China

China: Exquisite Textiles And Embroidery In Baisha

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BAISHA

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The sleepy town of Baisha rests at the bottom of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in western China, and is known for the ethnic minorities that live there, and the exquisite embroideries that they produce.  We were lucky to stumble onto Baisha, after cycling out of Lijiang without a fixed destination. We ended up staying there for a week to soak up the chilled out atmosphere and to explore the rich array of textiles.  We had finally found our 'beach' after 5 months of travelling.

As a clothing designer, I was in my haven.  There were tens of shops selling both new and antique textiles, and every day I would look at the embroideries in awe, chatting to the owners to learn about the pieces they had collected.  Many were made by the local ethnic minorities, which have great tribal names like Yi, Dong, Bai, Yao, Naxi, and Miao.  

The hundred of antique embroideries for sale in Basha, all priced at a few hundred dollars a piece

The hundred of antique embroideries for sale in Basha, all priced at a few hundred dollars a piece

 

Embroidery

The level of detail on the antiques is extraordinary, and many would make fine examples of Chinese ethnic embroidery in any museum or gallery.  I couldn't believe they were just there, hanging up for anyone to touch and see!

So I took as many pictures as I could, to share with you the wonderful embroideries that exist in this tiny town in rural China.  

Cotton appliqué technique embroidery, made by the Yi minority.  Cotton appliqué technique

Cotton appliqué technique embroidery, made by the Yi minority.  Cotton appliqué technique

Sequinned silk embroidered baby carrier, made by the Dong minority

Sequinned silk embroidered baby carrier, made by the Dong minority

Many of the pieces on display were baby carriers, and this is still how young children are carried around today on their mothers backs, wrapped in beautifully embroidered pieces of fabric.  The mothers don't tend to use the antique carriers because I would imagine they are too valuable, but there were many mass produced options with machined embroidery, which are more popular.

Double needle embroidery, made by the Dong minority

Double needle embroidery, made by the Dong minority

Embroidered decorative neck collar

Embroidered decorative neck collar

Horsetail embroidery - this is where horse hair is bound by threads to form a rope, and is then stitched onto the top of the fabric in a decorative arrangement

Horsetail embroidery - this is where horse hair is bound by threads to form a rope, and is then stitched onto the top of the fabric in a decorative arrangement

This is a new piece of embroidery stitched onto an oversized necklace.  The lady in the shop told me that her sister produced this by hand

This is a new piece of embroidery stitched onto an oversized necklace.  The lady in the shop told me that her sister produced this by hand

Some very 3D hand embroidery, using beads.  Probably one of my favourite pieces because it was just so heavy and chunky

Some very 3D hand embroidery, using beads.  Probably one of my favourite pieces because it was just so heavy and chunky

 

Tie Dye

This is a speciality of the Bai minority that still live and work in Baisha.  They make tie dyed pieces on cotton fabric, and sell them in this area of the Yunnan province.  Each piece takes hours to make due to the intricate tying of the fabric, and one of the ladies showed me a work in progress in the courtyard of her shop.

Tie dyed fabric for sale, hand produced by the Bai minority in Baisha

Tie dyed fabric for sale, hand produced by the Bai minority in Baisha

A local making some tie dye pieces in her shop.  These take quite some time to prepare and tie before the dying process

A local making some tie dye pieces in her shop.  These take quite some time to prepare and tie before the dying process

After dying, she has to untie the threads to reveal the un-dyed sections

After dying, she has to untie the threads to reveal the un-dyed sections

The final piece... the one on the right is dyed a second time to get the additional colour

The final piece... the one on the right is dyed a second time to get the additional colour

 

Embroidery Work Of The Masters

One of the most incredible things to witness was seeing the workshops where the finest level of hand-embroidery was still being produced to this day.  A handful of incredibly skilled women are still in training to become master-level embroiders, and work long hours every day to hone and develop their skills.  We were shown around the on-site gallery which displayed hundreds of their works, all exquisite in the level of skill and detail.  All of the pieces they produce were photo-realist in style, and traditional in content so imagine an image of an oriental woman in a garden, or a fish swimming in a bowl.  Despite the content not appealing to me, you can't help but appreciate the level of work involved.  Some pieces even take the master a year and a half to complete!

