27.01.2013 - 30.01.2013 16 °C
Hello, Alice here..yes that's right, I have finally been allowed to contribute a blog entry! Don't expect too much detail though, but I have been instructed that a day by day account is necessary. So here goes....
Sunday 27th January
Got up early for a huge banana pancake cooked by 'Mama' before heading off to Dali on the bus. The journey was interesting, looking at the rural Yunnan landscape with wide valleys and hills and lots of people farming in the bright sunshine. Although the driving made us a little bit nervous, in China it seems that if you honk first it is ok to overtake anything whether or not there is oncoming traffic or a blind bend!!
Having arrived safely we spent the afternoon wandering around Dali. Very enjoyable in the sunshine and I was down to a mere 2 layers of clothing! The buildings were not quite as old and interesting as in Lijiang, but there were far fewer people, and it felt a little more authentic despite the large number of Western bars and cafes.
Monday 28th January
Had a fantastic day cycling from Dali to a town further up Lake Erhai called Shaping. After a slightly chilly start the rest of the day was the perfect temperature for cycling and bright and sunny. We set off on the 30km cycle along the road directly to Shaping, trying to get there in time for the local market. We only made a few stops on the way up, largely for me taking photos of Bai people working in the fields and fishing on the lake. It was amazing to see the farmers in their traditional clothes carrying huge loads of produce that I'm sure I couldn't even lift, despite being half their age! Also saw a man fishing with cormorants, which I thought was pretty cool. We made it to Shaping in time, and the market was brilliant! Full of locals doing their weekly shopping for everything from wicker baskets, clothes, groceries to new years decorations and live chickens. There was even a dentist at one stall...not sure I would have wanted to go to him for a check up in the middle of the market though!
We headed back towards Dali at a much slower pace, taking some backroads down to the lake shore through the Bai-style villages. These villages were great, although they were poor farming communities all of the buildings had beautiful paintings on the white washed walls. We found a relaxing spot for a break and some lunch we had bought from the market on the lake shore. My legs were pretty tired by this point, so it took us a while to cycle back to Dali along the backroads with a few breaks in the villages along the way.
Having finally made it back from out 70km cycle we recovered with food and a pint of 'real beer' from a Western bar in town. Duncan particularly enjoyed this, I think he has been missing proper drinks rather than the weak Chinese beer.
Tuesday 29th January
Spent a lazy morning in Dali, wandering around the town and market again, before taking the bus to Kunming. This journey took about 6 hours, and was not so enjoyable, it was hot and sticky on the bus and the seats were not the most comfortable. Got to Kunming quite late so just grabbed some food in a local restaurant before going to bed.
Wednesday 30th January
Got up early to look around Kunming as we only had the day here with our flight to Guillin in the evening. Glad we didn't leave oursleves more time in Kunming as it is not the most interesting city to visit as a tourist. We wandered around Green Park lake which was quite pretty, and watched the locals dancing and doing tai-chi in the park. The only other sight of interest was the bird and flower market (although mainly birds and small pets). We grabbed lunch before leaving Kunming for the airport, going to a restaurant for 'over the bridge noodles' a classic Kunming dish where you are given a selection of raw ingredients and noodles which you cook in hot broth to make the final dish. The food was good when we finally got it, but the restaurant was very confusing and it took us 10 minutes to work out how to order at one counter and get food at another before finding a seat as no-one spoke English and we are still struggling with any Chinese!
After the short flight we arrived Guilin in time for a walk around the town centre. It felt quite relaxed for such a large city, and had several lakes in the centre which looked pretty with various bridges and pagados lit up coloured lights, although Guilin seems to have very few actual tourist 'sights' to see.
So that brings us to today, when we have arrived in Yangshuo, but I will leave it up to Duncan to tell you about that part of our trip next time (after he has edited everything I have written first!).