After just one day in Kunming, we were off to Dali so we wouldn’t miss the annual Third Moon Fair. Turns out all we would have missed was lots of PETA violations. Baby chicks dyed neon colors, turtles piled on top of each other in little cages (pretty sure these weren’t being sold as pets) and, worst of all, the racehorses with permanent sores on their flanks from the use of riding crops. This last point meant that despite two trips to the track and waiting around for hours for the races to begin (we were given lots of conflicting starting times), we left after one race because we felt too sorry for the horses. Oh, well.
Minus the festival, Dali is a stunning city – nestled between majestic mountains and a glimmering lake, its moody weather lends the city a rather otherworldly vibe. This vibe might also have something to do with the wrinkled old ladies wandering the streets selling drugs. They look so harmless when they approach under the guise of selling silver jewelry but it doesn’t take long for them to lean in and whisper, “You want ganja?” Seriously, the older and more wrinkled the lady, the more likely she was to offer us drugs.
We also made a trip to the famous three pagodas (some of the oldest standing structures in southwest China) but decided a couple of pictures from the main gate would suffice since forking over an entrance fee that was more than our nightly hotel room bill seemed a bit unnecessary.