The embroiderers hard at work in one of the institutes and there is always one master who is the most skilled embroiderer.  At this particular institute, the master had been commissioned for a year an a half's worth of work, for a private customer

The embroiderers hard at work in one of the institutes and there is always one master who is the most skilled embroiderer.  At this particular institute, the master had been commissioned for a year an a half's worth of work, for a private customer

Work in progress - an exquisite hand-embroidered artwork being produced by one of the masters.  Something of this quality will take months to hand stitch

Work in progress - an exquisite hand-embroidered artwork being produced by one of the masters.  Something of this quality will take months to hand stitch

 

New Embroideries

If you couldn't have afforded the vintage pieces like me then not to worry!  There were hundreds of newly produced embroideries available that had been mass produced by machine, how very China.  Lots of them however look quite cheap and brash due to the colour combinations, but if you hunt around you can find some nicer ones that look a bit more vintage.  These are more around the £10-£40 mark, so get negotiating. I managed to get prices down to under half of the initial price on most sales, so start low and work your way up.

This is an example of typical mass produced embroidery in Baisha, Yunnan.  This one is quite a nice design and relatively good quality, but some look cheap and brash.  The colours of this one help it to look more vintage in style

This is an example of typical mass produced embroidery in Baisha, Yunnan.  This one is quite a nice design and relatively good quality, but some look cheap and brash.  The colours of this one help it to look more vintage in style

Newly produced hand cross-stitched coasters.  These are very quick to produce for the skilled locals. They were 75p each

Newly produced hand cross-stitched coasters.  These are very quick to produce for the skilled locals. They were 75p each

Hand-sewn brocade throws, made by the Yao minority.  Believe it or not, all stitches are sewn by hand on a cotton base cloth. I negotiated down to £37.50 per blanket

Hand-sewn brocade throws, made by the Yao minority.  Believe it or not, all stitches are sewn by hand on a cotton base cloth. I negotiated down to £37.50 per blanket

 

Clothing

Along with the embroidered baby carriers and antique pieces of fabric, you can find a few minority tribe garments including vintage floor length dress jackets from the Miao minority, pleated flared skirts with hand cross-stitched trims, and some cropped jackets in denim fabric with embroidery.  

Many older women of the minority tribes still dress in traditional clothing even today, and you only have to walk down the street to spot them in their unique attire.

Traditional Naxi women's clothing, with embroidered detail on the back.  Many of the older members of the Naxi tribe wear these jackets daily

Traditional Naxi women's clothing, with embroidered detail on the back.  Many of the older members of the Naxi tribe wear these jackets daily

Close up of a vintage Miao dress jacket that I purchased.  With beautiful hand embroidery and fastenings.  Some of these were selling for £400!

Close up of a vintage Miao dress jacket that I purchased.  With beautiful hand embroidery and fastenings.  Some of these were selling for £400!

Newly produced clothing from the Miao minority, the cross stitching is done by hand but is quick to produce.  It is typical to find this embroidery detail on the hem of a batik print garments like this one

Newly produced clothing from the Miao minority, the cross stitching is done by hand but is quick to produce.  It is typical to find this embroidery detail on the hem of a batik print garments like this one

 
Me wearing a new Maio batik jacket.  The pink trim on the neckline is embroidered

Me wearing a new Maio batik jacket.  The pink trim on the neckline is embroidered

 

The reason why I loved Baisha so much was mostly down to the pure creativity and skill of the people that lived there.  Seeing textiles of this level really inspired me to want to get making and using my hands.  An amazing quality of the Chinese is that they work so hard, regardless of everything else they get on with whatever they put their minds to and get the job done.  Whether that be selling, building a new home, or producing beautiful textiles like these ones, they are brilliant at working quickly and efficiently, and some are incredibly skilled.  

I feel so privileged to have spent so much time looking at these exquisite pieces of antique fabric, to me they really demonstrate Chinese minority embroidery and textiles at it's finest.

 

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10 Epic Photos Of China

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China is an impressive country and one so varied it’s difficult to try and summarise it in only 10 photos.  But picking our favourites is one job in running a blog so here it is. You will quickly spot that most of our favourite snaps explore China’s expansive landscapes. From the snowy peaks of the Tibetan border to the neon clad temples of the modern cities, China is all about contrasts! Grab a cuppa, or a noodle soup, and observe our 10 epic photos of China...

