10-31-07........It is getting to the point that I am not sure what date it is or where I am. I am writing this a few days later. I believe on the 31st we took a flight from Guilin to Kunming. We want to go to Dali but there are no direct flights. The only way is to spend the night in Kunming. Which is ok, it is Marcia workplace and we got a very nice hotel room in the center of town for a good price ($20). After we checked in Marcia took us to dinner at a tradition Bai (her ethic group) restaurant. It was a real treat. They start you out with a little bowl of chicken soup (what part I was not sure of) with bones. Then they start bringing in each of plate after plate of stuff. First flowers, then spices, then vegetables, and then fish, then meat. NOT YET as I started to taste something. Then they brought us each in a bowl the size of a "punch bowl" of soup stock. They cook this soup with chicken and pork for 10 hours to prepare it for the meal
. OK NOW and you start shoveling in all the things you want in you soup. The local dump it all in. Me I pick and choose. It was fantastic. After dinner we went for a walk on "walk street". Which is a shopping area with a number of scenic spots along the way. No cars. After walking off some of our dinner about 1 hours worth we headed back to the hotel. It was an interesting room. The windows were one-way glass (or at least it looked that way when we were on the outside). We were on the third floor, which was the same level as a pedestrian walkway. It was nice but a little noisy. The bathroom was ultra modern made like a glass box, one side was tinted but the other clear. Time for bed.
11-1-07.........Off we go to Dali. We got to the airport in plenty of time. It is only a few minutes from downtown. Upon our arrival in Dali our driver, Mr. Yun, greeted us. Mr. Yun is Marcia's bother best friend. So off we went to Xinguan. Which is new Dali. A very modern city. We planned to stay there a night. We got a room at a very nice hotel. One of the reasons for staying there was that Marcia's father and bother were staying there on their way to Kunming. After we got settled in to our very nice rooms it was time for lunch. Her bother wanted to take us to lunch. So off we all went. We drove around the old part of new Dali (Xinguan) till we came across this what looked like a typical little street restaurant
. After you go in you realize that it might have been a typical little place (about 20x 20) but they had taken over almost the whole block and now each little spot was a private dinning room. After some discussion of fish and bell pepper they started bringing on the food. It just kept coming. Marcia's dad only spoke Bai. Her brother spoke both Bai and Mandarin. I only spoke English and Dawn only spoke Mandarin. So it was an interpreter's nightmare. We had a great time. The food finally stopped coming and we ate and talked. Afterward, we went back to the hotel and Marcia we with a family to visit family. She had not been home to Dali for almost 6 years except a couple of one or two day trips with a tour. Dawn and I decided to go exploring. It was getting dark and our hotel was right on the main park. They were having a Bai ethic folk dance at the park so we decided to check it our. The we wanted to see the Pearl of Pearl Park. So we climbed the steps to the top and found out what we thought was a silver pearl was really clear. We met a couple with a child on the way up. The boy about 5 said HELLO. So we greeted him back. Then the father who knows some English was so happy that he just started talking and asking questions. Dawn had to drag me way or we would have been at only the first level all night. Then at each level we ran into them again and by the time we started down we were all best friends.
11-2-07.............Our driver arrived at 9am sharp to take us to Old Dali
. Which is a ancient walled city about 40 minutes away. Our first stop was the ancient capital of Dali. Not much there except a Stella talking about a famous war. It was raining a little so time to move on. We got checked into the Friend's Guesthouse. A nice little hotel right outside the south city gate. Only problem there is no heat, it only bothered me. The fact that someone had smoked in their room bothered them. They also thought it to expensive for a Guesthouse. ($10). We decided to go exploring. We walked through the old city and then up through a local street market. It seemed like Marcia had a direction but was not telling anyone. About 2 hours into this walk we came to a place called the Movie and TV Attraction Center (or something like that). It was our destination. It started to rain a little again. This is a place that they have built to look like several different Chinese town locations. The do several TV shows here. Different then Hollywood sets these building were built of stone and wood and were permanent. We walked around for a while. Got a DVD made of us flying over China. Then we decided in order to see the rest of the place we would take a horse and carriage ride. It was great. I said I was not walking back to the city and we hailed a taxi, ($1.50) why walk. "We" decided that a good way to get around would be to hire Mr. Yun by the day ($30) and he could guide us and we could see more things. When we got back to the guesthouse we called Mr. Yun we had an appointment to go and meet the Direct of International exchange at the University of Dali
. Mr. Shi was very nice and we got a tour around the very modern campus. He told us that they were in great need of "Native American" speakers. This University is a combination of two schools. A teaching college and a medical college.
