From Dali to Lijiang

On our second day in Dali we had planned to go cycling to the lake but the weather was not very pleasant. We holed up in a cute and cosy cafe for a late breakfast and ended up staying for most of the afternoon! That night we went to a couple of bars and found ourselves at the Bad Monkey, where we met another British couple who had tought in Shanghai for most of the year. There we swapped stories until 3 before calling it a night.

On our last day in Dali we hired some swish bikes and cycled north, stopping first at the three pagodas which was jam packed with Chinese tourists saw we took photos from a distance and moved on.

Then we pushed over an hour north to some cute villages near the shore of the Ear Lake. We cycled through a market town and then went on to a small Bai minority village that didn't appear to see many tourists. It was very interesting to see the mostly elderly townfolk going about their daily tasks, with the women wearing the traditional minority dress. We rode back through some inclement weather, with our backsides complaining due to the awkwardly shaped bicycle seats.

Then we grabbed the bus on to Lijiang, a three hour ride through some interesting terrain to an even more touristy town. Lijiang was once the capital of the kingdom of the Naxi minority people but has recently been redesigned from the ground up to be a tourist wallet swallowing machine. Most of the Naxi people have now moved out of the town but everywhere you look people advertise having authentic Naxi food and accomodation. Nevertheless, the town is very cute with narrow alleyways snaking around between Naxi style houses, where many rooms sit around a central courtyard.

We arrived in Lijiang late in the evening and grabbed a hostel before strolling around the market stalls. The next day we had a better look around the town, scaling the small hill behind the old town which provided excellent views of the Naxi architecture. In the evening we viewed a performance by the Naxi Orchestra, a 20 piece ensemble playing traditional Chinese instruments. About six of the orchestra members are over eighty years old, and some of the instruments were even older. Some of the instruments were secretly buried during the Cultural Revolution to avoid them being destroyed, and the music performed links back to previous dynasties as well as Naxi tradition. The performance was very interesting although the ninety minutes were padded out with too many speeches.

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