Dali, China

The Surrealist China of Dali

watching life go by
Lady Bai contemplates street life from inside a house with a lush traditional gate.
from there the little ones
Visitors enjoy a giant game built on the slopes of Cangshan Mountain, above Dali.
a lake view
Eccentric scenery of Great Lake Erhai.
Ember dryer
Boy resorts to a creative way of pulling the coals.
Sino Catholicism
Detail of the Catholic church in Dali, built in 1927, severely damaged during the Cultural Revolution and restored as a Historic Landmark in 1984.
Christ Dali version
Facade behind the altar of the Catholic church in Dali.
a generation behind
A mother of Bai ethnicity carries a baby who is curious about the attention of outsiders.
Students at Dali's school walk along a walled city street when they leave classes.
outside roofs
Traditional houses of Dali, between the city walls.
chinese tournament
Animation around a mahjong table in a street in the old town of Dali.
almost night in Yunnan
View of a street in the historic center of Dali at dusk.
JR Ewing Fashion
A dressed man with a Texan look at a market outside the city.
colors of the past
Watchtower and defense based on one of the entrance portals to the city.
bridal poses
Matchmaking photo session on one of the adarves of the old walls of Dali.
natural appetizers
Grilled insect and larva kebabs for sale on the street.
A few touches from China
Football skills in a square in Dali.
golden tower
One of the three pagodas at the Chongsheng temple on the outskirts of Dali.
Hungry trio
Young friends share irreverent fringes and street snacks.
monday again
Couple starts their day in their picturesque restaurant open to the street.
commercial bustle
Scene from one of the many markets outside the walled city of Dali
Embedded in a magical lakeside setting, the ancient capital of the Bai people has remained, until some time ago, a refuge for the backpacker community of travelers. The social and economic changes of China they fomented the invasion of Chinese to discover the southwest corner of the nation.

Unexpected Bell-Tastings

All of a sudden, the specialties of Dali, Yunnan appear before us as a civilizational challenge that we cannot dodge.

We have crickets, grasshoppers and larvae, lightly fried, lined up on wooden skewers, displayed in a precarious balance at the end of the large wok where, like river fish, small shrimp and other delicacies, the business owner cooked them. We inaugurate the tasting by the locusts.

More than crunchy, they are crunchy. They reveal a surprising taste of salt and water biscuits, one of the most salty.

Insectivorous snacks, Dali, Yunnan, China

Grilled insect and larva kebabs for sale on the street.

We move on to crickets. We had already tasted worse Doritos so we repeated them effortlessly. We suspected the larvae and with good reason. They confirmed a repulsive spongy texture. Its aftertaste, of something between moss and slime, disgusted us to match.

We made the ugly faces we expected, thanked the seller for the intrigued attention she had paid us and returned to our uncompromised tour through the geometric streets of the old walled city.

In more recent years, Dali, too, had gained a bittersweet flavor. Until the mid-80s, it remained one of the historical gems of Yunnan, one of the furthest provinces from the great Chinese metropolises, the capital. Beijing, Shanghai, meanwhile, Hong Kong and others.

The backpacking route that explored the southwest corner of the China to then go up towards Lijiang, Shangri-La and Lhasa, the pierced heart of Tibet.

Dali's Backpack Era

By that time, Dali, like the rest of the country, remained calm and genuine. The remedied outsiders brought with them, in their mouthwashes, novelties and differences that surprised the natives. These, concerned only what was necessary with the reception of visitors.

As the walls defended old Dali from countless enemy attacks, mutual cultural respect preserved the city's integrity. This went on for a while, until, as expected, Yunnan's spectacularity spilled over. With the province featured in the international travel press, outsiders increased.

Residents stopped resisting the backpacking profit that was increasingly knocking on their doors. Simple homes were transformed into inns, craft and souvenir shops and bars and restaurants that started serving crepes, kebabs and falafel, not just the Siapaos, jiaozis and the eccentric delicacies, all too often too spicy in the region.

After the turn to the XNUMXst century, one of the consequences of the technological and financial development of the China, was the emergence of a wealthy middle class that claimed the right to travel.

