Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Hippie and Chill Vibe of Dali

Dali was one of the places I had in mind when I was traveling in Yunnan, I decided to go because it was along the way and between the places I was going to visit already.


Old Town

Dali is along the ancient Tea Horse route that was important to the trade and commerce in the region. The ancient city contrasts the modern facade of Xiaguan or the new city a couple of kilometers away. I didn't go all this far to go to a bustling metropolis; I wanted to catch a glimpse of how this part of China was centuries ago.



According to ancient literature, the city was an important gateway to the Silk Road, and is a seat of power and military influence of Yunnan. Today, it only has remnants of its glorious past and is a prime tourist destination for locals and foreigners alike.



The courtyards, houses and other structures within the walls of the ancient city have elaborate decorations and wall screenings that have Jianchuan woodcarvings, wash drawings, colored patterns and marbles. Walking along the cobblestone walkways elicit a sense of nostalgia in me, my mind drifts to centuries pat just trying to imagine what this place was.



I couldn't help but notice how a lot of the Chinese there dressed like hippies and a lot of the items on sale were hippie-like as well. There were also a number of musicians playing on the street and bars or even selling their music CDs to passersby.



To add to the authenticity of the old town, there were quite a lot of locals dressed in traditional attire, especially those from the Bai ethnic minority group.

Cultural Adventure


Dali isn't just about the old town, there were still a few spots of note. I booked a tour with the hostel to see the other places in the region. Unfortunately, I was grouped with other Chinese and the guide spoke little to no English, but thankfully I was with students who spoke decent English.




We went to another town that was smaller and similar to the more famous one. I got to try a pizza-like delicacy that the locals eat (pictured above).





We also went to some shops that sold fabrics, clothes, bags and similar items made by the locals. It was quite similar to the process of batik weaving and making in other parts of Southeast Asia.






Some of the food on display were quite similar to the ones I see back home.



One of the biggest draws of Dali is Erhai Lake, which is one of the biggest fresh water lakes in China; its name translates to sea-shaped like an ear. There were small fishing communities around the lake and ethnic minorities worshiping and offering in the surrounding temples.


The Three Pagodas, which were built centuries ago, are famous structures in Dali.

Dali, is a city that combines the old and new, typical of the many places I've been to in Asia. It just goes to show that a country will only rise if it revives its past and cherishes it. It can act as a guide to its future and provide some answers to the questions of the present.

How to Get to Dali

Dali is accessible by train or bus; I took the latter option from Lijiang which costs RMB 56 one-way. You can also take the bus or train from Kunming.



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