We headed out to explore Dali. The buildings are pretty, but it is unfortunate to know that they have been rebuilt for tourism, rather than being the original buildings. As we mentioned, tourism in Dali got started when western backpackers discovered the town and they have erected a bronze statue down town to commemorate the first travelers. See the resemblance?
One of the first main attractions we found was an old Catholic Church. This was built on the outside in a very traditional local style, but seemed a bit more impressive than the normal buildings with the tower incorporated into the main church. It was down a small alleyway and then a gated lane. Inside, it was very austere with no detail. We found it interesting that all the Buddhist temples and shrines that are no longer official still get praying, but here at the church any signs of worship were strictly forbidden.
Coming to the central gate that is supposed to be in the center of the old city, we found a way up. It was a small staircase inside an expensive jewellery shop. Not what you would expect, but it was free. If you can find it! At the top, you can get a good view of the thoroughfares and the traditional roofs of the old town. The staircase down on the other side had been blocked off, and was now being used as a storage area, so it was back down into the shop and we headed south. Stumbling across a museum, we thought we would take a look. (That is a bit harsh, as things are actually signposted here) Not sure why, but it was free to go in here as well. We are starting to like Dali!
The museum was well done with different sections and decent descriptions, but then it started raining. The layout was in a traditional courtyard style with individual buildings scattered through the complex and pavilions holding stele and other statues so there were sections out in the weather. By the time we finished we needed a place to stay out of the rain (and a decent toilet! This hasn’t been so bad in places we had been, but this one was almost on bus station levels) so we decided to head back to the hotel to wait it out. After all, the hotel was only a couple of km away. By the time we got back we were drenched. We had stopped to buy an umbrella, but it was already too late.
After the rain eased off and we got some dry clothes on, we went out to walk a few other streets for a while before getting dinner at a different place. Better than the last.
Doing the blog, we found out that the memory card in the camera had become corrupted and we lost some of the photos for the day. A bit disappointing, and if we revisit the places we will have to take more.