Places like Dali – and, even more, Lijiang – they quickly found themselves invaded by hordes of compatriots, above all of the Han ethnic group, demanding and haughty who now roam the streets and alleys with their eyes fixed on the trembling flags of the guides. Luckily, we arrived in the region in the off-season, far from any of the more popular vacation periods in the China.

Shaping Market – No Patience for Foreigners

We point to the Shaping market. It was still early and there came together producers from the villages and hamlets in the vicinity of Dali, around the great lake Erhai and the mountains that contain it.

We went up the main avenue where transactions take place, paying attention to the wares and the rude manners of the sellers. Women in wicker hats sitting on the floor try to foist brooms, baskets and other goods, arranged in a long makeshift window.

Market in Dali, Yunnan, China

Scene from one of the many markets outside the walled city of Dali

Next door, a raw material dealer for extensions bought women's hair. With apparent success, such were the suitors waiting to sacrifice their own. When we peek at the business, you notice Sara's. Without ceremonies, he feels it and evaluates it.

Calculator in hand, he makes her a proposal, loud enough to take her seriously and almost – but almost quite remote – for her to consider the offer. Accordingly, we proceeded with the capillary reserve intact and the same number of yuan with which we had arrived.

Further up the street, we come across vegetable stands, with therapeutic roots and clothing, with real buffets of exotic delicacies, some much more challenging than the fried insects we had already tasted a few hours before.

The women who managed the food stalls had little bowls and bowls with different sauces and ingredients, pasta, vegetables and meats scattered around.

They cooked them using small stoves or woks and served a hungry entourage that shouted their orders, settled down and greedily devoured their meals, without wasting their moments to breathe in too much conversation.

Products for sale and sellers followed one another. And the Bai's aversion to our photographic approaches was confirmed. In few places on Earth we feel such strong resistance to cameras and lenses. Asking for permission generated refusals.

An Absolute Aversion to Photography

To the detriment of our sins, we were rejected by a number of amazing characters from that China country and deep, rich in fashions and befitting contrasts. We saw peasants in Maoist garb and berets, tanned ladies under long scarves that blended into hijabs.

We crossed paths with dealers in suits and brimmed hats, with grannies in bright, 100% baited garments, or with the exceptional young man who, dressed in a white suit and hat by JR Ewing he of the Asias, he felt more rejoicing than any other countryman.

Dali Market Customer, Yunnan, China

A dressed man with a Texan look at a market outside the city.

In spite of the abundance of figures and the variety of styles, taking pictures without asking provoked immediate avoidances or slurs in native dialect that could even be well disposed, something that the brusque way of communicating of the Chinese in general and, in particular of the Bai, does not. allowed to infer.

We do what we can. When we got back inside the walls, we despaired of a distraction that would mask our unexpected frustration.

From its porticoes inwards, Dali lived under a dazzling split personality. We saw her giving herself to the most distinguished entertainment rituals with which she bound strangers.

These, photographed in historical Bai costumes, starred in intricate matchmaking productions on the ramparts or bastions of the fortress, or elbowed each other in the eminence of the watchtowers, which they climbed to photograph the surrounding panoramas.

Mahjong in Dali, Yunnan, China

Animation around a mahjong table in a street in the old town of Dali

The Disputed Streets of True Dali

Simultaneously, in other existential exchanges, the local daily life continued on the sidelines of all that tourist commotion. Retired people are entertained around disputed mahjong tables.

Butchers cut the newly arrived pieces of meat, the owner of a Chinese restaurant touches up the lush display made up of sauces and vegetable arrangements.

Blown embers, Dali, Yunnan, China

Boy resorts to a creative way of pulling the coals.

Next door, a young man, probably his son, begs fire from a coal so resistant that it forces him to replace the wicker shakers with a hair dryer.

We continued. We are faced with chattering battalions of students who, freed from classes and entertained by successive tumults, parade the dark blue uniforms of their student class.

Students in uniform, Dali, Yunnan, China

Dali's school students walk along a walled city street, after school

We entered a Renmin Road. There we found the school they came from. We detour onto Xinmin Road and come face to face with a church.

