Dali old town seems to be widely acknowledged as "Backpackers' Paradise" in China. Foreign visitors like to stay in Dali ancient city. Some backpakers of them live there for months or even years, to observe and study the fascinating culture of Bai nationality. In the so - called " Yangren Street (foreigner's street) " in the heart of ancient city where is always full of foreign visitors, there are several dozens of cafes, western style restaurants, and clothes shops offering services to foreign guests.
Fondest memory: I found the foreigner street to be a sort of quiter and above all more clean version of Bangkok Kao San road.
For our Dutch and Belgian friends: Brussels' Waffels!
Dali heeft de eerste echte Brusselse Wafels. ' De Hoop' gaat van start in 2008, maar draait al proef. En de wafles vallen in de smaak bij de chinezen. Ze zijn in verhouding duur: 10 Rmb. Maar, zoals Jan zei, 'ik verkoop niet aan alle chinezen, alleen aan de chinezen die het kunnen betalen om hier als tourist te komen. En dan kan je deze prijs gemakkelijk betalen.'
Address: Renmin Lu 241, Dali Old Town 671003 (the other end of the street with the Tibet cafe; in the direction of the Catholic Church) Tel: 159-72068604
Fondest memory: We had a nice long chat with this enterpreneur: leaving Belgium and starting anew at an age where most of us would consider retyring. His Chinese wife is learning Dutch and he just talks Dutch to the Chinese. Through body language and tone of voice the message comes across.
He can tell you some interesting tips and details about Dali and environment. If you go and visit him, please say hello from Jan Lelie, the family that ordered one waffle and wanted it in four parts: like the chinese.
He said that the climate here was the most important reason for him to come Dali: not too hot and not too cold.
Favorite thing: Dali has a few choices when it comes to the local brew. I drank them all but have trouble remembering all the names. There's Lan cang and Geng Hua Xue Yue (English name is Rose Love) beer. And then there was some rose flavored beer. It was a little too aromatic for my taste. Anyhoo, they are all worth trying.
Yunnan is famous for its exotic vegetation, medicinal herbs, and tobacco. You'll see a lot of stands selling Yunnan cigarettes. Beware some of it real, others are fake. How do you tell? I don't know cause I am not a smoker.
I bought a pack of Red Pagoda Mountain (Hong Ta Shan) brand for my boyfriend who is also not a smoker to try. He said it was really strong.
I'm just back from a short trip round Yunnan which included Dali Old City. Old? Nothing I saw inside the walls pre-dated about 1950, apart from some relics in the museum (5Y I think, worth it).
The bus to the three pagodas costs .5 Y (5 jiao); entrance to the three pagodas complex was 52Y. The new temple behind, Ching Sheng, is completely artificial.
The bus (no. 4) to Dali New City (Xia Guan) costs 1Y.
Dali Old City, particularly "Foreigners Street" (Huguo Lu) is like West Street Yangshuo writ large. Don't bother.
Fondest memory: For "western breakfast" I ordered muesli with fruit in yoghurt, and a cheese omelette. It all came on the same plate!
Fondest memory: Couldn't sleep, I woke up early and hope to pick up some breakfast in the town. Itwas 8am in the morning, and I was surprised that people in this town came out quite late. As you can see, only a few locals walking on the streets, and most shops did not opened yet, even breakfast place! But then, this is another feel of the quiet side of Dali.
Fondest memory: Now, I take out my LP book, very last minute. But it didn't help. Checked out some places recommended, there're either full; dirty/smelly; or out of budget. As when I was terribly hungry and tired, I walked pass this Jim's Peace Cafe, asked if they have room available. It was Jim himself talking to me. At first he said no, then when he looked at my desperate look and keep asking if he know any place to where I can stay, I think he realized by Chinese not very local. He asked: where're you from? I said from Hong Kong. Then he showed me the room. I must say, the dorm was empty with only one Japanese girl staying there. He said he rent his place local mainland Chinese before, and the place got robbed, and it just happened the day before another hostels' guests were robbed inside the room.
Fondest memory: Arriving Xia-Kuan at night (I think it's around 7/8pm). Without reading my LP in advance, the only thing I knew was that I want to stay in Dali old town, where's all the backpackers' hostels located. I asked around, and the last shuttle bus was gone, so, I took a taxi there. It took me about 30 mins, forgot how much I paid, but not that expensive as I remembered.
Fondest memory: I took a mini bus, left Kunming at 4pm (delayed one hour), arriving Dali new town (this place is called Xia-Kuan) at around 8pm. The woman stting next to me was nice, offered me mandarin (orange), sweets, biscuits and nuts. The road was very bumpy, she actually felt car-sick thus keep eating, and keep offering me her food. I also offered her my car-sick pill which she rejected at first, but finally have to swallow one. There're 2 more people vomiting behind me in the bus, I gave away 3 pills in total.
You need no prior preparation if you go in November, which is not a peak season for tourist.
The weather is a bit cold (5C at night), so wear enough not to be held down by a fever.
Just get to the old town. Then everything is accessible on foot.
Accommodation costs as little as 15 yuan per night, and is not difficult to find. (recommended : Bird's Nest on Ren Min Lu)
There are plenty of restaurants. In my opinion, all serve very good food.
Fondest memory: The clear blue sky and the good food and the leisurely pace of life.
The Yunnan coffee is a must-try. And so is the farmer's dishes. Try the various types of fungi.
Favorite thing: In the evening the noice of the streets calms down, the air is mild and there is a peaceful atmosphere in Dali. Cars cannot drive through the narrow streets. Modern life seems to be far away in this quite eveenings.
This one was at the top end of the "Three Pagodas" complex.
I think they were intending to make it a big tourist attraction, because this huge temple was being constructed at the end of a wide and long pathway behind the pagodas, on a natural elevation with a great view.
I could hear the sound of hammers and electric saws from inside the temple. It was an intriguing sensation: temples always seem to be so old, they look like they've been there for ever. It is difficult to imagine that all of them were built from scratch once.
I managed to get inside (I used the back door), where everything looked and smelled pristine.
In Dali at the guesthouse we were staying was a great happening. First I didn't quite understand what is was all about, but that didn't take long. After a short while everyone in the guesthouse was talking about it; the guesthouse was to open the first western toilet in Dali! It was a wonderful party with good food and drinks, quite an experience!
I sadly didn't take a photo of this beautiful toilet.
Favorite thing: I've have never seen an ATM that exchanges currency into RMB from inserting US$ or HK$. I found this at the Asia Star Hotel.
Favorite thing: Some of the old temples have been converted into schools. At least there are schools everywhere even in the smallest villages.