From Dali of Yunnan on Bike

created: 2010-06-04

Dali City in south China's Yunnan Province has long been a favorite escape for independent travelers, whether they are running away from the maddening crowds or themselves. Among the new generation of backpackers, touring Dali on bike has become an emerging trend.

The most-traveled route is the 40-mile journey from Dali to Xizhou Township along provincial road No. 221. Second to this choice is riding on the deserted old national road, No. 214.

Hoping for adventure, we decided to take road No. 214. Without much traffic, all you can see is patches after patches of green fields and clusters of farmhouses. Seduced by the idyllic scenery, my friend and I stopped several times at the roadside villages. The local farmers were unexpectedly accommodating. At this leisurely pace, it took nearly four hours for us to get to the next stop - Xizhou Township.

Facing Erhai Lake to the east and embraced by Cangshan Mountain to the west, Xizhou is a historical township attracting visitors not only with its entrancing landscape, but also with its Bai ethnic minority culture.

Departing Dali after a short sightseeing tour, we headed for Shuanglang, a lesser-known village 30 miles from Xizhou. The road leading to Shuanglang follows Erhai Lake, and the mesmerizing scenery made us almost forget the tiredness from hours of riding.

The sun was beginning to set when we arrived at Shuanglang. With few tourists visiting the place, Shuanglang is still relatively undiscovered. We were lucky enough to catch the local fair, when all the farmers and fishermen gather at the market, selling the freshest vegetables and local delicacies. If you ever have the chance to come here, don't miss the excitement. After two idle days spent in Shuanglang, we continued our journey.

Thirteen miles from Shuanglang is Wase, another small village. We hardly came across any passengers on the road. Occasionally we would hear the laughter of children playing in the shallow waters of Erhai Lake. The serenity of the place took hold of us throughout the journey. The fishermen were just closing the nets when we arrived at Wase. Silently watching them take stock of the various fish and shrimp glittering under the morning sunshine, we felt an enormous sense of gratitude at being there.

Though our trip ended in Wase, we know there are many other places in Dali worth exploring. To many travelers like us, Dali will linger as a comforting memory long after returning from the escape.


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