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- 2012 Fragrant Hills Red Leaf Festival STEVENLEE Oct 16, 2012 03:06
Dali, 1984, was wonderful
I was very lucky to be one of the first 100 western tourists allowed into Dali. I loved the area and it was a lifelong dream to see it. I had read books by the famous plant hunter, F. Kingdon Ward when I was younger, and that stirred my initial interest in the area. There was no airport and I took a ten hour bus from Kunming. I stayed in a four bed dorm room for apx US $0.10 (ten cents!!). The main gate was being repaired because of Red Guard damage. Many temples were also being repaired. I was there during the sweeping of the graves festival and several families took me in tow for food, drink (lots of drink!!) and gave me a tour of desecrated temple sites (Buddha frescoes with Mao's face painted over Buddha's, etc.) I tried to hitch to Lijiang but I was caught in a roadblock and put on a truck going to Dali and dropped at my hotel. The police came to talk to me and said there was "nothing for a tourist to see" in Lijiang. It was still a closed city at that time. I stayed for almost a month in Dali and enjoyed a large festival and had many adventures. I also enjoyed upsetting the pompous Public Security agents. I miss my friends from that period. Terry from Wisconsin, Saul from America, Mike from Hong Kong, Frank from America, "the Italian", and my Kiwi friends. Email me if you see this, old friends!! On the way back to Kunming I sat with two PLA soldiers and they shared pot with me on the bus (wow, unbelievable!!) as we watched troop convoys heading for the Vietnam War Zone.
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