11-3-07.............Mr. Yun picks us up at 9am sharp and we are off for a day of adventure. I wanted to go and see the Butterfly Springs. I heard it was very interesting. About 30 minutes north of Dali we climbed the steps to the springs. It was nice but no butterflies. Then we past by several small ponds to a Butterfly exhibition with a fantastic display of mounted butterflies but no live ones. At the exhibit we came to a hall that use to have live butterflies but it was shut down. Then one of the attendants told us to keep going down this path. There it was a huge pavilion full of butterflies. Since it was cold and wet outside and warm and dry inside we stayed for a while. Then we decided to go a little further north and back to the lake to catch a boat to the islands. There are several islands on the lake. The one we were going to go to has a big hotel on it. It was a Palace at one time, the Nanzhou palace. The other island was not really an island any more because the people on the island decided it was to dangerous to have the children go back and forth to school by boat they built a road from the island to the mainland.
Marcia got off at the first island (it seemed you had a choice) we got off at the second. I had heard that the famous dance Miss. Ping had built a fantastic house on this other island. For 75 cents the two of us got a guide tour around the island. Which brings you right up to and round the houses of Miss. Ping and a famous artist. I mean right up to their living room windows. The houses were fantastic. The guide was real good and luckily I had Dawn to translate for me. On out return to the dock the guide treated us to some cactus fruit. I like this place and was curious how far it was to the airport and the city of Dali and Xinguan. I got the feeling it was not that far by car.
11-4-07.............Up for street breakfast and then the driver arrived at 9:30 as requested. We were going to go and see the three pagodas. This time I thought I would beat the steps. The driver was going to take us to the top. NOT. He took us to the top of the entry just beyond the Pavilion but that is where the Temples begin. Seven of them working their way up the mountain to a Pavilion on the top which over looks everything. Each temple was unique and beautiful. One is the largest Buddhist Temple in the work. At least according to the guidebook. Once to the top we worked our way down. Not to the taxi, we now had to go and see the Three Pagodas. So down the steps we go passing through a couple of more minor temples and a couple "commercial" structures and finally to the Three Pagodas. Then over to the reflection pool where you can see Six Pagodas. Then back up the stairs to the Taxi. Just where the taxi was parked was a Vegetarian Restaurant so we decided to try it out. It was designed like a big Bai, 3 house, home. It was very good. What to do next. So how the driver go the idea that I was looking for real estate. I had told him I was in real estate
. But got lost in translation. He said he had a uncle with some property for sale and would I like to see it. I said sure, we had just spent 5 hours climbing up and down a mountain one and half times. I said can we drive to it and was there any walking involved. He said we could drive right to it. I said let's go. Taking a number of little farm paths we made it down to the lake and the Uncles fishing house. The lake is at its highest level right now and the water was about 10 inches from the top of the retaining wall. But according to all present it never floods. There were several new homes going in around it. I said it was nice but a little small. It wasn't but what else could I say. I figured that was it and we would be heading back to the hotel. On the way to the main road the driver spotted someone he new and pick her up for a ride. I thought that was nice. It turned out that she new of a property for sale. So off we went back to the lake. After about 30 minutes of searching for the right road we came to a gate. Park the taxi and walked in. This place was huge and partially flooded. It was a peninsula resort. It was abandoned a couple of years ago and not finish. We later found out that is was on over 20 acres, but had just sold to a group from Taiwan for only $200,000. We got back in the car and the driver said lets go and talk to my Uncle maybe he knows someone else it was on the way back to the hotel. We meet his uncle and the uncle said he would sell me his lake front place for $25,000
. I told him that sounded good but I did not think so. He said the city was going to rebuild the pier there for boating and them since it was exempt from the government lease law I would own it out right. Something to think about. Away we finally heading back to the hotel
11-5-07..........Clear and sunny day. We called the driver and got a ride to the cable car to go up mount Crongshengsi. The ride took about 30 minutes. Then we decided to take the Jade Cloud Road, which is cut and built along the mountain. We wanted to go and see the seven pools of the dragon maidens. The path, not a road was reach by climbing over 500 steps. The path then wrapped along the Cliffside by many fantastic waterfalls and views of the lake far below. We were at an elevation of about 8000 feet. After about 4 miles we reach the Pool but that was another climb or rocks and steps. I got to pool one and decided to let the girls have there fun. It took then over 1 hour to climb to the last pool and back. We started out at 9 and got back down to the taxi at about 2:30. Then I was asked if I still wanted to see a village on the other side of the lake. I said sure. After all the driver didn't make the climb he slept. He did have a nice lunch waiting for us when we got back. Off we went to see the other side to the lake. After passing through a couple of villages I realize that the road ran right along the lake and that there was no lake frontage on this side of the lake
. We did see some interesting villages. I said I guess we might as well turn around. The driver said that he had a shorter way back to Dali. So we continued driving along the lake. The new railroad was being built it will go to Ligian and onto Europe. After a while I realized that we were going all the way around the lake. The road varied from paved to mess up paved (due to heavy equipment) to dirt to flooded dirt to WHERE DID THAT ROAD GO. We ended up at the place we had taken the boat to yesterday. The "Island" where the famous Bai dancer had her house and a guesthouse for her personal friends. After walking around the island, since Marcia did not go with us there we were off again around the top of the lake and back to Dali.
