By the time we finished our horse-trekking adventure, our time in China felt like it was beginning to draw to a close. At first, our 30 day visa seemed like an endless amount of time to explore (this was the first time i'd been on a backpacking trip..) After spending two weeks in the Sichuan province alone, we found ourselves with only eight days left before we had to leave China. Eight days didn't seem nearly long enough to explore our final destination, Yunnan. However, we were determined to maximise our time.
Given our increasingly limited amount of time, we decided to forgo the long train journey - as we calculated it would take us the best part of two days to get to Dali. So, we found a last minute flight from Chendgu. As this was the night after we finished our horse-trek, when we arrived in Dali noon the next day, we were thoroughly exhausted and bedraggled.
Despite our exhaustion, the spectacular scenery of Dali instantly raised our spirits. We arrived at the lovely Dragonfly Guesthouse, which was recommended to us way back at the start of our trip in Japan. By this time, we only had one thing in mind, an afternoon nap. I ventured onto the hotel roof where I discovered a row of hammocks overlooking the pagodas and mountains surrounding Dali.
The Dali positivity continued post-nap, when Ben and I explored the charming streets of old-town Dali. All the buildings are Bai-style, white washed walls with intricate artwork and details. The area is also well know for its tie-dye and batik industry, so there are many beautiful tapestries for sale along the streets adding to the arty feel of the place. Here I couldn't resist picking up another souvenir to go with my Tibetan hip flask; a lovely piece of Dalian Batik fabric.
During our first night in Dragonfly, we met Lucas and Juliana from Austria, who we spent the next seven days travelling with. On our first day together, we hired some vibrantly decorated electric scooters and drove along a section of the Erhai scenic route, exploring the Bai villages and admiring Dali's mesmerising centre-peice, the Erhai lake. If I find myself in Dali again, I would love to do the two-day journey around the entirety of the lake.
During the second day we decided to take a look at Dali from a vantage point, up the Cangshan mountain. We went the lazy route, up the chair lift, and were treated to this view for the entirety of our 3 hour walk along the mountain face. This walk was mostly flat, so not too strenuous.
Dali was so different to anywhere else we had been in China, really exemplifying the incredible diversity of this amazing country. A beautiful, tranquil town at the foot of the Himalayas.