Monday, 12 October 2009
NOT THE GREAT WALL
No, the wall in the picture is not THE Great Wall of China. Instead, it is the wall around the ancient town of Dali (wedged between mountains and lake) capital of this region in times past. More recently Dali has become a favourite travelers hang-out, but it seems to be losing popularity due to its increasing touristy nature (around the streets I've seen conspicuously few western travelers, but bus loads of local tourists instead). Another "wall" which I've encountered is the lanuage barrier, and with so many different ethnic groups in this region the accents only complicate matters. For instance, when asking directions to the next major town (thinking I've mastered the pronounciation) villagers don't understand me, and often they pronounce the same name quite differently. It is indeed handy to have a map with place names written in both western and Chinese! In China one can find just about anything - except under arm deodorant. In my efforts to explain to shopkeepers what I want (with my best impression of lifting my arm and applying the roll-on), I've been offered a bizarre range of items - eg. wash cloth, air freshener, hair removal cream, and even an electric razor! The route NW through Yunnan province has not been as hilly as before, although there have been some gear-grinding episodes (there is no flat land here!). In one patch along a river gorge there were a number of pitch-dark narrow tunnels with broken road surface, and in the dark both of us dropped our bikes into the muddy rock-side ditch in an effort to get away from traffic. We took it fairly easy though, as Leana has not yet recovered her fitness after illness. We also took the opportunity to extend our visas for another month in the city of Chuxiong, where we stayed for a day. Daily distances cycled since Kunming were:- A Village 79 km; Lufeng 38 km; Chuxionh 83 km; Shaqiao 61 km; Xianyun 95 km: Xia Guan 71 km; and Dali 14 km. Total distance on this journey cycled is 48 077 km.