 

1. Yubeng

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There is one spot that will forever be one of our favourite places in the world. Let us introduce Yubeng, a place where photographs don’t do justice. We entered in early December as the first snow was falling and there were only a few tourists who made it up to this sacred valley. Trekking Upper and Lower Yubeng got us as close to Tibet as we could afford and it’s only made us more excited about visiting the gated birth place of Buddhism. Without sounding like a classic traveller, it was really spiritual.


 

2. Huangshan Mountain

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Although the Yellow Mountains are one of the most well trodden national parks in China, it can’t be denied that if weather sides with you the peaks are truly stunning. We were told that Huangshan only gets 50 days of sunrises, sun and sunsets; raining the rest of year. So with that in mind we felt pretty privileged to have 4 days of complete sunshine, rises and sunsets. This photo was taken in the Huangshan Grand Canyon on our first night. Wow the colours were exceptionally deep in colour, changing every few minutes before the darkness fell. It didn’t matter that we were joined by 200 other people, that sunset was the best of the whole trip (so far.)


 

3. The Great Wall

 
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What would a trip to China be without a trek on the Great Wall? We set our sights on the deteriorating Jiankou section which, while crumbling away, did offer us access to 3 days on a vast unpopulated section of wall just north of Beijing. It’s one of the worlds wonders and being able to traverse the ancient stonework was very satisfying. Just look at it, a huge defensive structure that failed on the battlefield but left such an impact on the world through the sheer man power that built it. Remember, it can’t be seen from space as it’s smaller than most roads!


 

4. Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter 

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We love food, which is lucky because when you’re a long term traveller because it’s one of the only things we can afford to indulge in. I mean, a person's got to eat right? Enter Xi’an, a place with one of our favourite food streets in the world. The Muslim quarter is an area of Xi’an with mosques, restaurants and shops that continue a long lineage of Muslim culture dating back to the very start of the Silk Road. But let’s talk about the food, there’s so much variety in the ingredients, cooking processes and skill that you have to imagine hundreds of foods: artisans baking, bbq’ing, smashing, frying, freezing most of China’s indigenous ingredients on a bustling street, apparently UNESCO are in process of giving it extra some leverage too. Our favourite food? Milk and egg soup, sweet, salty and enhanced by some middle eastern magic, delicious.


 

5. Baisha

 
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This is not an obvious choice because only a few people would have heard of Baisha. It’s a small mountainside village that specialises in the craft of embroidery. Ali was in her element here as you can see from this photo as she wore a locals outfit proudly down the high street. We meant to stay in Baisha just a night but that quickly turned into a week, it was so relaxing and the people were so kind, it felt like home.


 

6. Feilai Si

 
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Little explanation needed here, you are looking at the Miancimu peak, the second highest mountain of the Meili Snow mountain range in north west Yunnan, Tibet can be found just behind it. We got up at 6am to watch the sun shine brightly on this peak and this was our favourite shot of the morning. If you ever travel to Yubeng make sure you see a sunrise in Feilai Si.


 

7. Xi’an 

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You couldn’t visit China and not witness a traditional temple. Unfortunately the cultural revolution of the 60s meant that many of China’s stunning temples and monasteries were destroyed. This was an authentic temple modernised with neon lights that make the structure even more dramatic. It’s the iconic Chinese image and one you will see again and again in pictures. It’s so much more breathtaking in real life. We hope this photo does it some justice.


 

8. Dali 

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This photograph symbolises adventuring off the beaten track with the best way being by bicycle or moped. All across China we rented bikes to get out of the cities and towns and explore rural China. Here is Mark on a lane connecting Dali and Lake Erhai, the third largest lake in the country. It’s always good to get away from China’s tourism and renting a bike is the best way to do that.


 

 9. Zhangjiajie

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Although Zhangjiajie was our biggest disappointment after we fought monkeys, flu and fog, we did get this photograph of Ali’s glowing locks against the monolithic Zhangjiajie canyon in the mist. In a way the drab weather we faced made it even more memorable for its sombre tones rather than the brash glowing yellow rocks you’ll see on the internet. We would love to go back and see this national park with better weather but until then we will have funny memories of this place.


