Arriving in Dali was a fantastic sight – our first taste of ‘old china’. We caught a bus for at least 40 minutes before arriving in the old town area. 5 Minutes walk and we arrived at our pre-booked hostel The Jade Emu where we would be staying in a 4 person dorm.
We spent the day walking the maze of streets and relaxing. We stopped in at Mad Monkey Bar as we had been told they brew their own beer – so we just had to give them a taste test. Whilst there we were told they do a Sunday night roast dinner so we put our names down and told theme we would be back at 7pm. Then it was back to the hostel for a much-needed shower and change of clothes.
Arriving back at Bad Monkey we were served a delicious pate of Pork Roast and vegetables complete with yorkshire pudding and gravy. We shared one roast between two as they were rather large but it tasted so good we really could have had one each. After dinner we got talking to a guy from Kunming who was visiting his friend. He asked us if we wanted to head to his hotel next door for some jagermister shots …. of course Duane just couldn’t resist! Next thing we know it 1am and we have spent the night getting to know our new friends. Time to head home for some much-needed sleep.
The following morning was spent deciding on our ‘must do’ activities for our 3 night stay. We came across Climb Dali which is run by American guy Adam who lives in Dali with his wife and child and who has set up rock climbing and cycling tours. We had considered rock climbing for the first time back in Thailand but never managed to find the time so we decided to take the bull by the horns and give it a go. We locked in a 2 day tour including a 45km cycle around lake Erhai with a nights accommodation and a half day of rock climbing. After visiting Adam to try on climbing shoes and sort a departure time for the following morning we headed to our local dumpling shop which we had found the previous day for lunch and couldn’t get enough of where we got 24 steamed dumplings for $2! – Delicious, cheap and healthy dinner.
The following day we relaxed and checked out of Jade Emu and booked a double room for our return at their partner hostel The Jade Roo where we booked a double room for just 60CNY due to being given 50% off because there was construction within the hostel.
At 1pm we met Adam at his place and headed off in sprinkling rain on our bikes for the 45km cycle to the small village we would be staying at that evening.
The cycle was amazing, through small villages, windy roads and past locals going about their day-to-day business. After 30km we were stuffed but it was head down and through gritted teeth we made it. Arriving at the top of the last hill and looking out over the view below was such a perfect moment and will be ingrained in our memory for a long time to come.
Exhausted, sweaty and tired we arrived at Sky and Sea Lodge in Dajianpang village on Erhai Lake where we were staying in a tent with the most amazing view. While we settled in Adam (who speaks fluent chinese) ordered us huge, delicious dinner – just what the doctor ordered.
After dinner we went for a short walk before realising we were getting lost in the maze of streets that all looked the same. We made our way back and relaxed with a fresh juice. All we wanted was an ice-cold beer but we were so physically exhausted we just couldn’t do it. It was an early night as we headed to bed around 8:30pm absolutely exhausted and perfectly happy.
Up early the next day, and ready to give rock climbing a go. We walked for about 45 minutes after breakfast and as we came up to the wall Adam started to explain that he had put the bolts in the wall and had climbed here thousands of times before. A chinese couple joined us for the day and they were beginners too so it was great.
The view from the climbing wall was spectacular and looked back over the lake and across to Dali.
We started to put our harnesses on as Adam and Niv started to run the first lot of ropes. Shoes on Helmet on and rope tied to the harness, “Up Ya Go” Adam says. Duane started his first ever climb and went up the wall so fast it was like he had done it before. Once at the top Duane found it extremely hard to just let go and sit back in the harness, so it took him some time to get back down. He wanted to climb down, which is just not how you do it.
Kim’s turn and it started out a little slower but as she worked out how things work she got quicker. Kim got to the top in no time and just fell into the harness and came down like a pro.
After climbing 2-3 routes our arms started to get sore; after the 3rd climb kim’s feet gave up on her and she just couldn’t climb any more, but she was happy with that cos she had achieved so much more than she thought she could. The last route was a bit harder than the rest. But Duane still managed to concur it. With some rain coming in fast we packed up and started our walk back down to the village for some lunch.
Over lunch we talked about how cool it was to get to the top and loving the challenge of doing something new. We were buzzing and kept talking about climbing again.
Arriving back in Dali after a 30 minutes van ride we picked up our bags and headed for our room and the shower, then to relax for the afternoon. The next day we packed our bags and headed to Dali town to catch the train to Lijiang. The train to Lijiang is only 3 hours so we didn’t try to book we just headed to the station in hope we cold get on.
So we got our tickets and from the price we thought we must have got the hard seat instead of the soft seat we had asked for. In the waiting room it was crazy with people everywhere, we looking at each other and asking “Are all these people going to Lijiang??”
The gates open and the crowd just started to run, so we walked a little quicker than normal. We get on the train and there are no hard seats, no soft seat, there were no seats at all; there must have been three people to one seat. Duane put our bags up and started to climb up onto the top bunk, Great he thought all the room in the world, then the cabin staff came through and started yelling and saying pay more to be up there. Kim had found a tiny plastic stool and had jammed herself into the corner. Duane had to climb down and find somewhere to stand for the next two and a half hours.
Travellers Tip: We highly recommend Adam from Climb Dali. He is experienced, professional and really knows his stuff. If you’ve never climbed and want to give it a go – call Adam. If your experienced and want to climb in Dali – Call Adam. There are a wide range of routes setup in Dali ranging from the complete beginner to extremely advanced.