Tuesday, June 13, 2006

sino journal five

Monday June 12th was a fairly easy day. In the morning, we went to the walled city of Old Dali. Dali is located at 6500 ft. between a mountain range and a large (20x6 mile) lake. It is right up against the mountains like Colorado Springs only these mountains are greener. VERY NICE. The buildings and streets are fairly new or recently rebuilt. Old style architecture, nice shops. Many streets are pedestrian only and made of granite blocks. Everything is landscaped perfectly. They have streams running channeled down the side of the streets. Very peaceful. Very soothing. This is like the nicest section of Lake Placid times 100. Perfect for the American Yuppie tourist and/or the occasional academic.

In the afternoon, we went on a boat ride across Lake Erhei to a poor fishing village. Not very remarkable for me since I have seen a lot worse in Africa and India.

Pictures of Dali

Our local tour guide is interesting. They paid her extra so she would not take us to tourist traps in order to get a cut of the sales. She told us yesterday that she would help us shop so we would not be cheated when we went into Old Dali. With her, some people paid from five to ten times as much as people did who bargained on their own. She told one woman that a piece was 99% silver when it was obviously silver plate.

Tuesday June 13th we went to a morning market in an ethnic Bai village. It was a real market and not a tourist spot. We also went to a tea ceremony that was extremely touristy. In the afternoon, we attended a lecture on the Bai people. This evening was free and we walked into the old city to eat. Very nice dinner and drinks for about $3. It was cool and breezy like the best of North Country evenings.

I went into an IP shop (internet phone) and called home. I was pretty tired and out of it. The owner spoke no English and wrote down the charge. I read rmb 264 and gave him three one-hundred bills. He waved me off then I realized it was rmb 26.4. He could have taken me and I would have never known. He obviously is not used to dealing with tourists. Those who are will rip you without hesitation.

Walked home and bought an ice cream or rather a fudge bar: rmb 1 or 12.5 cents.

I could get to like it here. It is so peaceful as well as user friendly to Westerners. The local university has a Mandarin immersion course. With tuition lodging, and food expenses it would cost less than $2000 per semester. Hmmmm.

I am the most quoted member of the group today. At a market, some people were buying smoking pipes and other artifacts that were obviously newly manufactured. The seller said it was from the Ching dynasty and I responded, “No, it is from the Ka-Ching Dynasty.”

We all agreed that the Ka-Ching Dynasty now rules China.

I asked a woman in our group who spoke a little Mandarin whether she overhead Chinese talking about us. She said yes but that most of the comments were about my height. I guess I am a couple or more standard deviations from the mean, height-wise.

Be blessed!
RB

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