Day & Night: Dali Ancient Town

/ 12/10/2017

After hours in Dali consist of a totally different realm. As the sun starts to set at 8PM, the vibe in this ancient town has changed. We had already returned our bicycle to the shop and walked from the hostel to the night market in town. It was a cool night, with our mini groceries in hand - we stepped into almost night time Dali and it was something unimaginable. (Its night, but still bright though.)

Scroll on and enjoy the photos i took in Dali.

Just some tips for you:
On food, if you are a Muslim - there are several Muslim restaurants along an entrance of the ancient town. We settled in eat at a noodle shop. Generous servings and even though the taste is not to my palate, it is definitely different and i was appreciating every bite as much as i could. Oh, don't forget to try their flower pastry! 
If you are not on any strict diet (kosher/halal/vegetarian) - eat e v e r y thing.
The freshly made noodles i ate were sweet and sour.
Like any other night markets around the world, an abundance of handmade crafts were displayed on top of small wooden tables along the cobble stoned streets. Everyone starts getting ready for the night market from hand-painted tote bags, custom metal bending wires to beaded jewelries - its like you fell into an Art & Craft town. Aesthetically pleasing shops light up like it came out straight from Tumblr. I was taken aback by all the creativity here. 

As the night darkens, this beauty came to life. From one end to another, there were this beautiful stone walled entrance that lights up inside and outside beautifully. One could have mistaken it as a mini Great Wall of China even. Even their McDonald's has a touch of ancient architecture that complement well with the surrounding. The dogs in here are super big though, i was surprised. I thought they were a whole other creature.

 Just some tips for you:
On transport, if you have bought your train tickets and need to collect it or you want to buy it - head to their main post office in the town area. Its where all the night markets are at. Just get there before 6PM before they close for the day. Most importantly, bring your passport. Alternatively, you can collect/buy your ticket at the train station. For moving around town, get a bicycle as explained on my previous post.
Other than that, Dali is pretty amazing and if you have time do drop by this city. Stick around for my next post on another ancient town for my trip across China.

Don't miss my previous post on China here. Thanks for reading!

After hours in Dali consist of a totally different realm. As the sun starts to set at 8PM, the vibe in this ancient town has changed. We had already returned our bicycle to the shop and walked from the hostel to the night market in town. It was a cool night, with our mini groceries in hand - we stepped into almost night time Dali and it was something unimaginable. (Its night, but still bright though.)

Scroll on and enjoy the photos i took in Dali.

Just some tips for you:
On food, if you are a Muslim - there are several Muslim restaurants along an entrance of the ancient town. We settled in eat at a noodle shop. Generous servings and even though the taste is not to my palate, it is definitely different and i was appreciating every bite as much as i could. Oh, don't forget to try their flower pastry! 
If you are not on any strict diet (kosher/halal/vegetarian) - eat e v e r y thing.
The freshly made noodles i ate were sweet and sour.
Like any other night markets around the world, an abundance of handmade crafts were displayed on top of small wooden tables along the cobble stoned streets. Everyone starts getting ready for the night market from hand-painted tote bags, custom metal bending wires to beaded jewelries - its like you fell into an Art & Craft town. Aesthetically pleasing shops light up like it came out straight from Tumblr. I was taken aback by all the creativity here. 

As the night darkens, this beauty came to life. From one end to another, there were this beautiful stone walled entrance that lights up inside and outside beautifully. One could have mistaken it as a mini Great Wall of China even. Even their McDonald's has a touch of ancient architecture that complement well with the surrounding. The dogs in here are super big though, i was surprised. I thought they were a whole other creature.

 Just some tips for you:
On transport, if you have bought your train tickets and need to collect it or you want to buy it - head to their main post office in the town area. Its where all the night markets are at. Just get there before 6PM before they close for the day. Most importantly, bring your passport. Alternatively, you can collect/buy your ticket at the train station. For moving around town, get a bicycle as explained on my previous post.
Other than that, Dali is pretty amazing and if you have time do drop by this city. Stick around for my next post on another ancient town for my trip across China.

Don't miss my previous post on China here. Thanks for reading!
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Its about 9 in the morning and i have finally arrived Dali. An ancient city gloriously raised by the Nanzhao Kingdom which survived 200 years through 13 kings. It is also one of the most popular destination among the domestic travelers. Well, my sleep in the train was comfortable but exhausting at the same time. No, it is not contradictory at all. The bed was comfy but i kept waking up every second with paranoia swept over me. Overthinking that the train is going to derail or something - i don't know, maybe it was anxiety. I was also feeling breathless and kept taking deep breaths unconsciously every hour, every jerk the train made, every flashlight whenever the train conductor moves about in the middle of dawn. I was sure that i was already experiencing AMS (Altitude Mountain Sickness) at that moment. 
Chills run down my spine as i stepped out of the train, it was so much colder than in Kunming. Well, logically of course. I was travelling from Point A at the altitude of 1892m to Point B at the altitude of 1975m compared to Singapore which is no higher of 15m above sea level! The situation was chaotic outside the train station and believe me....its crowded. 
I spend my night in Dali Dragonfly Guesthouse located in the ancient town. The location of this guesthouse is definitely strategic. There's a lovely garden and sun terrace in the accommodation. A hand painted map of Dali with known landmarks in English was pin to the wall in the entrance. Information on current events were also pinned to a chalkboard for the beloved guest to stay updated. Of course, wifi is available. Their staff was super friendly and recommended cycling around the city. So i would really recommend to try cycling here and save time from walking and sweating. 
The little street and  alleys in front of the guesthouse are also artistic like this one below. I managed to squeeze in a mini photoshoot for fun here. I also discovered there are hidden boutique hostels while walking alone the alleys. Also, what's an alley without creepy people? We met some girl whom kept forcing us to enter a hostel and we saw her again outside our guesthouse in the middle of the night from our hostel window. She was even wearing the same clothes from the morning we saw her.

