Kunming can be called the modern gateway to Yunnan. The city which is also the capital of the province (state) of the country is one of the more industrialized cities in the east. The city has the fast pace and mayhem of any modern city though probably the look and feel of the city is not as perfect as Beijing and Shanghai, arguably enough. Nevertheless, the infrastructure in the city is as good as an advanced emerging country, for want of a better term.
Dali is a much lesser commercialised city and is quite picturesque. This is also reflected in the transition as you start approaching Dali. One other highlight – the people of Dali. As is typical of most people who are not yet “scandalised” by the commercialism of big cities, they are fun loving, simple, friendly people who are quite welcoming to tourists.
Read on for more fun!
Kunming city just as we are landing into the airport – the first impressions of China (wow, nice infrastructure!) And this impression got only further cemented as we spend the next 10 days there
Getting to Kunming…
We took an afternoon flight to Kunming where the guide picked us up. Transfer to the hotel by private car (recommended) and relax away the evening.
Since it was the first trip to a more interior China city, we were quite pleasantly surprised to see that the capital of an eastern province (Yunnan, duh of course!) was actually quite developed and looked quite like a planned city from the aerial view. The expressways like in this picture were a delight to see, that how China actually has come a long way and infrastructure even in a so called tier 2 city is quite good.
The airport was just completed a few months back (as was told by the guide) and it did look quite well done. Resembled a good medium size city’s airport in terms of passengers traffic, but the design and shine in the airport was quite remarkable.
Kunming International Airport’s arrival hall
We were told by the guide that since it is a city, it is best not to venture out late by ourselves, so we preferred to stay indoors and enjoy the hotel.
One can actually go to Stone Hedge Forest in Kunming which is quite popular tourist destination. We didn’t go there due to time and also we didn’t “feel” like. So that’s it… 🙂 Off for a bus to Dali.
The well built expressway enroute to Dali, a tier 3 city in Yunnan and to the right is the bus stand and where we took the bus – would add that it was not all that clean (especially the washrooms)
Stayed at Fairyland hotel, not the best and just about ok, for us.
Dali – best known for the Erhai lake, Three Pagodas and Mount Cangshan. All of them were worth it and the Three Pagodas also helps fulfill the history loving people with some heavy dosages of history and color behind the structures.
Streets of Old Town of Dali
Something very typical of an old town thing, and something I really loved about the whole trip of Yunnan. Here, the young and old, all get together in evenings to dance in a coordinated way on the streets to music being played there. Now, how many times do you see that in cities. Ah, pleasures of the small cities and towns!
Just next to our hotel was the Foreigner’s street. Well, though the name suggests what it does, it is basically a street made for tourists and is lined with shops (25-40% bargaining suggested!!!) as well as restaurants (of course no bargaining here). A lot of restaurants/bar serve Western and continental food which was good while one of them had Indian food as well, which we thought was average. Chinese food is of course available there, and it was good.
Foreigner Street: The path in between is not as narrow as it looks here. The feel is not claustrophobic at all
The theory of six doors: Number six is lucky number for Chinese because it’s a homonym for smooth going or moving without any obstacle. Notice the six doors below which was actually the case for many many shops and even homes.
Hotel in Dali – Landscape Hotel
The hotel was actually a home of a rich Chinese native there. Many hotels in Dali old town are actually erstwhile homes. Above are the meeting/discussion or library rooms of houses which are now empty but are well maintained as model rooms to preserve and showcase the culture of the region.
The ErHai Lake is quite a big lake and a very popular tourist destination. While the in-water plants in the lake make it look bit dirty, actually the fact that plants are able to grow shows it actually would be clean. Also, the mix of water sparkled by the sun, plants underwater, and mountains giving the excellent backdrop to the lake.
The cable car that takes from the Dali- Cangshan mountain point to the other side of the mountain presents an excellent view of the city. It was actually interesting to see that the cable car system advertised that the entire equipment was Made in Austria. Nevertheless the cable car is actually quite high and steep so its maintenance would definitely need to be top notch.
On the other side of the cable car system is a small waterfall, some shops etc. The waterfall ultimately becomes a small stream that supplies clean spring water to the Dali city.
Below are some snapshots around the Mount Cangshan…
Apart from these, there is some “natural” wildlife, that can be found, although do see that the word natural is in double quotes.
Lastly, to leave you with the overview of Dali city – literally! This is how it looks, from up there 🙂
With this, we conclude our Dali trip and drive on to Lijiang, one of the key highlights of this trip!