Day 43: September 3rd
After two days of not really doing much, we decided to visit one of Dali’s most famous sights today.
We still had Emily(from the old gang) and Sonya, a French backpacker with us today. We decided to walk to the old town and rent bicycles for the day and then cycle up to the three pagodas.
It took me test riding five bikes before I found one that didn’t have a flat tyre or one who’s gears worked before we finally set off. The bike was in pretty lousy shape as the chain came off three more times before we even got to our destination… which was only less than 3 km away.
Dali is pretty hilly and at a fairly high altitude.. so even though the distance was short, we were getting a decent workout.
The three pagodas is one of the best preserved Buddhist structures in China. However, the compounds behind the pagodas were destroyed during the 1920s earthquake and later in the Cultural Revolution and were rebuilt in 1986. The Central Pagoda is almost 1200 years old and represents a period when Dali was a Buddhist Kingdom. It is primarily muslim now. The Congshen Temple behind the Three Pagodas was recently restored and reopened, after suffering considerable damage due to earthquakes, fires and the Cultural Revolution. It is a massive complex that continues far up the mountain. The only thing is that when you are looking up, you can’t see the end of the complex so you have no idea how much further you need to go!:) Once you get up to a decent height, there are beautiful views of Dali Ancient Town and Erhai Lake.
I was pleasantly surprised by the three pagodas. It was not crowded and looked very authentic…. unlike some other temples in China that have been restored to an extent where it has lost its charm.
I read somewhere that the structure was built to keep the dragons away… I guess it worked! There haven’t been any dragon sightings for over a 1000 years! 🙂
All this climbing and cycling made us all pretty famished. After a nice local lunch, Bill, Emily and I decided we had enough. So we got a massage! 🙂 Pretty easy decision!
It was Sonya’s last day in Dali so she decided to cycle on a bit further.
Most of the evening was spent relaxing around the hostel. Bill had his customary White Russian and was a happy boy.
Life is good!