a bicycle ride to erhai lake & the three pagodas of dali

Wednesday, February 11:  This is our only day in Dali, and we get a very late start.  First, we sleep in.  I’ve been sick with a cold and cough, and last night I started feeling an earache coming on.  This morning, it’s bad, and I know an earache doesn’t just go away on its own.  I’m going to need some antibiotics to clear up the problem, and my choice is to get some medication today, in Dali, or wait until I get to Myanmar, because we’re going to be in transit every day from now until Sunday, when I fly to Mandalay.

First, we have breakfast in the dining room of the hotel, right off the courtyard below.

Courtyard at Dali Mountain Delights

Courtyard at Dali Mountain Delights

After breakfast, we ask the daughter of the hotel manager, who speaks excellent English, first, where we can find a clinic, and second, where we can rent bicycles. She tells us the hotel has bicycles we can use for free, but when we try them, we find the seats are too low and no matter what we do we can’t raise them.  We need some kind of tool because they seem to be stuck.  She tells us she will walk us into Dali and help us find a clinic and a bike shop.

We walk our bikes into the town and the streets are so congested with a big market that we can hardly move.  Because we are walking with the bicycles, we can’t easily push our way through the crowd.  We are at a standstill for ages.  When we finally emerge from the frenzy, the girl asks directions from a local man.  She looks baffled and as we walk away she tells us she didn’t understand him as he spoke the local dialect, which she doesn’t know. Oh dear, even Chinese people often can’t communicate in China!

After the girl asks several other locals for directions to the clinic, we finally find an open air hole in a wall, where a lot of sick-looking people sit miserably on uncomfortable chairs around the room.  In an adjoining office, also fronting the street, is a doctor talking on the phone and smoking a cigarette. The girl beckons us to follow her directly into the doctor’s office and explains to him that we need an antibiotic for an ear infection.  The doctor doesn’t put down the phone or his cigarette, but grabs a box of something from a shelf, “Rhythromycin,” and shoves it to us over the desk, going back to his conversation after telling the girl how much we owe and that I need to take 3 tablets a day after meals for 2 days.

Next, we go to the bike shop, where the repairman has a tool to help raise the seats on the bike.  Finally, we’re on our way.  We head out the north gate of Dali on a long convoluted road toward Erhai Lake.

views on our bicycle ride

views on our bicycle ride

Once we’re outside the town, the road is straight and slightly downhill, so it’s a breeze.  Of course I know you always have to pay for a downhill ride; on the way back it will be a long slow climb.  We make periodic stops to admire views  of Zhonghe Peak, one of the tallest mountains in the Cangshan range to the west of Dali, and the farmland in the valley.

We’re heading east to the shore of the forty-kilometer-long Erhai, meaning “Ear-shaped sea.”  The east-west width of the lake is roughly 7–8 kilometres (4.3–5.0 mi). Its area is 250 square kilometres (97 sq mi), making it the second largest highland lake of China, after Dianchi Lake in Kunming.

Cangshan Mountain in the distance

Cangshan Mountain in the distance

Alex and our bicycles

Alex and our bicycles

Alex along the roadside

Alex along the roadside

The countryside between Dali and Erhai Lake

The countryside between Dali and Erhai Lake

More of the countryside

More of the countryside

The road ends at a parking lot on the lakeshore; it’s occupied by vendors selling dried fruits.  We buy several bags of kiwi, pineapple and plums.  A dock juts into the lake from the parking lot, but it is closed except to people who are going on a boat cruise, which I’ve heard is a long affair.  We’re too late for that. Instead we look for a path along the shore where we can ride our bikes.  We find a path, but it isn’t very long.  We ride along the shore for a bit, admiring the pretty lane and the lake shore, with gnarly trees growing along its edge.

Erhai Lake

Erhai Lake

Paintings found on many buildings in Dali

Paintings found on many buildings in Dali

Hotels along Erhai Lake

Hotels along Erhai Lake

Erhai Lake

Erhai Lake

Alex finds this little pavilion a perfect place to do a handstand.

Pavilion on Erhai Lake

Pavilion on Erhai Lake

Erhai Lake

Erhai Lake

View from the pavilion to the shore

View from the pavilion to the shore

Erhai Lake

Erhai Lake

Shore of Erhai Lake

Shore of Erhai Lake

Trees on the border of Erhai Lake

Trees on the border of Erhai Lake

Boat at Erhai Lake

Boat at Erhai Lake

Boats at Erhai Lake

Boats at Erhai Lake

By this time, it’s quite late in the afternoon and we’re hungry.  We look for a restaurant on the street near the lake.  We wander into the courtyard of this little restaurant, where the menu is all in Chinese.  Luckily I can use my WayGo app to translate the menu.  Though time-consuming, at least we know what we’re ordering.

restaurant at Erhai Lake

restaurant at Erhai Lake

I order an eggplant dish.  It’s soaked in oil, but it’s still tasty.  I know when I get vegetables like this soaked in oil, I’m going to have stomach problems.  Later I do suffer.

Courtyard of the restaurant near Erhai Lake

Courtyard of the restaurant near Erhai Lake

After lunch, it’s a long slow ride back up the hill into Dali, just as I feared it would be.  As we’re riding along, suddenly an artist from Belgium is beside us, riding along with some canvases strapped to his bike.  He tells us he and his wife are living in Dali doing their art.  I know Dali is a haven for westerners; many have become long-time residents who have opened shops, galleries and cafes.  This young man is one of the locals.

By the time we get back to town, our butts are sore and we’re exhausted.  We decide to rest for a bit in the hotel.  Not only do I have the cold and earache, but now my stomach doesn’t feel so good either.