11-6-07................Today was a day of rest. Marcia went to visit some friends and Dawn wanted to go to the bookstore for some reading. That evening we got together and Marcia and I decided to go and get a massage. Marcia chooses the famous foot massage $5 for one hour. I was going the whole way. Full body Thai Therapeutic Massage for $10 for 70 minutes. It was fantastic. Back to the hotel for a good night sleep.
11-7-07...................We decided that we had now seen almost everything of importance in the area of Dali
. The driver came at 8:00am sharp. We had also figured out that he could drive us back to Kunming to catch our plane to Guilin for about half the price of the airline tickets. Plus a bonus would be that we would get a guided tour of all the scenic spots along the way. It was raining when we left, but as we went south the sun came out. Our first stop was to be some caves just off the expressway. We got off the expressway and started looking. The only problem was that everyway we went were new roads under construction. After a few stops for direction and as the old road turned into mud ponds I suggested that we move on to the next scenic stop. The next stop was the home base for the Flying Tigers. I remember my uncle telling me that he flew "The Hump" during World War II. So I thought this would be interesting. Plus I remembered the TV show "Black Sheep". At the "airbase" were a few old planes. One an original flying tiger being restored, one a Japanese zero, one a Chinese bi-plane and the last a Douglas trainer. We got a local guide to take us around. The road was aside the parking lot was "The Burma" road the lifeline for the Chinese during WWII. Out in the field was still part of the runway for the Tigers. Then across the road was the small village. This was historically a famous village because in ancient time it was a main stop on the Tea Horse Road. Right through the middle of this little village was where the road ran almost parallel to the Burma Road at this point. The two main attractions were the Horse Inn and the WWII Transportation museum
. The first is one of the oldest buildings in the state of Yunan. It is where the caravans would keep their horses, yes a stable. But not like any stable you have ever seen. It had all the workshops for maintaining the caravan. A block away was the Transportation museum. This was a very nice display honoring the Americans who helped the Chinese during WWII. The Americans flyers brought is all the supplies over the Himalayas for the war effort. According to the museum guide it was the act of these Americans that saved the Chinese people from falling completely under the control of the Japanese. It was really very nice. Since my uncle had been part of the effort they asked me to sign my name to a display there. We walked around the village a little more as Chinese tour buses started arriving to also see the museums. We decided we better get going. No more scenic spots Marcia wanted to take us to an Ethic Restaurant in Kunming before we left and we had to get there now. The restaurant was fantastic. More museum then restaurant. It was comprised of many small dining halls full of artifacts. As we sat there they were having a rehearsal for the evening performance. It was very interesting. We were also to meet the guy with the machine to swipe my credit card to pay for our airline ticket. He finally made it but his machine did not work. So we had to find a Bank of China, the only place you can exchange money, to get some cash. Now time was running short. Marcia the forever TOUR GUIDE was worried she believer that two hours a head to the airport meant just that. My experience in China was that one hour was enough but as it got to 1 hour and 40 minutes she began to panic. When we got the ticket from the "swipe" guy and got to the line at the check in counter Marcia told us to wait over there. She flashed her Tour Guide badge and went directly to the front of the line. Nice to have friends in high places. We got in fast and sat around for an hour as the other Chinese passengers slowly arrived. The flight was just over one hour. We had called ahead and had a driver waiting for us in Guilin. Best way to do it is to book a driver ahead of time. Lots of taxis there but we were going to Yangshuo 2 hours away. Another day.