A Milestone in DaliKunming, Summer 2012

This weekend, I celebrated my 21st birthday in Dali, China. How many people can say that? Before I left for China, I was pretty upset that I wouldn’t get to spend my 21st birthday at home (where 21 actually marks something important) with friends and family. Turns out, this weekend was an amazing retreat to one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to right outside of Kunming. A popular Western restaurant near Yunnan University is called Salvador’s. The owners once tried to open a restaurant in Dali and I wondered why they would ever want to live in such a random place. This trip fully explained why a group of American men wanted to move to Dali so badly.

On the 5-hour bus ride to Dali we had some great discussions with Ed Grumbing (aka “Dam man”), a guest lecturer that tagged along this trip. He’s the definition of intelligent and also one of the most interesting men I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Intellectual conservations and the beautiful mountain landscape made the long bus ride so much more enjoyable.

On the night of my 21st birthday, our group went out to explore the Old City. I wasn’t expecting anything for my birthday, but I was surprised with cake and a good time out with the gang. The next day, we finally got to see the Mekong (the focus of our studies) and took a motorboat down the river to see the world’s tallest dam. Devoid of people or villages, the river was just breathtaking. Our accelerated boatride back to the village involved sporadic rain and techno Chinese music, an experience that I’ll think back on in the future and laugh about.

The highlight of the weekend (besides the great shopping and food) was wandering into a Bai fishing village. If you’ve ever had one of those picturesque dreams where you’re walking through a lush green field, this village probably looked exactly like that. The nearby lake where the Bai fish for food was just as beautiful. See for yourself!

Yeah, I’m pretty satisfied that my birthday weekend was spent in Dali. I learned, I shopped, I wandered…don’t be surprised if I open up my own Western bakery in Dali a few years down the road.

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