Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Dali, China - and the theme park experience of Chinese tourism

Our hostel
From Kunming we drove on to a place called Dali.  There are two Dalis, an old and a new one, both set around the edge of Lake Er Hai.  We were at the old one.  One of our fellow passengers had been here six years ago and said back then, the old town was run down, with few shops and few tourists, but lots of rubbish in the streets.

These days the town still has some old buildings, but there are newer buildings too.  The town has cleaned up its litter and has far more shops, bars and cafes catering to the new influx of tourists.  Most of the tourists are Chinese, but the westerners are coming too, so there are plenty of opportunities to eat and drink western style.  Most of the loos are still just the holes in the ground though.

The plan here was to go to see the cormorant fishing, where the locals use a cormorant to catch their fish by putting a ring around their necks, which allows them to eat the small fish, but not the larger ones.  Unfortunately we weren't able to go, but as it turns out, our fellow passengers that did go were a bit disappointed as rather than being able to spend time watching a group of genuine fishermen, what they saw was one fisher, almost certainly there just for the tourist groups, make a single catch.  Not really what any of us wanted.

Sadly, based on a couple of our own experiences and some comments from those who have been in China longer, it does feel a little like China is doing a lot of this.  They seem to take a genuine experience or sight, and make it into cleaned up tourist version.  So the cormorant fishing becomes just a display, and the Stone Forest gets paved pathways, manicured lawns and golf buggies.

This seems to be what the Chinese visitors want - a kind of theme park experience, where they can whizz around all the sights quickly and quite superficially.  We'd prefer to see the real thing and take a bit longer doing so.

Still, we did discover a liking for Lao dark beer.

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