Thursday, February 24, 2011


**I was on the treadmill yesterday, spotted the hairdressers, and almost fell down. They looked like they were doing a mix between the Macarena and Dovid Melech Yisrael. Then they proceeded to chant, military style, and march in place in a square formation. Only in China!

Anyway, back to Dali! We woke up leisurely, had a leisurely breakfast (including a dense mini pancake), and began a leisurely bike ride to the morning market. And that's where the craziness began. We rode past the town square,
entered a narrow street appropriately named "Walking Street" (we followed those directions and hopped off the bikes), full of shops and tons of people with basket/backpacks, bought freshly ground spicy chillies from one of the street stalls,
This contraption ground the whole chillies (left) into the flakes we bought.
and then hit the jackpot: the morning market.
Herman and Adam watched the bikes while Cathy and I walked around the vegetables, carefully avoiding the meat section. Of course, when we switched, Adam and Herman took my camera directly there (and to the fish section...ew) and took some pretty gruesome pictures. (please skip the next section if you have a heart. I obviously don't).

WARNING: disgusting pigs ahead.

They also passed a store that used a machine to squeeze vegetables and catch the oil in big pans. A much better find than the meat market!
After they returned to us satisfied with pictures and a video of the fish market we were able to resume the leisurely pace of the morning. We rode along fields of tea (we think),
and after stopping for a "western toilet" break at the hotel, continued on to Er Hai Lake.
The lake is massive and is known for cormorant fishing (fishermen tie something around a cormorant bird's neck so it cannot swallow large fish and then train the birds to spit out the fish that they catch), though it was quiet and deserted when we got there.

Along our ride, we passed women picking crops (the men were MIA),
and a randomly located and slightly hidden pagoda.
Of course, I also took several of my favorite type--reflection--pictures:
We then dropped off the bikes and returned to the village to find a place for lunch and buy fruit at the market. Strangely enough, it was almost empty, only a few hours later! We did happen upon some kids playing the carnival game where you throw a ring around a cup and win a fish. Have I mentioned that Adam is actually a little kid (mostly when it comes to candy!)? He played and won a fish!
If we were in Beijing, it would undoubtedly be on display in our apartment, but [un]fortunately, China has the same liquid-on-planes law that the U.S. has, and 3oz is just not enough water for a goldfish. Thus, he was forced to relinquish his prize to a kid. He chose the fat one :)

We suddenly heard drums beating and looked up to a parade! Men were carrying massive wreaths,
women had blankets and sheets, all wearing the same head wrapping,
and others were making music.
We were so excited! Was it a parade? A festival? A ceremony? Nope! As the procession continued, we realized that we had been excitedly photographing...
...a funeral. Awkward.

Cue embarrassed foreigners putting cameras away and returning to the hotel to gather our belongings and head to the train station.

Adam and I tried to exchange the tickets for actual seats, to no avail. We did, however, figure out that there were apparently no seats on the train, so we wouldn't be alone. After waiting in line a la Black Friday at Walmart with some very determined Chinese (future post: dealing with transportation in this country), we basically ran to our car to try and grab the first available seats. Turned out that it was exactly the same as the way TO Dali--sitting on beds in sleeper cars! We sat with a nice lady who then excused herself to sit elsewhere, so we ended up having the whole place to ourselves! A few train adventures worthy of note:

1. A woman passed by our open door several times before stopping and chatting it up. I managed to understand every 10th word or so (and knew contextually, she was interested in knowing more about us), so we managed to have a whole conversation, completely in Chinese!! She then proceeded to explain our presence to a group of people right outside our door. Hilarious.

2. 1.5 hours into the 3 hour ride, we stopped and everyone started pushing their way out of the train. We barely looked up, as we just knew we hadn't arrived...until I asked and apparently we were already in Lijiang! Surprise!

3. We found a cab in the madness at the train station, and the driver was downright jolly to be taking us. He walked taller with a noticeable spring in his step as he led us to his...truck. He went to open the back (as in we'd be sitting in the covered flatbed), and all 4 of us immediately said "oh no, no thanks, sorry." Haha poor thing had no idea what hit him!

and that, my friends, is what we call an adventure!

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