By itself, a Christian temple in those borderlands and believers in traditional Chinese polytheism or, whatever, Buddhists or Muslims from China it would be a wonder.

Dali Catholic Church, Yunnan, China

Detail of the Catholic church in Dali, built in 1927, severely damaged during the Cultural Revolution and restored as a Historic Landmark in 1984.

As if that wasn't enough, it was one of the most unusual churches we'd ever come across, with forms faithful to traditional Chinese architecture.

An Unexpected and Troubled Christian Church

The church was built in 1927 by French missionaries with the purpose of revitalizing Yunnan Catholicism, introduced in the region in the XNUMXth century, at a time when missionaries and newly converted Christians were often martyred.

During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, it suffered severe destruction and was closed. It would only be renewed and reopened by the authorities in 1984, when it received a status of Historic Protection that allowed it to last without further tribulations. Thus, it preserves several exuberant sections of gnarled roofs crowned by a golden cross. When we enter, it is empty.

The interior reveals a space similar to the more modern and sober naves of Western Protestant churches. In a painting exposed on the altar, Christ wears a red tunic, has a blue cape on his back and appears enveloped in a golden glow, in the manner of a superhero prophet.

Dali Catholic Church Altar, Yunnan, China

Facade behind the altar of the Catholic church in Dali

The two rudimentary paintings of the angels that flank it, the yellow Chinese characters underneath, complement a religious artistic ensemble in such an unusual way that it leaves us scratching our heads. In any case, the time for us to appreciate it soon ran out.

The guardian of the temple appears out of nowhere and informs us that it has to close, the same as thousands of her fellow citizens did for those who had already spent a long day in front of shops and businesses.

Dali Fort, Yunnan, China

Watchtower and defense based on one of the entrance portals to the city

When the night cheers up Dali

Artificial lighting in the area between walls anticipates the twilight. It heats up and lends new splendor to the watchtowers above the entrance porticoes.

The peaked roofs are gilded that contrasts with the twilight blue of the sky always clear and with the reinforced green of the walls below, which are already covered with climbing vegetation. We went up to one of these towers and from a window on the fortified top, we admired how the city surrendered at night.

From there, Yunnan, China

View of a street in the historic center of Dali at dusk.

Back on the ground, Dali's nightly version continues to amaze us. The sound of Chinese folk music awakens our senses. In pursuit of the melody, we turned a tight corner.

Without expecting it, we were faced with a kind of local Flash Mob. Dozens of residents had gathered in an open square. Without further ado, an elderly hostess and a DJ inaugurate the music and hostilities.

The participants integrate a wide choreography and dance with grace and harmony, only possible through the daily repetition of the ritual. After the first song, several others dance, each worthy of new individual movements, to the delight of some young people who, on the sidelines, laugh heartily and, in this way, celebrate the vitality of mothers, grandmothers, neighbors.

Forty minutes later, as spontaneously as it had started, the meeting comes to an end. The hostess interrupts dryly the song that dragged on. In the good Chinese way, the dancers simply stop dancing. Do not say goodbye.

They don't give in to any kind of contact or similar nitpicking. Instead, they turn their backs on the closest ladies and go on their way. Dali has been the way it is for a long time. Visitors to the heaps are still changing.

More information about Dali on the website of Encyclopaedia Britannica

Bingling Yes, China

The Canyon of a Thousand Buddhas

For more than a millennium and at least seven dynasties, Chinese devotees have extolled their religious belief with the legacy of sculpture in a remote strait of the Yellow River. If you disembark in the Canyon of Thousand Buddhas, you may not find all the sculptures, but you will find a stunning Buddhist shrine.
Dunhuang, China

An Oasis in the China of the Sands

Thousands of kilometers west of Beijing, the Great Wall has its western end and the China and other. An unexpected splash of vegetable green breaks up the arid expanse all around. Announces Dunhuang, formerly crucial outpost on the Silk Road, today an intriguing city at the base of Asia's largest sand dunes.
Lijiang, China

