Dali, new and old combined.
Rebuilt exactly as it was after an earthquake in 1999, even down to channeling the stream down the street and digging the well.
It just goes to show what can be achieved in an authoritarian state when minds are made up.
There's no need for me to write a great deal about the town as it's just a tourist mecca of quaint buildings and souvenir shops etc.
But, it does have a nice feel to it. One of my friends said that he and his girlfriend went there for two days and stayed two weeks. Another said that he went for 3 days and stayed for a month.
I'm not sure it would have that much of an effect upon me though. I stayed for 3 nights and walked around town, eating at street cafes and making a new pen pal of an English major student selling cakes to tourists!
Originally bounded on all four sides by a city wall with heavily fortified gates, there remains only a small section that is recognisable. It must once have been an impressive town to enter with the walls about 10 metres wide. 
I met a young American called Max in the hostel and we decided to take a hike up the mountain to the west of Dali. Setting off early to avoid the heat we tramped up countless stairs that zigzagged their way up through the trees until we reached the "cloud path". This path wound its way around the mountain into valleys and across bridges for about 8 or 9 miles. We had intended to catch the cable car from the cloud path to the top of the mountain but the map we had been given showed the car to the north when it is actually to the south. Therefore we ended up walking the entire length of the path, passing just one walker coming the other way. The scenery and the views were spectacular and although my legs were aching like they have never done before the walk was fantastic.
Back to Dali for an evening eating at a street cafe, which was little more than an oversized kitchen run by an old couple who sat outside waiting for us to finish before clearing away the dishes and closing up for the night.
With so much to see but nothing much to write about I am keeping this blog post short and sweet. Dali has a very pleasant feel to the town even if it is overrun by domestic tourists coming to see the Bai and Yi minorities at work. From here I am going to ride around the mountain to the west of the city and then head north to Lijiang. Another tourist hotspot but from what I have heard even more worth the trek. It's going to be a lot of climbing to get there by the route I am taking, so off for an early night now. Bye

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