I’m not very well versed in where the backpacker haunts are. Nor did I intend to head north from Kunming, but alas I heard there was a cooking class or two in Dali and that sounded like it was worth a quick jaunt to me. Turns out Dali has a rather well earned reputation as a tourist trap. It reminds me of Solvang in California, historic looking cobble stone streets overrun with cuteness and tandem bikes. There was even a dude who had hitched up a sheep to a cart to pull you around while he wore ethnic minority clothing. There are millions of people living outside the the confines of the walled in old city, but if I’m going to be in a large Chinese city, I’d prefer a warmer one.
The cooking classes did not work out. As I’m often discovering, things open and close rather quickly in China (even whole buildings!) So one of the cooking classes had disappeared/closed and the other was still on Chinese New Year’s/Spring Festival break. Shame really, Rice and Friends looked like it was going to be fun.
The highlights of my trip ended up being the random people I met. I got a chance to chat with my taxi driver in Kunming and the staff at the guest house I stayed at in Dali. Notably both women talked about how much they enjoyed watching the NBA. My taxi driver and I agreed that cities full of green plants and warm, spring like weather all year were the best kind. Meanwhile my guest house staff member and I chatted about her dreams of becoming a tour guide. She also told me that while my first day in the guest house was her first day in the job, she might quit in a few days because it wasn’t as laid back as she thought. Shh, not while the door to the main office is open!
I also enjoyed a bike ride out to Erhua Lake. I probably should’ve not cheapened out on the bike I got from the guest house though, which was threatening to kill me with its lackluster brakes. The bike ride was pleasant as it went through farms on both sides of the road and these old fashioned military looking trucks with produce and raw materials drove by pretty often. The lake itself was, well, a lake. I ended up at some wharf with boats out to an island and some slightly polluted walking paths around a garden. The journey was nicer than the end I suppose but it was nice to bike around.