 

10. Upper Yubeng 

 
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On day two of our trip in Yubeng we ventured up to a frozen lake found at 4km above sea level. It was cold, slippery but incredibly beautiful. A calm solemn place that is visited by Buddhist pilgrims who walk around the lake 3 times clockwise. If you wait long enough a small avalanches drifts from the glacier above and in that moment time stops as you watch.

 

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China: Top Things To Do In Dali

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Dali, the old hippy haven famous for its chilled out attitude and atmospheric beauty.  Set against the stunning backdrop of the ChanShan mountain range, the ancient city is surrounded by endless fields of growing produce and the mysterious ErHai lake. 

The stunning ChanShan mountains by Dali

The stunning ChanShan mountains by Dali

Although Dali has changed in recent years and is now well on the radar of the youthful Chinese tourists, there is still peace to be found in this little town and lots of back alleys to be explored besides of the main shopping strip.  On a visit to Dali six years ago, we fell in love with the place and have the fondest memories of relaxed cafe culture, fresh water streams running through the cobbled lanes, and the beautiful Bai-style architecture that runs throughout the city.  

Lots of its mountain village charm still remains, but it is fast becoming a major hub for shopping for the Chinese and the prices do reflect the rise in tourism.  We still think it’s worth a visit though, and it’s arguably still more chilled out then the neighbouring Lijiang.  We have put together our recommendations from 6 days spent in Dali Ancient City...

 

Admire The Wood Workers Street

After visiting Dali in 2011, we were anxious that the ancient town would have changed beyond recognition like the rest of rapidly evolving China.  So the first place we headed for was the carpenters street we had admired such a long time ago.  Just south of the old town lies Wenxian Road, a strip of wood working studios where furniture is elaborately carved by Chinese masters.  We were elated to see that many of the studios still exist, and all manner of wooden items are still being carefully constructed from shutters to doors, and desks to cabinets.  Watching these guys work is a joy to see, many craftsmen and women are hand carving from hardwoods using a whole range of chisels and files to get the perfect finish.  The detailing is exquisite, and there is just so much of it.  We can’t help thinking that this must be a dying art form because it would take so much skill and time to do it.  This level of quality would never happen at home because it would be far too expensive! If you are into handicrafts and woodwork then we would thoroughly recommend a wonder down this street.  From the South Gate of Dali old town, take Wenxian Road and keep walking south for 5-10 minutes. 

Hand-carved wooden furniture in Dali

Hand-carved wooden furniture in Dali

 

Eat Authentic Rice Noodles 

We got a tip off from our hostel that this restaurant serves delicious rice noodle soup and charges tourists the same price as the locals.  For those backpackers on a budget, this is what we love to hear!  For the bargain price of 10 yuan (£1.12) for a large and 8 yuan (90p) for a small, you can get yourself a delicious bowl of homemade rice noodles in broth with pork, vegetables, spring onions, parsley, garlic oil, Sichuan pepper oil, soy, chilli, and chopped peanuts.  It’s fresh, it’s zingy, it’s spicy and you can top up your seasonings as much as you want! You pretty much won’t find a cheaper lunch or dinner in town.  The noodle shop is situated on Yu'er Road a couple of minutes walk west of Dongyu street, and is called 'Qing Shi Qiao'.

Delicious hand-made rice noodles 

Delicious hand-made rice noodles 

 

Eat Baba Sweet Bread

After spending 2 whole months in China, this culinary discovery was our ultimate favourite.  Imagine a freshly made buttery and doughy flat bread charred on a smokey bbq with a gooey jam and rose petal sugar centre? Mmm......! If you’re salivating as much as we are then you are going to LOVE this delightful sweet bread. Bite into a lightly crunchy outside to find a soft doughy centre oozing with sugary goodness.  It’s really naughty, but probably one of the most delicious baked goods we have ever eaten, ever.  After tasting this bread, we’re not sure how we’re going to live a life without it.  To find them, look amongst the street foods on the main strip (Remin Road) in Dali Ancient City for a round flat bread in a display case. Take note that some are sweet and some are savoury, so with meat.  If you are heading to Xizhou then you are likely to find one there in the centre of town, and it’s bbq’ed to perfection!  It’s totally worth a visit just to taste this bread.

