Surrounded by mountains and with Er Hai lake at its centre, Dali old town is beautiful. Dali has 25 ethnic minorities, Bai being the main one. Dali is known for its marble. Houses are decorated with marble paintings. We stayed in a 4* hotel, one of the fanciest of the whole trip. Once we’d checked in, our first stop was the post office and lunch. Just a couple of us and our guide. He took us to a new place he wanted to try and ordered our food: egg and tomato fried rice, a spicy pork and veg dish, steamed rice, mange tout and a clear bok choi soup. In the afternoon we walked to three pagodas and caught a rickshaw back.
Dinner was at a cool upstairs cafe. I had the tofu and vegetable soup served in a huge clay bowl. We all went out to experience the Dali nightlife to a bar called Bad Monkey. It was run by a half Jamaican, half German guy from Manchester with dreadlocks. A Scottish band played while we danced and drank long island ice teas and amber ale brewed by the bar.
On our second day we caught a minibus to a market with locals selling their wares. Everything from salad, vegetables, herbs and spices to meat, pigs heads, fish and incense. We went for a walk to explore, down some back streets, past a coffin workshop, rice paddies, a traditional old house from the Qing Dynasty now separated into apartments. We stopped for some street food - tasty filled fried bread.
We picked up our hire bikes and cycled to a Bai minority show. A tea ceremony wedding performance. We were served and drank three types of tea while we watched performers sing and dance. A bitter tea which symbolised life before marriage, a sweet honey and walnut tea which symbolised life during marriage, and a spicy tea which symbolised retirement. After the show we cycled through rice paddies, hills and past local temples. We had lunch at a local cafe. We shared a sort of omelette, tofu chips, meat and veg. We visited a Bai workshop where they dyed beautiful indigo fabrics which were then hand stitched with white cotton patterns afterwards. The dye came from a local plant. I bought a throw. We finished with a boat ride on Er Hai lake with a local fisherman who fished with cormorant birds. After the late night out, an early night in with room service was in order.
Last Stop: Tiger Leaping Gorge
Next Stop: Kunming