Sunday, 19 May 2013

Day 85 - Midu to Weishan to Dali - Sun 19 May 2013

Day 85 - Midu to Weishan to Dali - Sun 19 May 2013
Sadly, the smell from toilets increased from unpleasant to intolerable throughout night, so when we were awoken to the sound of tinny Chinese “dolly” music emanating from the temple, it was not hard to pack up. We did not leave however until GirlRob had washed her hair in the clear cold mountain water, and savoured the novelty of peanut butter on toast (gotta love those ex-pat supermarkets). 
The plateau was crowded with rice paddies and vegie gardens. Full workforce on the job, no Sunday off for planters, weeders, fertilizers, tillers, harvesters, marketers. Short run down through mountains from plateau then turned right to Weishan. Extensive vegetable gardens all along valley, heavily labour intensive, magnificent produce including corn, cabbages, strawberries, onions, carrots, tomatoes, and "aubergine/eggplant thingys". Thin channels carrying murky water to scoop for hand watering. Some creating artificial hothouses by covering rows with curved bamboo canes covered in plastic with holes on top. Goats in one terrace - tough job for goatherd not to let them into green crops! Stopped to buy tempting strawberries along road. Travelling on edge of drop-off as climb mountains again. Horses for ploughing and to move big rocks, rather than water buffalo. A man filled panniers and hit pony on rump and it knew to walk to edge and then take track down slope alone. Passed a fancy toll gate, no longer in use. 

Many old clay brick and thatch houses in feudal-like compounds with high gates, mud and straw rendered. Quaint, but being steadily replaced or added to by 2-3 story brick houses with large windows, painted white with tiled roof, flooring and support columns. Inset picture tiles on the gates and buildings are very attractive. Dry hills - must cart water uphill from creek below by hand. Rows of gum trees the only green in sight. Saw aquiduct on outskirts of town. Morning tea at beautiful old temple on hill full of gravesites outside Weishan. Old woman pointed out Tao story murals, mimed carving of intricate wooden frescos. Scary warrior statues holding eyeballs, or with two heads. With several monks around it appeared to be Hindi and Buddhism combined. 

Huge feast being prepared vats of translucent eggs, finely cleaver-ed pork and fish, kettles on fire all sitting around algae green swimming pool. Screened cubicles at back - men in one, women in other playing mahjong. Little girls came screaming/ giggling over to vehicle and mimed jumping like a kangaroo at our logo. 

Departed north towards Dali - heaps of unmarked double speed humps on highway - ouch(!!) Large wind turbines on hill - first we've seen in Asia. 


 Five 6 ton trucks in our convoy!

New town (concrete wires and pipes) is never as fascinating as the Old Town, so we usually make a beeline there. Parked on road leading up to the turreted walls, went through South Gate and past the buskers into Old Town -firecrackers, stalls, silversmith, leather water carriers, jade, ethnic clothing and jewelry. Indigo blue batik is a specialty of region. Lunch at place where ingredients were displayed on street, pointed out our choice, Andy ordered and we had an excellent meal including rose petal omelette. 


Three couples of our five booked into Donkey/World backpackers hostel (fabulous pink room - "Hello Kitty" is alive and well in China!), and for security parked on street in full view of our windows. Good chance to wash large items, and must admit some are sick of living in goldfish bowl with interminable numbers of people stopping to ask the same old questions, wanting to see inside, and pose with you for photos. Made plans to go to village markets, explore old city and maybe chairlift up the mountains overlooking the lake.


Used twin tub and spin dryer (very modern!) hung out sheets and towels undercover on roof. iPeople must have upset China because no websites will open no matter how many bars show up. Paradoxically Cheryl gets personal hotspot on her Galaxy device (so maddening for iUsers….) Dinner with Guy, Jon and Jude at new vegetarian place (although unanimous agreement best part was Dali’s famous Belgium waffle on way home).

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