Friday, August 9, 2013

One Day in Dali

With just one month gap since my last China trip, I took off on another cuti-cuti China trip to Yunnan province last month. As I've mentioned before at the beginning of the year, this year is gonna be my visit China year and Yunnan is one of the places that I wanted to visit. I can now proudly say that this travel resolution is mission-accomplished. =) I've definitely put my 2-year China visa to good use by visiting 17 cities within the past 1.5 years...Yangcheng, Suifenhe, Yanji, Pinghu, Moganshan, Huangshan, Nanjing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Beijing, Nanning, Guilin, Yangshuo, Dali, Lijiang, Shangri-la and Kunming. =)

14 July 2013 (Sunday): Penang - KL - Kunming (昆明) - Dali (大理)

Airasia had a sale when it launched its Kunming route last year but we only managed to grab the cheap tickets for one-way. We were hoping that there would be another sale later on but the price kept going up so we decided to go ahead and buy the tickets in May. Guess what, AA had a sale for its Kunming route 2 weeks after we bought the tickets, we could have saved RM200/ annoying! Anyway, our total flight cost for this trip was RM460/pax.

My travel buddies. =P Our 'interesting' itinerary for the first day...traveling by different modes of, metro, public bus, and!!

Arrived Kunming Changshui Airport at 4.55pm and we were still 25km away from the city. Being budget travelers, of course we chose the cheapest option. Took the Line 6 metro from the airport that goes directly to East Bus Station for 5 yuan/pax. The subway is still new so it's very clean and empty...a very pleasant 22 minutes ride. =) It would be so much easier to get into the city by metro when all the lines are completed in the future.

After getting off the metro at East Bus Station (东部汽车客运站), we took public bus no. 60 to Kunming Railway Station (昆明火车站). The bus was packed, no air-con, cost 2 yuan/pax and the journey took 1.5 hours. Luckily we managed to get a seat...that's when being kiasu is!! 

Learning from last trip's experience, I planned this trip with more flexibility and booked only 3 nights of hotel out of 10 nights. Initially, my plan was to find a hotel and spend a night in Kunming before taking a bus the next morning to Dali. I knew that there are overnight trains from Kunming to Dali but the tickets are usually sold out so I decided to plan for the safest option. However, instead of looking for a hotel, we decided to try our luck at the train station and after waiting for about half an hour, we managed to get 3 overnight train tickets that leaves at 9.58pm to Dali...woohoo!! 

The only tickets available for us was soft sleeper, the best-in-class coz it has 4 bunks in each private compartment. Our soft sleeper ticket costs 150 yuan/pax...slightly more expensive than the hard sleeper but that's the best we could get and we saved on one night of hotel. I was kinda excited to finally get to travel in a sleeper!! We were quite lucky that our 'roommate' was a quiet and clean university student traveling with his friends for summer break. We bumped into him again few days later in Shangri-la, tell me about coincidence...haha!! 

15 July 2013 (Monday): Mt Cangshan (苍山) - Erhai Lake (洱海- Dali Old Town (大理古城) 

After spending a night on the train, we finally arrived at our first destination-Dali at 4.50am. It was too early and there was no public bus to the city yet so we waited around the train station till 6.45am to catch bus no. 8 (1.5 yuan) to the West Gate in Dali old town. The bus ride took about 40 minutes and thanks to our kiasu skill again, we got to sit for the whole journey...haha!! =P 

Our hostel...Dali Lily Pad Inn. It's not located in the old town but it only takes 5 minutes to walk to Dali Old Town. There's no TV & air-con in the room but can't expect too much for the price of RM68 right? =P

There are basically only 3 things to see in Dali...Cangshan mountains (苍山), Erhai Lake (洱海) and Bai Minority (白族). I wasn't planning to go up the mountains but since we arrived Dali earlier, we decided to take the Gantong cable car (感通索道) to go up to the mountain. 