Sidenote: The meaning of the character below is Blessing. Also just to add, i am so blessed to have Najib in this trip with me. 
We had a choice between ($5-$7) an ebike, ($7-10) scooter or ($2) bicycle and all of them were less than 50 yuan for a day use. *Notes in case anyone else asked: we got 55yuan for 3 Bicycles about $2 per bike for a day use. 50 Yuan for a scooter.* I was reminded by the moments on scooter in Nusa Island and was very much tempted to get a scooter. In the end, i decided against it and chose this bicycle. I really needed a little bit of exercise - who knows, it might cure my AMS a little bit (no it didn't btw). We cycled from the hostel to the 3 pagoda for about 15 minutes or maybe lesser. It was a freaking cold & sunny day but i was just breathless the whole time. Really happy that i decided to use the bicycle as i am definitely doing my part to reduce carbon emissions and produce endorphin.Even cycling to the 3 Pagoda was such a breeze. I didn't enter the Pagodas though and took some scenic photos and souvenir shopping at the entrance of this gigantic temple. It is so majestic. I can't stop thinking about it.

My super cheap ass self cycled with my $2 bike all the way here to take a super cheap ass photo from afar. Aint no way i'm paying more than $10 to go inside the 3 Pagodas though. The view from the entrance is already amazing enough. This photo so lit. I love the rolling mountains behind the temple. Also, i would really recommend you guys to buy ceramic souvenirs in front of the entrance in the 3 Pagoda. Especially the ones on the photo above. Its like a hand painted mountains and waterfall on the ceramics. I bought 3 of them and is my favorite purchase for this trip.

Until next time, i will share more of Dali ancient town! 
Once in a blue moon, i do get messages from people asking what camera i use for my travels. It is none other than the reliable Canon G7X Mark I. I named him Aang, yeah Aang, the Last Airbender in Avatar. 

Here’s a brief history of my travel cameras over the years:

When i first started general blogging (not travel), i had my first Pentax compact camera. Its a cute camera that almost resemble a toy & you were able to change its body with different stickers. I got tired of its ugly quality and moved on to my first  m43 camera: the Sony Nex 5. It was the golden years where m43s were being introduced to the world and everyone is going crazy. The Nex 5 was beautiful but it lacks one thing: a 180 degrees flip up screen. I realised it was too heavy to vlog in & bringing it around for my travels was such a hassle. The Sony Nex series has been discontinued to make way for the mirrorless Alphas. 

Due to the weight of the camera, i sold it away for a Powershot SX280 HS. It doesn’t have a flip up screen but i wanted something lighter and easier to deal with. I was also considering to get the Canon S120 (recommended by Ben Brown & Casey Neistat) but the salesman kept pushing me to get this tough Powershot. Thinking back, i shouldn't have relented to him. I gave it a go but fortunately, it soaked itself into the blue sea in Phi Phi island a few months after. 

Why did i say fortunately? That’s when Canon decided to introduced the Canon G7X Mark I. My decision to get this camera was hugely influenced by Ben Brown, Fun For Louis & Casey Neistat - a cluster of travel vloggers that has boost my creativity by a notch. 

In with the new, out with the old, they say. What do i have to lose? I purchased it & never looked back since. Its been almost 3 years, the Mark II has come out and here i am giving a review for the first one. 

It has flip up screen, great focusing for a compact camera, lightweight and produce great photos and even astrophotography! Not to forget, the seamless transfer of images & videos on the G7X via wifi through the Canon Camera Connect application makes posting on my favourite social media a breeze. The application also allows me to do a remote shooting and its pretty useful at times - especially when traveling alone. For more specification details, you can look up online as this information is widely available.
Here are some sample photos: 

I deliberately uploaded these photos that explores different types of photography modes used in the camera. I am most impressed by the astrophotography photo i took in New Zealand, the result was unbelievable. I particularly use my G7X for landscape photos during my travels as above and it has never let me down. I am also able to control the camera to give a blurry background effect. Night photos can be a bit tricky but i can manage it with some post editing. During my research to purchase this camera, i found out that the G7X can function as a part-manual camera. It is a good practice before migrating to an SLR or DSLR. I never regretted this purchase. I am not one for tech reviews but i hope this post benefits those whom are dabbling into photography leisurely and looking for the perfect travel camera.

Anyway, this is also a farewell post for my well used Canon G7X Mark 1 because i am about to upgrade to a different camera. I guess as we moved on to a different phase of life, our preference changes. I can’t wait to tell you more about my new camera. (Psst, first photo taken using my new mirrorless camera!)

What kind of camera do you use on your travels? Tell me more about it.