Donglianghua @ Dali

Half way between Dali and Weishan is a little 800 year old Muslim village called Donglianghua. On my way back from Weishan I decided to catch the small green bus and make a stop at there. I've been exploring dusty, crumbling places for the past week; so I was surprised to see that this place was clean as a whistle and in pristine shape in general.


Weishan @ Dali

Weishan is another ancient village about 50km south of Dali, however easier to get to than say Yunnanyi. You can take the bus directly there and walk from the bus station right into old town. This place has taken a hit from tourism, if Dadgendan Dai is a 1 and Lijiang is 10, then this is at about 4 on the scale of tourist-exploitation. It's an interesting fit because all the streets are pretty stacked with touristy stuff however marketed extremely toward locals, it doesn't have the influence of the lao wai so much yet.

Many of the buildings are marked as historical sites which are open for you to walk in and explore. I talked to some of the people in these and they said they didn't live there, I'm not sure if they actually knew why they were there at all. There is also a tram that goes around the town carrying tourists as far as you want for 1 rmb, I rode this for 15 minutes and did almost a full circle but was surprised that half of the circuit felt very much like new town.

All in all this place was neat but I think it's in an awkward stage of its commercialization, from where it stands now it's only a matter of time before it's more in the Lijiang - Heshan category.


Yunnanyi @ Dali

Yunnanyi is a two thousand year old Bai minority village south east of Dali which isn't lacking historical importance. The name of the entire province was derived from the the name of this town, which in older times was an integral stop between the south and northwest of Yunnan on the Tea and Horse Road.

I spotted this place on the blog Travel Cathay, a great blog documenting less popular attractions in south china. On the blog post were written detailed directions on how to get there from Dali including connections at 3 different bus stations and a ride in a rickshaw. Knowing that few foreigners are interested enough to go through the trouble made me more determined try.


Xizhou Village @ Dali

Xizhou Village is an old Minority Bai town about 20km north of Dali Old Town. Conveniently it's a straight shot on the highway north making it easy to find on your own. Since I had been on buses for the past 4 days, I decided to switch gears today and rent a bike for the journey. I realized after I had the bike in my hands that it may have been 10-12 years since the last time I rode one, the first 20 minutes were a little dangerous.

The highway north from Dali old town takes you through some beautiful farm land with a large mountain ridge always visible in the west. When I arrived I managed to miss the main entrance somehow and ended up first noticing the old architecture of the village when I reached the back side of it all, from here I decided to just lock my bike to a street light and started exploring.


Banqiao Old Town @ Baoshan

Yesterday I made a plan that I would take the bus from Baoshan to Dali, however before doing so I would make a visit to Banqiao Old Town. This is a small attraction just north of the city, and used to be a important hub for trading along the Old Tea and Horse Road.

This morning I made my way over to the bus station at noon and purchased my ticket for the bus leaving at 3:50pm. Afterward I walked up to the taxi stand and asked how much to Banqiao, the guy I was negotiating with told me he wouldn't use meter and wanted to charge 50 rmb there and back to the station. This price sounded ridiculous to me so I walked out onto the road determined to find my own way.

I talked to a couple taxis on the side of the road and here I was getting even worse answers then at then taxi stand, everyone said 50 rmb one way. Rather then negotiating, the next cab that pulled up, I just told them to turn the meter on, go straight and then turn right on the main road going north. This was working quite well until we got about half of the way there, at this point he asked for the location and I thought it would be safe to tell him now. I was wrong, we argued for a couple minutes and then I gave the 10 rmb that had accumulated on the meter and got out of the cab in a pretty desolate area near the north edge of town.

No taxis were even driving on this road so I began to wonder if I should have gone with the first driver's price after all, however nearby there was a bus stop so I decided to go check it out. After a couple minutes I was able to match the Chinese characters I'd photoed from google with one of the stop names on the bust stop chart. Eventually bus no 5 pulled up and I paid my 1 rmb and got in. The audio announcements weren't the least bit understandable so I was a bit worried I might miss the Banqiao stop, to prevent a miss I tapped the lady in front of me on the shoulder. She was very interested to know why I was on this bus, and after asking me a series of questions she agreed to help me find the right stop.

Five minutes later she gave the cue and I followed her off the bus, as we walked down the street she explained that since I was unfamiliar with the area that she would help me get to Qinglong street and also to the ancient temple just up the road. She guided me around for the next thirty minutes, even helping to suggest which things I might want to take a photo of and paying a small rickshaw fee for me.

Entrance to Qinglong Street
Qinglong Street

Baoshan

After arriving at Baoshan I made a visit to Taibao Park on the very west side of town, there is a trail you can walk along here which takes you from a lake at city level to the park at the top of the hill. This whole trip I've seen see that the people around me are surprised to see a foreigner and sometimes are shocked enough they even say 'lao wai' out loud and point at me. This has happened at least a couple times a day during this trip, but never have I experienced anything like the 45 minute walk to the top of this hill, I heard the word 'lao wai' literally about 100 times as one by one I passed by people who looked absolutely shocked at the sight of me. By the time I got to the top of the hill the word 'lao wai' was beginning to cause my body to twitch.


Blowing smoke rings