Same shit, different town.
Trip Start Apr 04, 2004
34Trip End Jun 07, 2004
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11th April 2004
I am currently on the 09.19 train to Dali. With Robbie and Jim. Irish Mick has given me the low down on Dali ( and Tibet. ) Following his helpful information, and contrary to the forceful suggestions of taxi touts, we take the number 8 public bus from Xiaguan railway station. It conveys us to 'old Dali ' - a small grid like town positioned between Erhai ( ear-shaped ) lake and the Cangshan mountains. This, at last, is the start of the mighty Himalayas.
I am at once taken by Dali, the vast city gates on the four points of the compass and its perimeter wall. Inside are wide stone streets with channels at either kerb in which clean water is flowing
We check into the well known Number 5 Guesthouse with lots of 'assistance' from well-meaning locals ( stay here long enough and you'll be disparagingly calling them commission hungry peasants ) There's a nice beer garden with timber decking and clean ornamental ponds containing real fish. This strikes me as an interesting concept and unusual for China. With its plastic waving cats and inflatable panda bears. The dorm room resembles a beach hut in Thailand. Lined inside with that compressed interwoven bamboo material. And the hostel signage is in typically amusing Chinglish.
We walk along 'foreigner street' and have some beers with our meal at ( wait for it.. ) the Marley Bar, in Jamaican flag livery. It looks like Dali has been on the travellers map for some time. Inside, there's your typical international group of backpackers from Tel Aviv to Tierra del Fuego. I enjoy it of course, but I am beginning to feel like I've seen this place so many times before. I keep hearing the local hill-tribe ladies whispering something as I walk past them. " Mister, you wan' good smo ? " But despite their well rehearsed sales pitch, what they are selling is a bag of dry leaves mainly.
Next ; Space Café