small Dali airport by Vickie from CITS and Mr Chung the driver. Mr Chung would reappear two days later to drive us to Lijiang and further north towards the Tibetan border. Our hotel was a few miles from the airport in Dali old town, and driving there from the airport gave us the opportunity to see the new town on the edge of Lake Erhai, which reminded me of a nice, clean resort on Lake Geneva.
The Landscape Hotel in Dali old town was super! It is spread over quite an area, with several buildings, old and new, serving various purposes. This guy on TripAdviser says “This is a cheap Chinese Hotel for Chinese tourists.” but I strongly disagree. It’s a fine hotel. He just got a bad room on a bad day.
Here, for those readers of this blog who I know specialise in toilets, are the public conveniences at the Landscape.
Our room at The Landscape was lovely. Outside, it lead onto a nice colourful courtyard.
One of the things that hits you in Dali old town is the mass of bright colours on a background of old wood.
There were some bus trip tours staying at the Landscape. On the second morning, about 80 people seemed to arrive for their breakfast at exactly the same time, 7:45 am, and the food ran out for a while. I think that the food manager was more concerned than anyone else, and it was quite amusing seeing six tourists, like monkeys, descend on a bunch of bananas that had been brought out.
The walls of Dali old town are still intact at various points. We climbed one of the wall towers to see if we could see the famous three pagodas.
Behind the trees in the middle distance is one of the pagodas. It was too hot to walk there, that day.
Dali is described in the Lonely Planet guide thus: “Dàlǐ , the original funky banana-pancake backpacker hang-out in Yúnnán, was once the place to chill, with its stunning location sandwiched between mountains and the Erhǎi Hu (Erhai Lake). Loafing here for a couple of weeks was an essential Yúnnán experience.” And it then goes on to suggest that Dali is now a bit too touristy.
There were a lot of visitors, mostly Chinese, but it made for a nice atmosphere during the evenings.
We had a nice meal at one of the tourist restaurants, and got talking to two Canadians. The elder one was about my age, and he was taking his son on a three-month trip around south-east Asia on the cheap, staying in youth hostels, which he said were fine apart from the beds which he found too hard. He was an ‘ex-hippy’ from Calgary, and had done various trips many years previously. He was fine, and I enjoyed talking to him, but it’s amazing how quickly some people get into the ‘just-travelling-man’ and ‘last-time-I-was-in-Africa/Asia/India’ kinda stuff. I usually keep quiet in these circumstances, until they can’t remember the name of some place they are talking about, and then I’ll add, out of the blue, “Shela Beach? That would be the Peponi Hotel then, I think. Nice place.”
Travel one-upmanship. I love it.
Lindsey and I were once on a wonderful six-day ride from Nairobi to Lake Turkana and back. There were lots of interesting people on the 16-man trip, which I previously wrote about here. But one couple kept arguing about whether something-or-other had happened on their first, or second, trip to Pakistan. It seemed very important to both of them to get their travel facts correct. Of course, the rest of us couldn’t give a hoot.
I’ve not been to Pakistan. So you can get me on that one, and an awful lot of other ones as well.
Anyway, this Canadian seemed to be something to do with importing drums, and he seemed to know his stuff when it came to drums. His son was about to do the Tiger Leaping Gorge trek. The old guy’s knees had given out, though, and he couldn’t walk downhill anymore, so instead he was taking off with some Swedish ladies he’d met in the Dali hostel, who were taking him somewhere else for a few days.
We bumped into him and his son a few days later in Lijiang. In two ten-minute conversations he mentioned Charlie, Bob, and magic mushrooms at least once. So he probably knew what he was talking about.
I nearly forgot about the meal, which was very tasty. We were not yet into yak meat country, and I may have ordered veg, in deference to the Canadian hippy.