Baba sweet bread after being cooked on the fire

Baba sweet bread after being cooked on the fire

 

Stroll Along The Mountain Pass

Looking for a scenic stroll around the Dali area? Well look no further then the mountain pass that connects Zhonghe Temple with Gantong Temple.  The stretch is flat and paved for 11km which makes it a very leisurely stroll, and winds nicely around the edge of the CangShan mountain range.  From there you can see a hazy view of ErHai lake, Dali old town and the surrounding villages that scatter the large valley.   Getting up to the route from Dali ancient city is relatively straight forward, just exit out of the West Gate and make your way up to Zhonghe Temple, following the route on maps me or google maps.  The path can be a bit steep in places although it is still very manageable.  Keep walking on past the temple and onto a flat paved path, take a left when you get there and follow the signs towards Gantong cablecar and continue on until you get to Qingbi stream. From there, there is a path all the way down to Gantong temple and Gantong mountain gate, where you can either take a cab back to Dali old town, or get to the main road and either walk back or flag down one of the buses.  We paid 10 yuan each for a cab share back to the old town.  The whole walk took us only the morning and we were back by 1pm.

The view on the walk from Zhonghe Temple to Gangton Temple

The view on the walk from Zhonghe Temple to Gangton Temple

 

Cycle To Erhai Lake

Dali has become somewhat of a tourist trap in recent years, and although that’s ok for some of the time, it’s nice to leave the town and head into the countryside around it.  The second biggest lake in China can be found only kilometres away from Dali, and scattered around it in the valley is a mixture of old villages, crops fields and minority cultures.  Locals smile as you cycle past as they continue on with their daily lives.  A nice cycling route would be to head east out of East Gate and keep on going until you reach the town of Caicun by the water.  From there you can do a windy route north along the back roads following the signs for ‘west ring road’ all the way up to Jinguisi where you can then head west to the town of Xizhou.  The ring road is quite developed in places, and locals set up their stalls along the way hoping to sell a trinket or two to the tourists that pass.  A day on the bike can be really fun, and as you cycle along the sometimes bumpy gravel paths, you see many Chinese tourists riding along on rented scooters with plastic flowers in their hair looking all ‘hippy’, or hippy in a contrived ASOS kind of way.  There are hilarious sections by the water that have been set up for photo shoots and selfies (which has gone down a treat with the Chinese tourists), look out for the clear plastic bubble chairs and red heart props.  After you escape these weird built up sections there can be nothing but dirt tracks, little villages and the peace that surrounds ErHai lake.  If you make time to break away from the ring road, there is a lot of nature to be seen here, including many species of bird, plants and the stunning CangShan mountain range.  There are many places to rent bikes in Dali, expect to pay around 20-30 yuan (£2.25-£3.38) for a days hire.

Cycling in one of the ancient villages around ErHai Lake

Cycling in one of the ancient villages around ErHai Lake

 

Eat Treats From The Local Bakery

All backpackers on a budget know that the best way to get a good deal on tasty food is to watch where the locals go.  Well that’s exactly what we did in Dali and found ourselves an amazing bakery at really low prices.  The display shelves are stacked with tons of tasty baked goods from cookies to cakes, bread rolls to pastries.  We have somewhat been impressed with China’s baking skills, and nearly everything we tried over 2 months of being there was delicious and freshly made that day.  This bakery was the same, and the most brilliant thing about it is that the price is done by weight.  So just fill up your bag with the light stuff and pay peanuts! We opted for a sponge cake (which was honestly about the size of a small birthday cake), a large custard pastry and about 4 small cookies to munch on later, and all of that came to 7 yuan (79p)! What a bargain.  The bakery is situated near the Yincang Rd and Bo’ed Rd crossover.

The baked goods in question....

The baked goods in question....

