So with my tooth back in its original place we went back again to the old town for second time in a few hours. And that rest of the day was spent having a first look at the streets of Dali.
The following day we decided that instead of visiting Dali, we would rent a bike and head to the nearby Erhai Lake. And so we did. We took a mountain bike and went outside the city. The first stop was visiting a pagoda which was near our hostel. We couldn't enter it so we went to the most iconic sight of Dali: the 3 pagodas complex. It is a quite big complex with a 3 pagodas and a temple inside, but the entrance ticket is really overpriced, so we just went around the complex and down to the main road to start heading towards the lake, admiring at the same time really nice views from the 3 pagodas and the mountains behind them.
Really, the bike ride around the lake is a really nice surprise after Dali and definitely one of the highlights of Yunnan. We went following the road that circumnavigates the lake, perfectly signposted, going through beautiful small traditional villages, stopping in small tiny Buddhist temples... and only seeing a couple of Chinese tourists riding electrical scooters and a few other bikers. It felt like paradise!
Once in Xizhou, we parked the bikes, went for a beer in the main square and then for a walk around the village and to visit the small temple. Xizhou is a really nice and traditional Chinese village with narrow streets, red lamps and stuff, but is quite in danger of becoming a mini Dali, as we could notice already quite a lot of souvenir shops, a Western restaurant and many Chinese tourists. Still, right now it remains a really nice place to visit.
Anyway, once in Dali we returned the bikes, and exhausted as we were, we went for a recovering foot massage. The one-hour massage felt like heaven after the long day, and after it there was only time to go back to the hostel, eat a bit, have a beer and go to bed.
And yes, Dali probably was a really nice city in the past in which to relax and so on, but now the only thing you see are shops, restaurants and Chinese tour groups walking like sheeps following their shepherd, who in this case is normally a Chinese woman dressed in traditional local clothes and wearing a speaker and a flag or similar in order not to lose the sheeps. Pathetic.
The rest of things to do in Dali were to sleep a bit and the following day to go back to the train station to take a train to Lijiang to spend a couple of days there before taking on the Tiger Leaping Gorge trekking. And actually, after Dali, we were not very excited about Lijiang, which according to the guide and the Internet is even more touristified. We will see in the next post!
If you are planning a visit to Dali, I would tell you to skip it and go straight to the Erhai Lake area, but don't forget our Travel Guide!