This post was written together with Danielle and also appears on The Roaming Coconuts.
Well not quite, but we want to see how many times we can use the same Tupac reference on our blog. We first made a brief stop in Bijie to visit Silvia’s college friend who is doing Peace Corps.
It was a great way for us to relax for a few days; Silvia had plenty of time to catch up on her fellow Ephs as she and Jason reminisced about their days at Williams College and I took of advantage of access to a VPN and caught up on…..Facebook. We loved meeting Jason’s students, who cooked us some of the best food we’ve had in China. Then we actually headed to Dali.
Dali was our final destination during our travels in China, and our visit just so happened to coincide with Halloween! Not a bad place to be, as it marked our return to the Banana Pancake Trail, meaning there were plenty of Western treats (Milkshakes! Burgers!) to make us feel better about not being able to
trick or treat celebrate with our friends in the US (Silvia’s 4th Halloween in a row abroad…).
After an eventful seven-hour train ride from Kunming, which included a PB&J tutorial for our Chinese seatmates, a filmed magic show starring Silvia (her second shot at fame in China), free giveaways and an infomercial for quick-dry towels (was something going on outside that you were trying to distract us from seeing, China?) we arrived.
We checked into the Jade Emu hostel and were blown away by how fancy it was. I mean, towels and toilet paper are pretty much an automatic three-stars, but this place was some sort or hostel/hotel hybrid.
We weren’t sure anyone in Dali would be celebrating Halloween, but that didn’t stop us from smearing lipstick blood all over our faces before heading out for the day. But since it was China, unclear if there were actually more stares/photos being taken than usual.
Dali is a nice place to spend a day walking around, shopping (there is an amazing stationary store where you can buy super funky postcards, unfortunately we forget the name) and of course, eating.
However, the biggest treat was ordering craft beer for the first time in nine months (!!!!) at Bad Monkey Bar, and realizing that our friend’s band from Chiang Mai was playing. We didn’t even know they were in China, what a small world!
Speaking of small world, we spent the night hanging out with a big group of Americans, a first for us on this trip. We were pleasantly reminded of how much we like our countryfolk, and just how diverse they can be.
There was Tom, an old timer from Alaska who just recently got electricity, Kevin, the brewmaster from Minnesota who is living abroad for the first time, Nate, our new friend and fellow blogger from Colorado and a group of exchange students who made us feel really, really old.
There is a lot more to do in Yunan province, unfortunately we had to take (the much less eventful) train back to Kunming in order to catch a bus to Vietnam.
- The train from Kunming to Dali cost about $10 and took seven hours. There are buses that are much faster but twice as expensive.
- We stayed at the Jade Emu hostel, $6/night for a dorm room. Highly recommended!
- I had some massive problems the first time I went to China and tried to get a visa independently, so I highly recommend using iVisa if you want to take the hassle out of it (or if doing it yourself, pay very close attention to all the details of the application – especially your photo – and factor in a lot of extra time in case you’re denied at first).
p.s. Please, please do not forget to get travel insurance for this trip!
After being hospitalized in Beijing I swear by travel insurance. I use World Nomads, which has by far the best reviews and is really affordable. They helped me find a hospital when I needed, and then when I filed a claim with them all I had to do was send my receipts and I had a check in the mail from them within a couple of weeks. So easy!
You can get a quote here: