Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Dali

Well, I think I've been one of the most miserable people in China these last few days. The cold has hit me pretty bad and I am a totally wreck. The girls are doing much better. As I mentioned before we took an overnight train to Kunming which was actually only 21.5 hours. We were in the hard sleepers with the beds stacked 3 high and all the compartments open in the car so there is a lot of people, noise, smoke, etc. There is no air-con either so the train was about 36 degrees for the entire ride. Combined with the fact that we didn't really have any food or drink with us..... We are still in the learning curve but getting better. I actually went through a stretch there where I didn't sleep or eat for 3 days I think. So much for my mommy taking care of me......
We arrived in Kunming early in the morning of the 15th and went to see the "stone forest" at Shilin, some 80km away. We made a day trip of it with some crazy chinese tour group that kept making stops at Jade stores, and then at a huge Buddhist temple complex before finally getting there. The stone forest is a protected park that has lots of sharp and jagged rocks sticking straight up out of the ground and narrow pathways to wander around between them. There are also little ponds and picnic tables and such to make it a nice place to hang out if you can get away from all the chinese tourists. We haven't seen many western tourists really but there are lots of chinese ones everywhere so the actual sites are still pretty busy. The minority group called the Sani also live in the area and act as guides while dressed up in their traditional costumes.
We spent that night in Kunming and then the next morning took the train north-west for about 7 hours to get to Dali. Dali is a relatively small town again, well known as a good place to hang out and relax. There are mountains and a big lake nearby, the town is a walled one with a more traditional architectural style and things are really cheap. We are staying at a place for $2.5 each, including free internet and laundry. It also has a really nice courtyard with little covered huts, ping-pong table, restaurant, etc. Anyway, we will be staying here for a few days so I can properly recover.
At this point I must say that I am quite surprised with China. I thought it would be rougher but it is not nearly as dirty and unorganized as I was led to believe. The train stations are spotless, the streets are pretty free of litter and they don't actually smoke or spit as much as I thought they would. Maybe it's just this part of the country. It is much drier here and the soil is very very red. Coming in to Dali here we were reminded a little of Lake Chelan with the look of the mountains on the other side of the lake though there are rice fields everywhere on this side. Temperatures range from low 20's at night to mid 30's during the day though we are at a higher elevation now so it is a bit cooler.
Ammon

2 Comments:

At 5:11 AM , Blogger Sandra said...

I am now here in Seoul. My first day here... tired !!! I am sick as well, but I guess I am doing much better than you.. I will update my online journal when I get back... Take care!!!

 
At 5:42 PM , Anonymous Shean said...

Hi Maggie: Happy Birthday!!!!! Just think now you can round your age up to 50 legitimately. FOFLMAO

Love and Bear Hugs your so much younger friend. Shean

 

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