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Dali in Yunnan Province

I travelled to Yunnan Province in China's Southwest for 3 weeks last summer when the rest of the country was almost burnt under the scorching sun. This highland province was, however, like a huge naturally air-conditioned room, thanks to its high altitude. The best thing about it is that you don't have to choose between air-conditioning and beautiful sunshine. You can have both. As most of the province is over 2,000 meters above sea level, you will find the sky bluer here and the white clouds closer to you than ever.

I travelled to Yunnan Province in China’s Southwest for 3 weeks last summer when the rest of the country was almost burnt under the scorching sun. This highland province was, however, like a huge naturally air-conditioned room, thanks to its high altitude. The best thing about it is that you don’t have to choose between air-conditioning and beautiful sunshine. You can have both. As most of the province is over 2,000 meters above sea level, you will find the sky bluer here and the white clouds closer to you than ever.

A 3.5-hour flight took me from Beijing to Kunming, the province’s capital city. I stayed in Kunming International Youth Hostel (which was not up to a Youth Hostel standard at all and you may want to avoid staying there at any rate) overnight and took a slow train to Dali the next morning. The trip from Kunming to Dali took me 7 hours, twice the time I spent on my trip from Beijing to Kunming. Van was also available and it was even faster than train (4-5 hours only)! Hard to believe, huh?

Dali was the capital of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) Nanzhao Kingdom and Song Dynasty (960-1279) Dali Kingdom. It has been the gateway to cultural, commercial and trade exchanges between China, South-eastern Asian countries and South Asian countries for millennia. Today’s Dali consists of a new town and an old town, which are separated from each other by a distance of 14 kilometers. There was nothing special about the new town and I took a taxi to the old town directly after getting off the train. You are most likely to be taken to the new town if you go there from Kunming by train or by van. So you will have to transfer to a bus or a taxi to go to the old town.

The old town was very nice, especially in summer. It was situated at the foot of the Cangshan Mountains and there is a big lake called Erhai within biking distance. I spent my second day wandering in the town, looking around historical relics, visiting souvenir shops and enjoying local food and the third day biking to Erhai with three guys I got to know in MCA Hotel (the best hotel in Dali and highly recommended).

Yunnan is very famous for its rice noodles, so don’t miss the chance to give it a try in Dali. Erhai was heavy polluted, to my great sadness. But still we managed to rent a bike and rode there. We then took the boat of a local fisherman and went to the centre of the lake. The water was much cleaner there and the views were stunning!

I wished I could stay longer in Dali, but I was on the road again on my fourth day since I’d got a number of other places to visit. I got to know a French guy who came up north to China from Thailand on my way to Lijiang. He’s very interesting and we spent the following 10 days together, traveling to various parts of the province. Beautiful memories!

http://www.achinatravel.com/china-travel/china-yunnan.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dali,_Yunnan_province

written by saviorjosh

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