A Gray City but Little

Seen from afar, its vast houses are dreary, but Lijiang's centuries-old sidewalks and canals are more folkloric than ever. This city once shone as the grandiose capital of the Naxi people. Today, floods of Chinese visitors who fight for the quasi-theme park it have become take it by storm.
Longsheng, China

Huang Luo: the Chinese Village of the Longest Hairs

In a multi-ethnic region covered with terraced rice paddies, the women of Huang Luo have surrendered to the same hairy obsession. They let the longest hair in the world grow, years on end, to an average length of 170 to 200 cm. Oddly enough, to keep them beautiful and shiny, they only use water and rice.
Lijiang e Yangshuo, China

An Impressive China

One of the most respected Asian filmmakers, Zhang Yimou dedicated himself to large outdoor productions and co-authored the media ceremonies of the Beijing OG. But Yimou is also responsible for “Impressions”, a series of no less controversial stagings with stages in emblematic places.
Lhasa, Tibet

The Sino-Demolition of the Roof of the World

Any debate about sovereignty is incidental and a waste of time. Anyone who wants to be dazzled by the purity, affability and exoticism of Tibetan culture should visit the territory as soon as possible. The Han civilizational greed that moves China will soon bury millenary Tibet.
Dali, China

Chinese Style Flash Mob

The time is set and the place is known. When the music starts playing, a crowd follows the choreography harmoniously until time runs out and everyone returns to their lives.
Lhasa, Tibet

When Buddhism Tires of Meditation

It is not only with silence and spiritual retreat that one seeks Nirvana. At the Sera Monastery, the young monks perfect their Buddhist knowledge with lively dialectical confrontations and crackling clapping of hands.
Huang Shan, China

Huang Shan: The Yellow Mountains of the Floating Peaks

The granitic peaks of the floating yellow mountains of Huang Shan, from which acrobat pines sprout, appear in artistic illustrations from China without count. The real scenery, in addition to being remote, remains hidden above the clouds for over 200 days.
Lhasa, Tibet

Sera, the Monastery of the Sacred Debate

In few places in the world a dialect is used as vehemently as in the monastery of Sera. There, hundreds of monks, in Tibetan, engage in intense and raucous debates about the teachings of the Buddha.
Beijing, China

The Heart of the Great Dragon

It is the incoherent historic center of Maoist-Communist ideology and almost all Chinese aspire to visit it, but Tianamen Square will always be remembered as a macabre epitaph of the nation's aspirations.
Badaling, China

The Sino Invasion of the Great Wall of China

With the arrival of the hot days, hordes of Han visitors take over the Great Wall of China, the largest man-made structure. They go back to the era of imperial dynasties and celebrate the nation's newfound prominence.
Guilin, China

The Gateway to the Chinese Stone Kingdom

The immensity of jagged limestone hills around it is so majestic that the authorities of Beijing they print it on the back of the 20-yuan notes. Those who explore it almost always pass through Guilin. And even if this city in the province of Guangxi clashes with the exuberant nature around it, we also found its charms.
Lhasa a Gyantse, Tibet

Gyantse, through the Heights of Tibet

The final target is the Tibetan Everest Base Camp. On this first route, starting from Lhasa, we pass by the sacred lake of Yamdrok (4.441m) and the glacier of the Karo gorge (5.020m). In Gyantse, we surrender to the Tibetan-Buddhist splendor of the old citadel.
Okavango Delta, Not all rivers reach the sea, Mokoros
Okavango Delta, Botswana

Not all rivers reach the sea

Third longest river in southern Africa, the Okavango rises in the Angolan Bié plateau and runs 1600km to the southeast. It gets lost in the Kalahari Desert where it irrigates a dazzling wetland teeming with wildlife.
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 5th - Ngawal a BragaNepal

Towards the Nepalese Braga

We spent another morning of glorious weather discovering Ngawal. There is a short journey towards Manang, the main town on the way to the zenith of the Annapurna circuit. We stayed for Braga (Braka). The hamlet would soon prove to be one of its most unforgettable places.
Engravings, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Architecture & Design
luxor, Egypt

