Long gone are the days where you could arrive in some distant land and be the only tourist there. In China there are 1.3 billion people potentially willing to travel, so the main sights in China are packed full of Chinese tourists. The odd thing is they seem to travel in groups and stick to the main drag, once you leave that you hardly see anyone.
And so it was that in Dali, a pretty walled town in Yunnan, the two or three main roads in the old city were filled with people, shops selling souvenirs or bars and restaurants with loud music. It was a little bit exhausting. And yet, a couple or roads away from that, I only saw a handful of people, an old couple on a stroll, a young mother with a toddler or someone walking a dog. It was hard to believe this was the same town.
Lake Erhai is a short drive away and pretty in its own way. Several women approached us offering us to show us cormorant fishing but we turned them down as they boats looked flimsy. There is a ferry that takes you to an island where there is a temple and there were several buses offloading their cargo of people. The stalls by the ferry only seemed to sell food or hats! They do love hats here.
A famous landmark is The Three Pagodas. The story goes that the people believed that a dragon lived in the sky and its cough and tears made the rain, so the people build the three pagodas believing that it would stop it.
Our tour group stayed in a guest house owned by an artists who was having a party for all his artistic friends one evening and insisted we attended. We could eat all we wanted but would have to pay for our own drinks…I didn’t find out if that was the custom here.
The drive to Dali was stunning. Rollling hills as far as the eye could see, filled with green trees contrasting with the red earth. Pretty cultivated terraces, small yellow rapeseed fields mingled with pink and white blossom trees. It was just beautiful.