Monday 11 Sep
Toilets, ganga and some chillaxed time in Dali
Before I say anything else to you tonight, I need to discuss toilets. Now I know that this is not the type of thing one discusses in polite company but if anyone has done some real travelling before they will know that toilets and even 'toilet business' becomes not only a 'no longer taboo' topic but rather a focal point for many a discussion. Jay, my sis in law will understand my horror at the discovery of the toilets in Yunnan Province (where we are now). No longer are we having to contend with hole in floor toilets with low doors, the toilets here actually have NO doors. That is right my good friends - NO BLOODY DOORS. And the toilet parts are actually just troughs - with no flushing mechanisms (see pic for proof). It is only because of our keeping especially good karma and being kind to all man and beast that the heavens have spared us having to do a number 2. You all know what I am talking about here. Can you just imagine....? There was even a sign on our restaurant door tonight - 'Only pee, no poo'. I have only one word for these people - DOORS!!!!
Right - now that I have said my piece - back to the trip. We left the luxury and kindness of Sas and Dan in HK, thanks again guys you were a slice of heaven after having visited Stanley Bay, the Murray building ( D & S will be impressed), Repulse Bay etc on a severe hangover which was slightly eased by some excellent Bloody Marys. We also met up with Andrew's Uncle PJ (who just happened to be in HK at the same time) the night before we left for a meal fit for a king (PJ was paying ) and met his beautiful girlfriend Anna. PJ used to be Consul General of HK and Ambassador for SA in Singapore so his views and memoirs were fascinating.
After 7 modes of transport and 12 hours later we arrived in Dali which is a quaint little town where we stayed at the gorgeous Jim's Tibetan Guest House. It was very 'chillaxed' - Jim's no.1 special was consumed (a weird concoction of lots of alcohol, ginseng and unknown bits and pieces) which promised to ward off everything... has worked so far! For the first time in China we were offered ganga by some rather traditional looking mothers who held out necklaces and ask you loudly to buy whilst subtly leaning in and whispering 'ganga, ganga...' Of course we said 'no'.
We hired bikes and rode down to Erhai Lake and up to the 3 Pagodas (where we were a bit tight and refused to pay the 120 yuan entry and took pics over the wall) - not exactly the same thing, but needed to save some money after all the excesses. More excesses to come - 25 GBP on postage and 350 GBP on Tibet flights and permits. It turns out Chinese bureaucracy is not only annoying, but also rather expensive!
Decided to move on to Lijiang rather that stay in Dali as we want to start on our acclimatisation as early as possible. Not to alarm the parents but where we are going in Tibet (Everest Base Camp at 5200m) requires a little bit of planning to ensure our brains don't explode and our lungs don't drown...