From Luxor to Thebes: Journey to Ancient Egypt

Thebes was raised as the new supreme capital of the Egyptian Empire, the seat of Amon, the God of Gods. Modern Luxor inherited the Temple of Karnak and its sumptuousness. Between one and the other flow the sacred Nile and millennia of dazzling history.
Tibetan heights, altitude sickness, mountain prevent to treat, travel

Altitude Sickness: the Grievances of Getting Mountain Sick

When traveling, it happens that we find ourselves confronted with the lack of time to explore a place as unmissable as it is high. Medicine and previous experiences with Altitude Evil dictate that we should not risk ascending in a hurry.
Conflicted Way
Ceremonies and Festivities
Jerusalem, Israel

Through the Belicious Streets of Via Dolorosa

In Jerusalem, while traveling the Via Dolorosa, the most sensitive believers realize how difficult the peace of the Lord is to achieve in the most disputed streets on the face of the earth.
The Baton Rouge Capitol reflected in a reflecting pool at the State Library
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States

From the Indian Frontier to the Capital of Louisiana

During their incursion up Mississippi, the French detected a red stick that separated the territories of two native nations. From this expedition of 1723 to here, the European nations that dominated these parts followed. As history progressed, Baton Rouge became the political core of the 18th state in the United States.
World Food

Gastronomy Without Borders or Prejudice

Each people, their recipes and delicacies. In certain cases, the same ones that delight entire nations repel many others. For those who travel the world, the most important ingredient is a very open mind.
Islamic silhouettes

Istanbul, Turkey

Where East meets West, Turkey Seeks its Way

An emblematic and grandiose metropolis, Istanbul lives at a crossroads. As Turkey in general, divided between secularism and Islam, tradition and modernity, it still doesn't know which way to go

Reindeer Racing, Kings Cup, Inari, Finland
Inari, Finland

The Wackiest Race on the Top of the World

Finland's Lapps have been competing in the tow of their reindeer for centuries. In the final of the Kings Cup - Porokuninkuusajot - , they face each other at great speed, well above the Arctic Circle and well below zero.
Boat and helmsman, Cayo Los Pájaros, Los Haitises, Dominican Republic
Samaná PeninsulaLos Haitises National Park Dominican Republic

From the Samaná Peninsula to the Dominican Haitises

In the northeast corner of the Dominican Republic, where Caribbean nature still triumphs, we face an Atlantic much more vigorous than expected in these parts. There we ride on a communal basis to the famous Limón waterfall, cross the bay of Samaná and penetrate the remote and exuberant “land of the mountains” that encloses it.
Viti levu, Fiji

The Unlikely Sharing of Viti Levu Island

In the heart of the South Pacific, a large community of Indian descendants recruited by former British settlers and the Melanesian indigenous population have long divided the chief island of Fiji.
Rainbow in the Grand Canyon, an example of prodigious photographic light
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Natural Light (Part 1)

And Light was made on Earth. Know how to use it.

The theme of light in photography is inexhaustible. In this article, we give you some basic notions about your behavior, to start with, just and only in terms of geolocation, the time of day and the time of year.
Selfie, Hida from Ancient and Medieval Japan
Takayama, Japan

From the Ancient Japan to the Medieval Hida

In three of its streets, Takayama retains traditional wooden architecture and concentrates old shops and sake producers. Around it, it approaches 100.000 inhabitants and surrenders to modernity.
Playa Nogales, La Palma, Canary Islands
La Palma, Canary Islands

The "Isla Bonita" of the Canary Islands

In 1986 Madonna Louise Ciccone launched a hit that popularized the attraction exerted by a island imaginary. Ambergris Caye, in Belize, reaped benefits. On this side of the Atlantic, the palmeros that's how they see their real and stunning Canaria.
Maksim, Sami people, Inari, Finland-2
Winter White
Inari, Finland

The Guardians of Boreal Europe

Long discriminated against by Scandinavian, Finnish and Russian settlers, the Sami people regain their autonomy and pride themselves on their nationality.
On the Crime and Punishment trail, St. Petersburg, Russia, Vladimirskaya
Saint Petersburg, Russia

On the Trail of "Crime and Punishment"