 

Get A Massage

You can’t come to the laid-back town of Dali without treating yourself to a massage.  Dali has been known for some time as the hippy expat capital of Yunnan and travellers have been coming here for decades to soak up the chilled out lifestyle of bars, cafes and the incredible natural scenery.  How better to relax into this culture other than to get a massage in one of the local salons.  The cheapest one we found was 88 yuan (£9.90) for 1 hour 20 mins which included a foot soak, an oil foot massage and a full body local massage (through clothes).  It was actually pretty good, although we always find that many environments in China aren’t particularly relaxing, what with a kid running round hitting the massagers as they were trying to work! Be prepared for some firm hands also, particularly with the cheaper local massages.  You probably get what you pay for.  There are many massage parlours on Bo’ed Road in Dali ancient city.

Mark waiting for his massage in one of the local parlours.  You can see the kid in the background waiting for his moment to strike!

Mark waiting for his massage in one of the local parlours.  You can see the kid in the background waiting for his moment to strike!

 

Drink The Cheapest Beer On Remin Road

This is the main strip in Dali and tourists flock here to shop, sip coffee in fancy coffee shops and drink cocktails in bars.  Well we love a cheeky drink every now and again too, but what with being budget travellers sometimes touristy bars are totally out of our price range.  A small beer in one of the bars here would normally set you back around 20 yuan (£2.25) for the cheapest one, but we figured out a way to drink on the main strip without paying more than 6 yuan (70p) for a large beer.  Just head to one of the cheap cafe style eateries, they are the open front Chinese rice kitchens with basic decor inside, grab a cheap beer from the fridge and sit out front and watch the world go by.  This is a great way of soaking up the atmosphere, and the sun, without breaking the budget.  We did this several times on our visit!

Grab a cheap beer on the main strip that is Remin Road

Grab a cheap beer on the main strip that is Remin Road

 

Eat A Serendipity Burger

It’s not often that we eat western food on the road, and as we have discovered it is nearly always overpriced compared to the local alternative which is mostly very tasty.  Western food can be very hit and miss (mostly a miss to be honest), and to make sure we were picking a well reviewed burger place we decided to look on the loved/hated Trip Advisor.  Out of 7 burger joints in Dali, Serendipity has made it to no. 1 and we can easily see why.  Each burger is made using good quality beef, cooked medium rare, with a homemade sweet brioche bun and whatever topping you choose.  Each comes with a pickle and handful of fries.  Not the biggest portion but definitely the biggest treat!  We would recommend heading on down for a laid-back dinner in the diner style restaurant or on one of the tables outside.  A burger will set you back 55 yuan (£6.20), a little steep but we think worth the splash out.  You can find Serendipity at 53 Guangwu Lu.

A Serendipity burger

A Serendipity burger

 

Stay At A Rooftop Hostel

One of the coolest things about the accommodation in Dali is that loads of the hostels and guesthouses have rooftop spaces.  From there you can glimpse the impending CangShan mountain range and the beautiful Bai-style oriental architecture of the surrounding buildings.  You may just spot a few other lucky ones doing the same thing.  Being up so high makes you feel detached from the Dali below, the busyness fades away and you are left with the tranquility of the sun gleaming on the plant-lined terraces.  We stayed in the Meet Inn Hostel for the bargain price of 98 yuan (£11) per night, and the hostel itself was well decorated and had a nice relaxed feel to it.  Catching a sunrise or sunset on the terrace is a must, and maybe a few hours spent chilling reading a book is a great way to unwind from China’s tourist hotspots.  

The view from our rooftop hostel at the Meet Inn

The view from our rooftop hostel at the Meet Inn

 

All You Can Eat At The Vegetarian Buffet

Most dishes in China involve some sort of meat, whether that be pork in a noodle broth or a meaty stir fry with seasoning, and so when we found this vegetarian restaurant serving an all you can eat buffet for lunch and dinner we were very excited.  For the unbelievable price of 20 yuan (£2.25) per person, you can munch your way through a whole range of speciality vegetarian dishes: from 5 different types of tofu to slow cooked aubergine, and steamed Chinese buns to seasoned fried rice.  There are about 20 different dishes to choose from and they change on a daily basis.  We ate there for lunch 2 days in a row and it actually worked out cheaper than most of our meals in local rice kitchens and you also get a whole lot more variety on your plate.  If you are looking for some fresh and tasty vegetarian food then this is the place for you. The restaurant is called Lovely Lotus Delicious Vegetarian and can be found at B2-1 Jiulongju, Fuxing Rd.