I didn't do any research on Mt Cangshan prior to the trip so we just followed the hostel's recommendation and paid 100yuan/pax for this trip. =P 

The weather was nice and cool...perfect for walking but it wasn't a clear day to take nice pics of the entire Dali valley from the mountain.

There's supposed to be a waterfall at that blue pond with clear water but we didn't have the luck to see disappointing. =P

Hiked for 15 minutes up a bunch of steep steps to get to this viewing point. What an unexpected!!

After spending about 2 hours 'chilling' on the mountain, we decided to go downhill to Dali old town to grab some lunch. Finally, a clearer view of the scenery and Erhai lake. 

Dali Old Town...kinda similar to West Street in Yangshuo and Lijiang old town but it's not as crowded here. After the last few trips to China, I'm starting to dislike crowd. If given a choice, I will never travel to China during peak season. The huge amount of Chinese tourists really spoils the charm of quaint places like this. =.= 

The weather was getting hot after lunch so we decided to go back to our hostel to rest before cycling to Erhai. All of us ended up passing out and slept for the entire afternoon. I got lazy when I woke up at 5pm so instead of cycling, we decided to take public bus no. 2 for 1.5yuan/pax to Caicun Pier (才村码头) to see Erhai lake. The scenery along the way was fields, blue skies, white clouds...that's why people say that Dali is a perfect place to relax. =)

Saw these 2 cute dogs playing in a shop as we were walking to the pier. Good life huh!

If it wasn't because of the scorching hot sun, I could sit here for hours enjoying the scenery. Initially I wanted to go to another small fishing village on the opposite of this pier called Shuanglang (双廊) which is a hidden gem to enjoy the tranquility of Erhai. But coz we were short of time and I read that there are construction of guesthouses going on everywhere in this village as it's getting more commercialized, I decided to give it a miss.

This is where you can enjoy the panoramic view of Erhai lake FOC. =) Pardon my lousy editing skill. I didn't know how to take panorama pics with SIL's camera. =P

The pier is actually pretty small and there were some locals fishing there so it wasn't easy getting this empty spot for my 'models' to take these pics without getting any other tourists into my!! =P

Some of you must be wondering where's my 'signature' jump shot. It's not that I didn't try...but this is what mom captured...hahaha!! I didn't even wanna try using timer coz it's impossible to stop the other Chinese tourists from walking right in front of my camera. =P

We didn't wait till sunset coz the last bus leaves at 7pm and the sun doesn't set till about 8pm. Last few shots before bidding goodbye to Erhai.

The South Gate of Dali old of the task location for China Rush 3. =P

Wu Hua Building (五花楼) lit up at night. These pics were taken before dad & I 'pokai' (literally) in this building. Dad tripped on the beams across the traditional doors in that building and as I tried to hold on to him, we both fell epicly on the streets with people surrounding and watching us (not helping)!! We decided to head back to the hostel after that and stopped by the bar street to get some ice along our way back.

The result of my epic fall on one knee. Luckily mom brought her knee guard so I wore it for the rest of the trip. =P I was afraid that both our 'injury' would affect the trip but fortunately, both of us had strong bones. Or else our trip would be totally screwed..haha!!

16 July 2013 (Tuesday): Dali (大理) - Lijiang (丽江)

Went up to the top floor of the hostel to take some pics of the three pagodas and the mountains before checking out from our hostel at 7.30am. 

The scenery along the way to Xiaguan train station. We were the first to get on the bus so we managed to secure our seats again...haha!! See how packed the bus was!! =P

Our 9.27am train to Lijiang. It's cheaper (34yuan/pax) and faster to travel by train as compared to bus to Lijiang from Dali. Since the journey was only 2.5 hours, they used the hard sleepers bunks as seats so that they could fit more passengers. As usual, I was watching shows on my ipad throughout the journey. =)

Sat on the left side of the train to enjoy the scenery of Erhai along the way. I'll continue blogging about Lijiang in the next post. Stay tuned! =P

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