From Shuhe we caught a ‘baker’s van’ taxi to Lijiang’s massive new railway station and retraced our route two hours South to Dali. Dusk was drawing in as we approached, skirting Erhai, the 25 mile long lake just outside the town.
Dali is two cities: the ancient town where we stayed and a modern metropolis Xiaguan (or New Dali). Dali was traditionally the stronghold of the Bai people. Ethnicity is taken seriously in China. All Chinese identity cards list people’s ethnic groups and there is an effort to maintain costume and culture, if only for the tourist market (both internal and external).
After a long taxi ride through Xiaguan we arrived at our modern hotel in the Old Town.
The area was hit by a terrible earthquake in 1925, so the old town with its 14th century has probably been largely rebuilt. It certainly continues to be redeveloped to cater for modern tourist needs. Our hotel here was much more conventional than anywhere else we had stayed so far.
We only had a couple of nights here and illness in the group meant that we didn’t explore the town as much as we wanted to.
Three of us went looking for a taxi to visit Erhai. The area round the lake – once just fields and a small village – is being developed rapidly with apartment blocks. We could see major infrastructure developments being carved into the hillsides on the opposite shore as well.
The taxi dropped us off at one of the four major gateways. Dali, unlike Lijiang and Shuhe, is built on a regular grid system and its more difficult to get lost. I gave it a good go though.
You can see the Monkey in the background. He was available to be photographed all over town, often with his friend the pig.
We missed stuff wherever we went on this trip but I feel we missed a lot more in Dali. Circumstances and time were against us. Before we knew it the alarm clock was ringing and we were desperately hunting for a taxi to Dali airport…