All you can eat vegetarian buffet at Lovely Lotus Delicious Vegetarian

All you can eat vegetarian buffet at Lovely Lotus Delicious Vegetarian

 

Get Into Dali Life

This is by no means a complete list of everything you can do in Dali but they are the things that we enjoyed the most.  All are suited to those backpacking on a budget.  There is also the famous Three Pagodas that you can visit by bike or foot and many popular bars on the main strip, but for us the bars were a bit out of our price range for both food and drink.  We enjoyed dining in the rice and noodle kitchens on the side roads where the locals were eating, and at the end of our trip to China these were some of our fondest memories. 

 

Transport

You can reach Dali by train or bus from Kunming and Lijiang. It’s worth noting that the old town is called Dali Ancient City and that Dali is the modern part of the city just south of there where most of the transport links go to.  If you do get a train into Dali then it will drop you off in the modern city and you will have to get a bus into the old town.  If travelling from Lijiang by bus, you can ask to be dropped off in the old town.

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VIDEO

Why not watch travel video from our Dali?

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We hope you found this helpful! If there is anything you enjoyed doing on your trip to Dali then let us know, we would love to hear about it.

 

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China - Top Things To Do In Dali, by Studio Mali
 

 

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Video: Kunming, Lijiang, Baisha & Dali

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This is the last video we’ve put together from our visit to China and it covers some of our favourite places from the country. As you can see we enjoyed a lot of food, cycling and pottering around the ancient towns and cities of the Yunnan province. These are a must-visit for anyone coming to China! 

We hope you enjoy the video and feel inspired to come visit someday...

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Video: Tiger Leaping Gorge

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This will always be one of our favourite ever treks and the one that almost got away. We tried to climb it in 2011 but mudslides stopped that, we’d need to wait another 6 years. Luckily 2017 proved more fruitful as the weather was sunny, we had good company and the gorge was as stunning as we’d hoped. Watch our little travel video below:

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Getting arty in Yunnan, China

Getting arty in Yunnan, China

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At the foot of the enormous Jade Dragon Snow Mountain sits the ancient town of Baisha, a little haven of friendly locals, minority culture and exquisite textiles.  We spent a week here, basking in the autumn sunshine, strolling the cobbled streets and chatting with smiling Baisha-folk.  After all of China's intensity and busyness, Baisha was the ultimate chill out destination and immediately it felt like home.  

With plenty of time on our hands and some art materials we picked up on the way, we pitched up in a nearby field and decided to get sketching!  To be perfectly honest, we don't spend very much time drawing these days, and so a little creative challenge whilst on the road can only be good for us.  One of things that we love about travelling is that you get time to do things like this and we are always visiting places where the landscapes are just sublime.  How can you resist taking an hour out to draw these magical mountains?!

Just take a look at the backdrop for our sketch session and the artworks that followed.....

The stunning view for our still life session: The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

The stunning view for our still life session: The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Mark working on his sketch using expressive strokes and inky washes....

Mark working on his sketch using expressive strokes and inky washes....

The final presentation!  After 45 minutes of ink to paper this is what Mark came up with....

The final presentation!  After 45 minutes of ink to paper this is what Mark came up with....

.... and Ali showing off her heavy black lines.

.... and Ali showing off her heavy black lines.

Mark's final artwork - moody with linear shapes contouring the landscape.  A combination of ink, black fine liner and pencil.

Mark's final artwork - moody with linear shapes contouring the landscape.  A combination of ink, black fine liner and pencil.

Ali's final artwork - deep contrasts, bold strokes and negative space.  Using only black ink and water.

Ali's final artwork - deep contrasts, bold strokes and negative space.  Using only black ink and water.

We had a really relaxing time painting the mountain scenery, it's not like we have a view like this everyday.  Sometimes we can forget how nice it is to put pen to paper and remembering that it's not always about the outcome, but about taking enjoyment from the process of drawing.  We value being close to nature, and this was the perfect activity taking a moment to look at what's around us in detail.  The lesson for us is to draw more often and spend a little longer taking in the environments around us!

 

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The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain: A Sketch Session
 

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