****I WILL BE ADDING CAPTIONS LATER BUT AT THE MOMENT IT'S FIVE AM AND DESPITE WHAT YOU MAY HAVE HEARD ABOUT ME I'M NOT COMPLETELY NOCTURNAL - MORE DETAILS WILL HERE SOON****
Around Dali 古城 (Old Town)
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For the first few weeks just walking down the street was a bit of an adventure in the Old town! Even though the layout is in fact quite a simple grid I did spend a lot of time getting lost... not that it's necessarily a bad thing if you have enough time (and a sketchpad). As the name implies a lot of the buildings are ancient, hundreds and in some cases thousands of years old - the timber frames and decorations can be surprisingly well preserved. With Erhai Lake to the east, mountains to the west and a vibrant melting pot of local cultures in between, I like to think there's a kind of fresh and energised quality to the atmosphere. Well whatever it is, it definitely agrees with me and the thousands of tourists who visit throughout the year~
Various other places...
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While I spend most of my time in the Old town, I'm also wandering around other places. As a lot of you will know already I'm taking a part time Mandarin language course at Dali University ( 大理大学), the campus itself is stunning since it's set right at the foot of the mountains - an excellent place to study outside. About 24km to the south is the city of Xiaguan, which conveniently has a Walmart where can I stock up on chocolate digestives... (I do a lot of cycling)
Out in the countryside
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Every week I go out with the team to the villages on the edge of the lake, where we have several ongoing projects. The communities out there are still very much agricultural and are part of the Bai ethnicity, who have their own local gods, respective temples and separate language. The work we do out there is quite varied from simply helping out in the fields, to visiting some of the elderly and running clubs for the children. It's fascinating to find out about the local history and customs from the people living there, since it all goes a long way back - I think I learn something new nearly each time I visit.
The windy season is about to descend, with gales strong enough to pick up a cabin - so I'm told. From now on I'll try to post a uh...bit more regularly. There are plenty of things coming up soon, so until next time!