Backstory: Cathy had misheard where we were going and had told all her friends that she was going to Bali, so it was a slight shock when we told her that Dali is not, in fact, a beach paradise, but a small backpacking town in southern China. Oops :)
Before we even arrived in the town, we experienced some of the hilarious things that make traveling in China glorious.
1. We had purchased tickets for seats on the train to Dali. However, once we got to our cabin, we discovered our "seats" were actually 4 people crammed in each of the bottom bunks in a sleeper car! Surprise! These pictures epitomize our responses:
|Adam: DIC (Dude, It's China); Herman: this is hilarious!|
|Alison: I'll scoot closer to Cathy so I don't touch the random person next to me; Cathy: WTF?!|
2. We were harassed by an extremely determined taxi driver. She tried to negotiate with Adam before we went to the bathroom (ignoring his "buyao" - don't want) and was still hounding him when we came out 5 minutes later. As we walked to a different part of the station and ignored her advances, she followed! It was all we could do to keep from laughing hysterically!
3. We waited in line to purchase return train tickets to Lijiang; Adam and I practiced our Chinese phrases and were generally prepared...until the tickets we bought had a car but no seats. The woman was trying to tell us something and we just continued to say the train time we wanted because, really, neither of us had a clue as to what she was saying. Turned out that she was saying we did not have assigned seats and would probably have to stand up the whole ride. Awesome.
The sun was out and we enjoyed a long lunch outside in old town. That's where we met our "special friend," an American from South Carolina (with a midwest accent) who tried to sabotage our lunch. As soon as we sat down and started talking, this tall, gangly guy RAN out of the restaurant to sit by us, and kept interjecting into our conversation. It would have only been mildly annoying had he not had a horrible habit of speaking for 5 minutes straight, ending each sentence with "Awesome, OH YEAH" (like a song, it had different notes). We tried our best not to look at or encourage the conversation, but we couldn't stop the flow of "Awesome, OH YEAH"s. Once his food came, he finally stopped talking, but the damage was done: for the rest of the trip, one of us would randomly say "Awesome, OH YEAH" in conversation, and we'd all burst out laughing. (Side note: We drove past him when we were back in Lijiang and he was walking on the side of the freeway!! All four of us died laughing).
After lunch, we ate the best ice cream in China (homemade!) and walked through a local market. We knew it was not for tourists because we passed three different dentists,
women carrying basket/backpacks to fill with purchased goods,
and a man with a tree on his back.
We then decided to go to our hotel, which was located in a neighboring village, Xizhou. We had to get in and out of a few cabs before finding someone who would take us (foreshadowing: remember this), and headed off. We drove past the signature Three Pagodas, and I pulled out my camera just in time, saving us a trip from visiting them later. (Have I mentioned that Adam and I think all pagodas and temples look the same after a while?)
Upon arriving at the hotel, Herman noticed that his front 2 pockets of his backpack were unzipped...and his Blackberry was missing!!! It was nowhere to be found. After he canceled the number (gotta love skype), we debated as to whether it was stolen in the market or left in Lijiang. The conclusion: it fell out in the 1st cab we tried to take, when his bag got caught on something in the trunk.
To add to the drama, it started raining, so instead of biking along the lake, we read (well, Cathy and I read while Adam and Herman napped) all afternoon/evening.
hotel; this is what it looked like from the outside (taken the following day, post-rain):