All around Dali... Markets, Spiders, Cormorant Fishing, Cangshan Mountain... slippery when wet.

On the 20th we were headed to Dali, in China’s Yunnan Province. Dali is a 40 minute flight from Kunming, and a roughly eight hour bus ride from Lijiang, both of which I visited in 2006. Yunnan is one of China’s most heavily minority populated provinces, and has significant representation from almost 30 different minority groups. As such, it has a very diverse and complicated history. Dali itself is the ancient capital of both the Bai kingdom Nanzhao, which flourished in the area during the 8th and 9th centuries, and the Kingdom of Dali, which reigned from 937-1253. Dali was also the center of the Panthay Rebellion from 1856-1863.

Today we rode bikes like mad all over the Liwan district north of the Pearl River. First we boarded the ferry for a quick ride to the north side of the Pearl River, along with all the fishermen and such. The ferry dropped us at the fish market from which it was only a short bike ride to Shamian Island. Shamian Island was originally a concession granted to France and the United Kingdom by the Qing Dynasty government in the 19th century. More recently it's become the place to go for Chinese couples to get married and Western couples to seek adoption of Chinese babies, most of whom are orphaned and female.

Not much time to do anything this morning, as we needed to get our gear together and make it to the train station by around 11AM, for our overnight trip to Guangzhou. Chinese trains have up to five classes of seating on an overnighter. Hard seats & soft seats which are exactly like they sound, soft seats being more expensive of course. Hard sleepers are open compartments with six bunks and no bedding. Soft sleepers are doored compartments with four bunks and bedding is provided. Deluxe soft sleepers are doored compartments for two people. We went soft sleeper.

The Air China flight was pretty dismal. I was looking forward to riding on Air China because I despise flying United internationally. As mentioned before, international flights seem to be treated as a seniority gig for United. It’s the landing place for the most unfriendly, geriatric and overweight of flight attendants. Since I usually sit on an aisle I’m constantly subject to being jarred as they try to sidestep their bulk down the aisle, then receive the evil eye if they don’t think I accommodated them enough or as they refuse my request for a ‘double’.