We wrapped up our China chapter with a few weeks of jam packed travel with my family around the country. Being my family’s amateur translator, it definitely put my Mandarin to the test! It felt good to not be completely useless throughout the trip (especially after living here for 10 months. No excuses dude).
We trained from city to city on sleeper trains and endured some pretty long, claustrophobic, tedious and um… interesting journeys. But with good company, a good book, beautiful scenery and my ipod – it wasn’t so bad. But you should’ve seen my family’s faces on their first Chinese sleeper train ride experience – priceless!!
There are so many places we saw and I could go on about each of them, but I absolutely loved Dali (south west of China in Yunnan province). I kept saying to my sister “Wow I don’t feel like i’m in China!” but then as soon as I went to the public toilets, my little voice in my head said “spoke to soon, still in China buddy!”
Dali is split into ‘new Dali’ and ‘old Dali’, we only explored the old part which has a very chilled, folk like and hippy-ish demeanor to the place with people wearing yogi pants, bright colours, dreads and the odd monk passing you by. There are about twenty ethnic minorities living in the region and a few Buddhist sights you can visit including pagodas and temples. You still see the locals wearing traditional outfits as their daily working attire and carrying woven baskets transporting goods. Dali has a distinctive relaxed feel to it unlike any other Chinese city i’ve visited.
There’s mountains, rice fields and old villages surrounding parts of the city. It’s definitely worth hiring bikes for about $20NZD/day and go out and explore these areas.
Though I wouldn’t go as far as saying this place isn’t touristic as there’s still loads of shops and stalls kitted out for keen buyers, but I felt the bargaining factor wasn’t as big as other parts of the country which was interesting, and rather refreshing!
There are loads of stylish cafes, bars and restaurants with funky décor and a wide variety of food both Western and Chinese. At night you can take a stroll down the night markets, grab a bite or drink and watch buskers busking out their tunes.
If you go to China – go to Dali!