Dali is where we come to party and kick it like we’re still in the USA. It’s also nicely central in Yunnan so the commute hassle is evenly distributed amongst our disparate group.
The best western food in Yunnan is quite definitely in Dali - mostly thanks to Serendipity Diner (the only place with free coffee refills; that’s a big deal). There’s also a McDonald’s, which hits the spot in it’s own saturated way.
The Old Town is flanked by cloudy mountains on one side, and a serene lake on the other. It’s the perfect ambiance for an afternoon of ranting with friends about our wacky jobs and weird lives. We usually close out the evening with a couple cocktails at Backyard Bar, the best local spot (if you can find it).
Yes, Dali is overrun by city-folk from the Eastern provinces and the local Bai ethnic minority have been pressed out of the prime real estate in the area. It’s perhaps one of the best examples of Chinese gentrification at its worst. One silver lining is meeting young artist folk who have sought refuge here from former urban toxicities. It’s a neat creative culture shadowed by yuppy overtones.
But the atmosphere is great and the food is delicious… Our souls need these expensive guilty pleasures to fuel the grind back at our placements.