Our Yunnan tour started from Kunming, with Dali as first stop. This was on 18 September 2012. Dali is a major city in Yunnan, situated at a cross road that is 4 hours drive to the west of Kunming. From there, the famous tourist town of Lijiang is a couple of hours drive towards the north. Towns along the Burmese border are also couple of hours drive away, though in the south direction.
Dali used to be the capital of Yunnan. Part of the ancient city wall is still standing. It was also the capital of ancient kingdom, that was decimated by Kublai Khan in 13th century. The Mongol army entered Yunnan and then turned north onto the unsuspecting Southern Song dynasty. Thus, it was the Mongols under the Yuan dynasty that actually brought large part of Yunnan as Chinese territory. The famous Chinese wuxia writer Jin Yong use the royal family members of the ancient Dali kingdom as main characters of his novels.
The main ethnic in Dali is the Bai people. They are friendly people, are nowadays almost indistinguishable from the Han people. I wish that I stayed long enough in Dali, and find out more about the place and the friendly Bai people. With organised tour, it was just impossible. Hopefully, I could get back again, and spend more time in this interesting place.
- We stayed in a hotel that is about a kilometre away from the ancient city gate. There are also numerous small inns within the old city that visitors can stay.
- Taxi ride would cost about 8 yuan. We decided to take a horse cart ride to the old city. It was quite an enjoyable ride. It cost about 10 yuan per person.
- In the old city, there are many old lanes that visitors can explores, besides the main areas.
- The tour guide advised us against venturing into the old town on our own in the evening, but we went out nevertheless. It turned out to be a pleasant stroll. The main streets were lined with all kind of shops and teaming with travellers and residents. We never feel uncomfortable or feared for our safety. The guide probably had older couple in mind when giving such warning advice. There were also many Western travellers in the many cafe and bars found along main streets.