and Potato Heaven!
: (4.9 stars)
Sep 27, 2003 05:17
Pros: beautiful scenery, place
full of surprises, friendly locals, good food
We're now in Dali, a beautiful town set between towering cloud shrouded
mountains and a large lake. It's very touristy but in a fun way.
There are many busloads of Chinese tourists and not so many westerners
here at the moment. It's hilarious as we've become one of the tourist
attractions! A group of us will be sitting at an outdoor table at
a cafe, and Chinese tourists will take photos of us or film us with
their video cameras. Now we know how the costumed hill tribe people
As Yunnan province borders Tibet (and also has lots of ethnic minority
groups) the market stalls are colourful with silver and beaded jewellery,
batik material and colourful clothing. There's great street food,
in particular chunks of baked potato on skewers coated in chilli
powder. Finally, somewhere in Asia with baked potatoes!! China is
the last place I would have expected them. There are a few bizarre
characters wandering around town such as the foot fetish man (an
old Chinese guy who examines everyone's shoes all the time - we're
trying to work out if he's fascinated with our comparitively large
feet or sells/makes shoes?!) and the lady who targets Steve every
time we walk past trying to sell him ganja. She doesn't bother anyone
except him, and can't get over the fact he doesn't want to buy any!
A group of us hired bicycles to explore Dali's surrounds this morning.
It was such beautiful scenery and we encountered so many friendly
(and fascinated!) locals. We rode along trails through rice paddies
and vegetable farms, cobble-stone pathed villages and and down to
the lake. At one point we encountered a primary school where the
kids were so excited they were screaming and laughing and crowding
around us on our bikes. When we left we seriously had 100 or so
kids standing at the gates waving us goodbye. I'm sure the teachers
Last night we celebrated Jewish new years with our Isreali entourage
(and an American and a German for a bit of variety) and learnt some
of their customs, like eating apple with honey for a sweet year
ahead. I've also been learning the Jewish art of haggling and am
now getting things for a quarter (or less!) of the asking price,
it's great to have good bargainers as friends! We've also explored
the city walls surrounding the centre of town which was interesting
- great views and atmosphere.
China really does keep surprising us - it's nothing like we expected,
and is so varied in people and cultures and cuisines. Speaking of
which, it's time for more Tsingtao and Gongbao chicken - this may
turn out to be a hard country to leave!