Glimpses of Old City Dali, Yunnan Province, China

Barry and I traveled to Dali, Yunnan Province, home of many Chinese ethnic minorities; we found sunny blue skies, friendly colorful people, and interesting history.   Because we liked it so much, we got stuck there, staying longer than we had intended.

Sunset over the mountains outside Dali.  The tree is loaded with clementines.

Sunset over the mountains outside Dali. The tree in the neighboring yard is loaded with clementines.

We awoke to see snow on the mountain tops and warm sunshine.

Snow on the mountains, but warm temperatures in Dali.

Snow on the mountains, but warm temperatures in Dali.

The food was varied and good.

Our new friend Nature helped us find the Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant where we ate many times.

Our new friend Nature helped us find a vegetarian restaurant where we ate many times.

The Lovely Lotus Delicious Vegetarian Restaurant was a favorite.

We liked the selections - and the friendly staff.

We liked the selections – and the friendly staff.

Our friendly Muslim noodle man.

Our friendly Muslim noodle man.

Yummy!

Yummy freshly made noodles!

Restaurants of all kinds.

Restaurants of all kinds.

We loved walking the narrow streets of the Old City Dali.

Old City Dali

Old City Dali

The streets teemed with life.

The streets teem with life.

Catholics, Christians, and Buddhists have centers in Old City Dali.

Dali Christian Church

Dali Christian Church

Although this site is now strictly a cultural site, we heard chanting from other buildings, and the Buddhists provide free daily meals to those in need.

We went to the Three-Pagodas  one afternoon – and stayed so long that we had to climb over a fence in order to leave 🙂

Although this site is now strictly a cultural destination, we heard chanting from other buildings in Dali and learned  that the Buddhist community provides a  free daily meal to those in need.

A temple to Confucius.

A temple to Confucius.

The opening of a Belgium waffle shop involved chanted blessings (and free cigarettes and tea).

The opening of a Belgium waffle shop involved chanted blessings (and free cigarettes and tea).

The Dali residents dress in a variety of ways.

Some women in ethnic dress, some in modern clothes

Some women wear ethnic dress, some  modern clothes.

Colorful foreigners too.

Colorful foreigners are here too.

Old City Dali pedestrian street.

Old City Dali pedestrian street.

Many shopping choices line the Old City Dali streets.

Shopping choices.

Shopping choices

Farmers bring their produce to sell in the streets.

Farmers bring their produce to sell in the streets.

Beautiful vegetables.

Beautiful vegetables.

Peanuts, scarves?

Peanuts and scarves

Shoe repair shop on the street.

Shoe repair shop on the street.

Hair braiding/threading  shop.

Hair braiding/threading shop.

Dali is known for its beautiful stone.

Dali is known for its beautiful stone.

Shops in colorful, historic buildings.

Shops in colorful, historic buildings.

Stylish women's dresses.

Stylish women’s dresses.

Beautiful choices.

Beautiful choices.

Cafés, coffee bars, and restaurants line the walking streets.

Cafés too.

Cafés 

Varied restaurant experiences.

Varied restaurant experiences.

A good place for an afternoon coffee.

A good place for an afternoon coffee.

Cool doorways –

Old City Dali

Old City Dali

Some entrances are humble.

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Stately entrances

Some have stately entrances.

Some entrances are new.

Some entrances are more modern.

White walls, black tiles

White walls, black tiles

Walls of color too.

Walls of color too.

Beautiful gates and doors in Old City Dali.

Beautiful gates and doors in Old City Dali.

Some gates are hundreds of years old.

Some gates reflect ancient styles.

Beautiful windows too.

Beautiful windows.

Old stone walls.

Old stone walls.

Old City Dali gates:

Old City Dali gate.

Old City Dali gate.

North Gate

North Gate

Local women outside an Old City Dali gate.

Local women outside an Old City Dali gate.

Old City Dali offers entertainment of many types.

Games on the street.

Games on the street.

With the name Johnny Hawaii, we had to go see this "Paper Presentation".

Because his  name is Jonny Hawaii, we had to go see this “18th Performance with Paper Reading.”

Would Jonny Hawaii do a dramatic reading?  I was hopeful his presentation would  be in English.

Jonny in the foreground; Rachel read.

Jonny in the foreground; Rachel reading.

We were warned that Jonny’s  presentation would be loud.

Many of us held our ears because of the screeching that accompanied Jonny's performance.

Many of us held our ears because of the screeching that accompanied Jonny’s symbolic performance.

Innovative Education in Old City Dali:

We discovered “The Living School” when we met Joy, a teacher, and his students selling challa bread one afternoon in Dali.  Fourteen Dali families have joined together to “homeschool” their children.  Instead of the traditional Chinese school of long hours of memorization, these children study academics in the morning and then develop their own passions (music, art, crafts) during the afternoons.  The school   encourages innovation and hands-on learning.  The students learn to cook and garden and make mud bricks and develop new skills.

Lunch with The Living School students and Joy.

Lunch with The Living School students and Joy.

The school also invites  Couch Surfers to stay at the school and share their experiences.  One  evening I saw a program presented  by Eurate & Sam who have been traveling for 2 1/2 years – by bicycle! Coming overland from the Basque region of Spain, they are on their way to  New Zealand – and they have had many adventures.

Sam & Eunate, Couch Surfers, who have been bicycling from Basque region in Spain toward New Zealand.

Sam & Eunate explain how they handled the laws of Iraq that don’t permit touching between men and women.

Sam showing the bicycle route from Spain to Dali, China.

Sam showing the bicycle route from Spain to Dali, China.

The Living School kids, their teachers, and Eunate.

The Living School kids, their teachers, and Eunate.

Eunate says all you need to travel is a smile.  She says money causes trouble, so she and Sam have traded work for places to stay and food wherever they have gone.  I love their spirits and sense of adventure.

Joy and his students singing a thank you song for Sam & Eunate's presentation.

Joy and his students singing a thank you to Sam & Eunate.

Barry and I loved our stay in Old City Dali.  Our Dragonfly Hostel with its friendly staff, comfortable rooms, rooftop garden, and reading/music room became our home in Dali.

Our Dragonfly Hostel room.

A Dragonfly Hostel room.

Old City Dali - a mingling of the traditional and the new.

Old City Dali – a mingling of the traditional and the new.

Zaì jiàn, Renée

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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

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