Mountains, Massages and Masterchef

Trip Start Oct 02, 2011
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11
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Trip End Dec 20, 2011


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Where I stayed
Sleepyfish lodge

Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dali really has turned out to be quiet a special place! Originally we saw it just as a stop off place as one of hannah's friends had reccomended it to us, and even lonely planet advised us to many western tourists now skip it, however who listens to lonely planet now a days (But that's a totally different debate)!

The instantly calming nature of this place has given us a chance to relax and escape the busy cities of Asia, it has not however mean't we have just been chilling by the bar sipping cocktails so here's the run down of what we have been up to...

Thursday
Matt, an american who works at our hostel gave us y'all the "Lowdown" (His words not mine) when we arrived and advised us that one of the key things to do was hire the bikes for the day and cycle down the road next to the lake to a place called Xi-Zhou which was only around an hour to 90 mins away...

Being the suckers we are for relying on information handed to us we did as we were told and after breakfast donned the shorts and t-shirts and headed out in the sun for an action packed day on the bikes... The route however was not quite as we expected, the road was instead the main highway to the rest of the mountains while the new motorway was having work done on it, and the 60min bike ride actually turned out to be a 2.5 hour, 27km slog along it! 

Xi-Zhou however was a lovely sleepy village by the massive lake that has been almost untouched by tourism (apart from the odd Chinese coach tour. but lets face it they get everywhere).. We spent sometime wandering round its quiet streets and even opted for the extra bike ride to get down to the lake side and see some of the fishermen hard at work... By now it was lunch time so we stopped off at a local shop for some snacks, you could tell not many people visited here as not only did we get some strange looks but the lady had to dust off the cobwebs from all the western snacks :-)

After our much needed refreshments we then had to face the 27km ride back to our hostel, only to be faced with more traffic, more sun and this time the wind in our face... The ride took a little longer and we were both feeling it by the time we got back! We also didn't notice the extra power to sun had being at this altitude, and after getting cleaned up it suddenly became clear that hannah's back was trying to impersonate some crispy bacon, she had even managed to get a little streaky bacon strip at the top of her shorts where her top didn't quite meet them :-)
 
The day had took its toll on us so to rejuvenate the soul we opted to go for a massage before tea! However due to the severity of hannah's injuries we could only go as far as having a reflexology foot massage, but surprisingly this was just what we needed and we both came out feeling refreshed and ready for the next days punishment. 
 

Friday
We started the day with a good old hearty breakfast of scrambled egg and toast, kindly cooked on Hannah's sunburnt shoulders, or it seem't like it with the heat they were still giving off :-)
  
After the bike riding of yesterday we decided that we would have an easier day today taking in some of the views from the mountain passes that surround the city. We opted for the easier cloud pass which was a 20min cable car ride up the hill... After a short walk out of the town we reached the station only to be greeted with half asleep staff (having a busy day it seemed)! The cable car however kept you awake mostly by fear as it had obviously seen better days and taken its fair share of people up the hill!

The mountain pass however was a beautiful trail winding round the mountains through a mixture of pine forests, cliff edges, waterfalls and fresh water pools! What more could you ask for :-) The pass however had been damaged slightly in places with the odd missing hand rail or broken path, but this was concluded with a full on land slide which had recently taken place totally destroying the path, luckily they had been so kind to secure the left over gravel with a few big rocks so that you could shuffle pass the drop below while they worked on repairing them damage...

We then spent the rest of the evening exploring the city, taking in its views from one of it's ancient gates and walls (much like York but more oriental) and exploring the maze of streets and alleyways bustling with shops and markets...

Saturday

Today is officially girl day, where Hannah got to pick solely what she wanted to do (I didn't want to do any of these things.... honest) 

We started the day a little earlier than normal and were for once up and ready before 9am! we (i mean Hannah) had booked us on to a traditional Chinese cooking class with Luxi (Lucy) our local chef. After meeting up with her and some other travellers from Norway we made our way to the local market to buy the ingredients for our dishes.

The market alone was enough of a experience and nothing like those back home... Packed with local sellers flogging vegetables (off the floor) neither of us had ever seen before (actually lets just say Hannah as I haven't seen many vegetables in general) we proceeded to purchase Peppers, Chilli's, and spring onions twice the size of anything back home and probably a tenth of the price... Although the market also had its fair share of meat, again just laid out in the open on rather unclean tables, Lucy knew westerns all too well and informed us that she had purchased our meat from a local supermarket, Phew!! 

We then went over to lucy's cooking school at her house to create our 3 dishes of Tofu Salad, Fish flavoured Eggplant and Gongbao Chicken...  After a detailed explanation of the different styles of Chinese cooking due to the different regions (and from her explanation it seems like we are in the Yorkshire of china as they do it all differently in the one place) and the different potions they all use in them we began to create our meals... I however had different plans as it seems my hands disliked the little bowls and proceeded to knock over every bowl of flour or oil it could see, much to the disgust of a very excited Hannah.

By the end of the class we were expert oriental chefs and completely stuffed with our creations, leaving with our own recipe books and little bags filled with special peppers and chilli's you can't get at home. We feel ready to cook you all a Chinese meal like you have never had before... and if you are really lucky the toilet experience that can be had with it!

We have now returned to the hostel to relax a little and let the sun die down before we head back into the centre to undertake a bit of shopping (I told you it was a girl day) and possibly another Chinese massage before tea...

Tomorrow we begin the task of pack our belongings once again as we move on to our new home in Lijang, our last mountain town and the gateway to Tiger Leaping Gorge!!

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