The town of Dali is situated between the mountains and Ear Lake where the locals can only fish between March & October due to its pollution levels. It’s called Ear Lake because it is in the shape of, you guessed it, an ear.
The town, and the neighbouring village of Xizhou, gently wake up with the dawn. People start to go about their business, collecting together in the parks and stirring around the market stalls.
Traditional houses, run by the government, are open to the public to remind locals and visitors what the past was like.
Chong Seng Temple is over 1,000 years old. It is the home to the Three Pagodas and countless other smaller structures. Yes, the outside pagodas lean as you see them. With the mountains as a backdrop the temple grounds provide space for relaxation and reflection.
Dali’s walls and gates were first built in 768. Today 60,000 people live within its boundary and service the touristy trap and high quality tat shops on its pedestrianised, cobbled streets. It seems highly unlikely but up to 40 million tourists are said to visit this place every year. I’ll be pleased to take my leave and get somewhere a bit more sincere and authentic.