After a while, we head out to walk about 20 minutes north of our hotel to see Dali’s Three Pagodas. We’ve heard it’s expensive to get into the grounds.  We’ve also heard that you cannot go up inside the pagodas.  We’ve pretty much decided we’re not going to pay to get into the grounds, because we’re heard you can see them perfectly well from outside the gates.  We pass some drab parts of Dali (these are outside the old town) and some vendors selling vegetables outside the gates of the pagodas.

business along the walk to the Three Pagodas of Dali

business along the walk to the Three Pagodas of Dali

We get our first glimpse of one of the pagodas from one of the side streets.

First glimpse of one of the three pagodas

First glimpse of one of the three pagodas

When we get to the entrance gate, we can see that the park inside the gate looks quite nice and we decide we should go ahead and pay to go inside.  It’s about 4:30 by this time and the gates close at 5:00.  The woman inside refuses us entry, saying it’s too close to closing time.  I have to say I’m a little disappointed because I’m sure there are some pretty views inside the gates.  Plus our views outside the gate are not that great, contrary to what we’ve been told.  We walk around the outside of the huge gated park, trying to find some good views, but not really getting any great ones.

According to China Highlights: The Three Pagodas of Dali: the Three Pagodas are cream-colored, delicate-looking brick pagodas.  The tallest and oldest of the three, Qianxun, was built during the reign of King Quan Fengyou of the Nanzhao Kingdom, about 1,150 years ago.  The square-shaped pagoda is 16 stories, stands 69.6 meters (227 feet) high, and it is one of the tallest pagodas ever built in China. The other two were built about 100 years later, probably by the Kingdom of Dali. They stand at the foot of Yinglo Peak, one of the high peaks of the nearby Cangshan Mountain range. The tallest pagoda is one of China’s best preserved buildings from the time of the Tang Dynasty; the smaller two pagodas differ in style.

Three pagodas of Dali

Three pagodas of Dali

Three Pagodas of Dali

Three Pagodas of Dali

We’re too exhausted to walk back to Dali Old Town from the pagodas, so we take a taxi to the south gate so we can see more of the town before sundown.

Advertisements
Categories: Asia, Cangshan Mountain, China, Dali, Dali Mountain Delights, Erhai Lake, Three Pagodas of Dali, Travel, Yunnan Province, Zhonghe Peak | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

Post navigation

8 thoughts on “a bicycle ride to erhai lake & the three pagodas of dali

  1. Sorry to hear you continued to be sick throughout the trip! The pictures and essay are spectacular though; I’m really enjoying seeing the countryside with you and Alex (and his handstands!).

    I see you have a counter on your blog now of how long before you come home. Congratulations! I bet you’ll be glad to come home and will miss your adventures at the same time.

    Nancy

    Like

    • Yes, Nancy, I was sick a lot on my holiday. I started feeling better when I got to Myanmar because it was finally warm and sunny, but then I got a cough from all the dust! One thing after the other!!

      Yes, my counter is counting down my return to Virginia. I’ll be sad to leave yet happy at the same time to return home. I don’t know how long I’ll last at home before I get the urge to wander again. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. See, they did it again! Those tall pagodas, built 1150 years ago!? Amazing. This looks like a lovely area. I’m hoping your meds worked and you got better soon.

    Like

    • I know, it really is amazing, isn’t it, Carol? I’m impressed overall by the Chinese ability to build things.

      Those meds cleared up my earache very quickly, luckily. Especially as I still had over two weeks of travel ahead of me in Myanmar. 🙂

      Like

  3. It must have been a rest for your eyes having a day of softer colours for once!

    Like

  4. That first shot of the lake is so ethereal, Cathy! It looks a beautiful place.
    Dear me! Healthwise it’s a trial, isn’t it?

    Like

    • Thanks, Jo. That lake was nice, but not as amazing as I’d hoped it would be. Yes, my health has been a trial almost the entire time I’ve been in China, sadly. 😦

      Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

A lot from Lydia

You can learn a lot from Lydia...(It's a song, not a promise.)

Ink Arts by Carol

My site for offering my alcohol ink arts

I see Beauty everyday

Blessed be the ones that see beauty where others see nothing

BOOKING IT

Debra's Excellent Adventures in Reading and Travel

Marsha Ingrao

Traveling & Blogging Near and Far

PIRAN CAFÉ

Notebooks from a trampfest. Travel tips, tales and images, online since 2006.

Word Wabbit

Wrestless Word Wrestler

Cardinal Guzman

Encyclopedia Miscellaneous - 'quality' blogging since August 2011

A Faraway Home

Stories and tips from home and far away

Pit's Fritztown News

A German Expat's Life in Fredericksburg/Texas

Under a Cornish Sky

inspired by the colours of the land, sea and sky of Cornwall

sloveniangirlabroad.wordpress.com/

A blog about expat life and travel adventures written by an Slovenian girl living in Switzerland

Let Me Bite That

Can I have a bite?

Running Stories by Jerry Lewis

Personal blog about running adventures

Finding NYC

exploring New York City one adventure at a time

The World according to Dina

Notes on Seeing, Reading & Writing, Living & Loving in The North

snippetsandsnaps

Potato Point and beyond

Storyshucker

A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.

The Eye of a Thieving Magpie

My view of this wonderful and crazy life - as I travel and explore.

renatemarie.wordpress.com/

A (Mostly) Solo Female Exploring the World

NYLON DAZE

From London to New York, living in an expat daze

Blue Hour Photo Workshops

Photography is a constant travel to new places

Travel Much?

Never cease to explore and tell!

Insanity at its best!

Yousuf Bawany's Blog

%d bloggers like this: