Butterfly Spring, near Dali, Yunnan, China

We took an overnight train and arrived Dali (大理)the next morning.  The old town itself is actually about half an hour drive across vast farm fields at the foot of Cang mountain.

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By the time we got to the old town, we were so hungry that we finished these bowls of ersi (饵丝) in no time.  Only later to find out that these were some of the better ones in this town.

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It’s a nice little old town that got lots of its own style… buildings boasts hundreds of years of history lined up the streets.  Each of them got a unique set of traditional Chinese doors and windows with delicate drawings and carvings.  From their rather old-fashioned outsets, little did we know they are just your usual banks, salons, or coffeeshops….

And this stream passes through the center of the town.  It used to provide the necessary water for ancient households.  Even though its water can’t be used for cooking nowadays, it is still used to clean the windows, doors, and floors of the shops around the area.

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Time to try grilled rushan (乳扇), or grilled hard cheese wrap with some sauce fillings.

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and you eat it on a skewer..  They also got the uncooked ones for sell.  Apparently they are super easy to make at home, and you could also use them to make other foods.

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Passing by the “foreigner’s street”.  The street got its name because of revolution to overthrow the Yuan Shikai’s attempt to become the new emperor after the fall of the last Chinese dynasty.

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Trying out a local hat

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Some local fruits, on the right is the sour horn.

We bought one of those funny fruits home, and it tasted so good….

We found a car going to the butterfly spring.  Butterfly Spring was a famous local park.  It only got more famous when this movie “Five Jinghuas (Golden Flowers)” came out.  It’s about a young man named Ah’peng and a young woman named Jinghua (golden flower) made their love vows in front of the Butterfly Spring to get married when Ah’peng is ready.  When Ah’peng was ready and went to look for Jinghua in her village, he found that all unmarried ladies in the village are named Jinghua.  He literally bumped into 4 other Jinghuas before getting the right girl.

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The park starts with a bamboo forest

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and a lady sitting in the middle of a park all day embroidering all sorts of handicrafts.

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Stones commemorating the park and the movie.

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a tree splits in evenly in the middle of a trail….

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The man himself.  Butterfly Spring turns out more bluish than green… The calm water lies on a rock dipping into the shape of a bowl, made it looking like a bottomless whirlpool in the middle.  The old tree branch languishing across the spring, pasting its a dark reflection on the its glassy surface.  If you look at it long enough, it made you wonder if the bottom of that spring is real, if it holds other mysteries at the dark center of its bottom.  Maybe the stories from my childhood, like the dragon grandpa, really lives down here.  Why is it blue afterall….

Behind the butterfly spring is just more stairs to climb

and a temple at the top

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and a killing view of Er’hai (洱海), the local “sea”.

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Coming down from the temple up top, right next to the Butterfly Spring is the Love Lake

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It has all sorts of ducks, swans and fish…  These three geese were beating up and chasing this poor duck….

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and an indoor butterfly garden holds hundreds of butterflies….

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these are the most common

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Then we found this brown one that has leaf-like wings enjoying its food and some other exotic ones…

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We even get to watch their sex lives….

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and they aren’t afraid of people

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Why is this one so big? it’s almost a quarter of my head?

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The gigantic tree in front of the park is famous for its age (though I’m not sure how old, but it must been that long).

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Next we went to Xizhou old town (喜洲).

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You would wonder why is this big street so quiet, they especially blocked out this section of the town and renovated it for tourists…

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A map of the old tea trading route at the entrance of the town

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tea that are still drying under the sun

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and then you press it by sitting on this dragon presser, lifting your butt up and down (yap, ya heard that right, yar ass does the work).. they could be pressed into those little bundles.

a huge tea pot

going through houses after houses…. all renovated very nicely

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Then we were brought to this house for a tea show

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pour tea leaves and water in

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sit, sit, sit…

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now filter…

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and only after filtering is your tea ever so ready….

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The tea were pressed into different shapes according to their grades.  The top grade is pressed into round bundles, and the 2nd best grade is pressed into rectangles.

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And then we were led to a local dance performance, followed by a couple servings of their teas.

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Gotta love how their walls are decorated. Every wall around there, even outside the touristy areas, are decorated with these paintings and calligraphies on their edges…

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Views of some of those court yards… I don’t know why but they remind me of those traditional brothels in Chinese movies.  But this probably belonged to some well-to-do families back in the day.

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Another court yard, with the inscription “wind, flower, snow, moon” in the middle of its big white wall, poetically illustrating the four well-known beauties of Dali.

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one of the coolest windows, both sides were artfully decorated with “double-blessings” in Chinese.

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Coming back to the old town Dali… its gate that goes to Cang Mountain

The town ready to retire…

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Dinner is the Er’si stir fried.

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Our hotel is right next to this prominent town gate.  So it was said this building used to host hoards of VIPs back in the day, including foreign ambassadors…

I was advised to try these flower teas…

and the local flower wine

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and this Tibetan hot tea…

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