In St. Petersburg, we cannot resist investigating the inspiration for the base characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky's most famous novel: his own pities and the miseries of certain fellow citizens.
PN Timanfaya, Mountains of Fire, Lanzarote, Caldera del Corazoncillo
PN Timanfaya, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

PN Timanfaya and the Fire Mountains of Lanzarote

Between 1730 and 1736, out of nowhere, dozens of volcanoes in Lanzarote erupted successively. The massive amount of lava they released buried several villages and forced almost half of the inhabitants to emigrate. The legacy of this cataclysm is the current Martian setting of the exuberant PN Timanfaya.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Mangrove between Ibo and Quirimba Island-Mozambique
Natural Parks
Ibo Island a Quirimba IslandMozambique

Ibo to Quirimba with the Tide

For centuries, the natives have traveled in and out of the mangrove between the island of Ibo and Quirimba, in the time that the overwhelming return trip from the Indian Ocean grants them. Discovering the region, intrigued by the eccentricity of the route, we follow its amphibious steps.
San Juan, Old Town, Puerto Rico, Reggaeton, Flag on Gate
UNESCO World Heritage
San Juan, Puerto Rico (Part 2)

To the Rhythm of Reggaeton

Restless and inventive Puerto Ricans have made San Juan the reggaeton capital of the world. At the preferred beat of the nation, they filled their “Walled City” with other arts, color and life.
In elevator kimono, Osaka, Japan
Osaka, Japan

In the Company of Mayu

Japanese nightlife is a multi-faceted, multi-billion business. In Osaka, an enigmatic couchsurfing hostess welcomes us, somewhere between the geisha and the luxury escort.
Daytona Beach Portico, most famous beach of the year, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida, United States

The so-called World's Most Famous Beach

If its notoriety comes mainly from NASCAR races, in Daytona Beach, we find a peculiar seaside resort and a vast and compact beach that, in times past, was used for car speed tests.
Golden Rock of Kyaikhtiyo, Buddhism, Myanmar, Burma
Mount Kyaiktiyo, Myanmar

The Golden and Balancing Rock of Buddha

We are discovering Rangoon when we find out about the Golden Rock phenomenon. Dazzled by its golden and sacred balance, we join the now centuries-old Burmese pilgrimage to Mount Kyaiktyo.
Train Fianarantsoa to Manakara, Malagasy TGV, locomotive
On Rails
Fianarantsoa-Manakara, Madagascar

On board the Malagasy TGV

We depart Fianarantsoa at 7a.m. It wasn't until 3am the following morning that we completed the 170km to Manakara. The natives call this almost secular train Train Great Vibrations. During the long journey, we felt, very strongly, those of the heart of Madagascar.
Military Religious, Wailing Wall, IDF Flag Oath, Jerusalem, Israel
Jerusalem, Israel

A Festive Wailing Wall

The holiest place in Judaism is not only attended by prayers and prayers. Its ancient stones have witnessed the oath of new IDF recruits for decades and echo the euphoric screams that follow.
Busy intersection of Tokyo, Japan
Daily life
Tokyo, Japan

The Endless Night of the Rising Sun Capital

Say that Tokyo do not sleep is an understatement. In one of the largest and most sophisticated cities on the face of the Earth, twilight marks only the renewal of the frenetic daily life. And there are millions of souls that either find no place in the sun, or make more sense in the “dark” and obscure turns that follow.
Ross Bridge, Tasmania, Australia
Discovering tassie, Part 3, Tasmania, Australia

Tasmania from Top to Bottom

The favorite victim of Australian anecdotes has long been the Tasmania never lost the pride in the way aussie ruder to be. Tassie remains shrouded in mystery and mysticism in a kind of hindquarters of the antipodes. In this article, we narrate the peculiar route from Hobart, the capital located in the unlikely south of the island to the north coast, the turn to the Australian continent.
Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand

The Aeronautical Conquest of the Southern Alps

In 1955, pilot Harry Wigley created a system for taking off and landing on asphalt or snow. Since then, his company has unveiled, from the air, some of the greatest scenery in Oceania.