Monday morning in Kunming saw me rested at 7am and ready to go somewhere. Not just somewhere but to the Stone Forest. This should have been my highlight from Kunming since the city itself has not much to offer. But one look outside the window and I decided that I rather stay in bed until I had to leave the room. Torrential rains going on outside settled the matter for me. No sightseeing for the moment. The moment turned into the whole day since the rain never let up and it being my first vacation day I decided to do what I like best, which was reading. When my friend Babsi finally arrived at 6:30 we had dinner at the hostel and left at 8pm for the train station. We walked to bus no. 2 and took it all the way to the end. From there the train station was just around the corner. We left with the train at 22:40 and after 30 minutes of music and/or Chinese advertising which was loudly promoted through the speakers, eventually all was switched off. Finally silence came over the compartment only to be interrupted by loud snoring from the guy below.
We arrived at 6:22 in Dali and attentive as the Chinese are, they woke us exactly one hour before, again with music and bright lights. Can’t beat that as a wake-up call. Babsi had arranged with the hotel for a driver to pick us up and he brought us to the Yin Feng or Silver Maple Hotel. Too bad that nobody was waiting for us. When someone eventually arrived we had to wait another 20 minutes but then we conveniently got upgraded to a bigger room and forgot our worries. After a quick shower I was refreshed enough to leave the hotel and start exploring. The view from our roof was already impressive.
When we left we headed first to the Catholic Church were we said a quick hello to Jesus
and then after I had breakfast across the street. I tried a steamed jiaozi stuffed with pork which were absolutely delicious.
Thus satisfied we walked up on the North gate wall (the old city of Dali is surrounded by a city wall with four gates)
and then we were off to a produce market. Everything looked fresh and inviting.
We also had heard from the hotel that the Third Moon Festival (basically power shopping) was still going on at the West gate so we went in search of this next. Once there we walked up and down the festival street, tried spicy tofu, rice cakes and fresh bread.
We then headed for the Jade Emu, a hostel to check out if the hostel in Dali was as good as the one in Kunming. It looked nice and actually had wi-fi that let me connect with Facebook. Yeah, hostels are by far the best places to stay in China!
There we got information on how to get up the Cangshan Mountain. We decided to take the chair lift up. There was still a threat of rain in the air and no point in walking uphill forever only to get drenched. Once up we visited the Zhonghe temple. There was not much else to see though, especially with the view hindered by clouds. So we just stopped for a while, Babsi had a bowl of vegetable soup. The soup was made from chicken stock but my little vegan friend didn’t care, because here the chickens were happy.
Once down the mountain we walked all the way to the Three Pagodas and once inside all the way to the end of the temple area. That was quite a walk especially after already walking around the whole day and having only a little bit of sleep.
Going back into town we took a tuk-tuk, got off at the South Gate and wanted to checked out the Dali Museum. The museum unfortunately was closed but the building with the enclosing garden was still interesting.
Next up we wanted to see some of the bars recommended on LP, but we ended in a massage parlor where we got a foot massage. Definitely needed that after the long day. When we left we saw a shop across the street that sold, mountain gear and I bought a waterproof jacket, waterproof mountain shoes and a little down jacket. I didn’t bring enough clothes and no way was I doing the upcoming trekking tour without the right gear.
Before dinner we stopped at a beer, had a beer to relax and shared a fried cheese as an appetizer. The cheese was topped with granulated sugar which didn’t work for me with the beer.
We ate dinner at the golden panda which was recommended as well in the LP only now we found a place. The food was forgettable though, the complimentary tea tasted of dirt and overall I was wondering when exactly Lonely Planet had been here the last time. But at least we had a good time. Yours, Pollybert