On August 11, 2011, in Dali, Ethnic Group Flavors, Must-sees, by Jack Li

The full name of Dali is Dali Bai nationality autonomous prefecture, a member of the first group of 24 history and culture cities. It has a long historical standing and wins the title of “Literate City”. The landscape of Dali is beautiful. Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake are national natural reserves and Dali is one of the 44 famous scenic sites. If you are interested in reading Chinese Kung fu novels, you will be familiar with Dali, which is a famous background.

Dali is located in the west to the center of Yunnan Province, east to Chunxiong prefecture, south to Puer and Lincang, west to Baoshan and Nujiang River, north to Lijiang. Dali is 330 kilometers away from Kunming, the provincial capital of Yunnan. You can take a direct bus or take the flight to Kunming, Xishuangbanna or Guangzhou. From Kunming to Dali, you can also take a train.

Dali is one of the earliest places of cultural origin of Yunnan, an ancient city with thousands of years’ history. During about 500 years of Dang and Song dynasties, Dali has been the political, economic and cultural center of Yunnan. Dali scenic site mainly includes Dali Old City, Cangshan Mountain, Erhai Lake and the attractions of Bai nationality: Cangshan Mountain, with 19 mountains and 18 creeks, is filled with tremendous attraction everywhere, especially for the most beautiful Qingbi Creek. Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake, mountains around waters, Erhai Lake is like “the spotless jade in the mountains”. There are also famous attractions like the Three Pagodas, the symbol of Dali, Butterfly Spring, the symbol of pure love and the Bright Moon of Erhai Lake.

Dali Attractions

Cangshan Mountain

Erhai Lake

Dali Ancient City

Butterfly Spring

Dali Story

1. Three Cups of Tea

In Dali, the Three Cups of Tea used to be the customs of Bai nationality to receive honored guests, but now it is mostly used for folk performance. The first cup of tea, called “the tea of plain” means that we should endure hardships as an individual person. The second cup of tea, “the tea of sweet”, when guests finish the first cup, the hosts will make another cup of tea with brown sugar and other ingredients until the cup is 80% full. The third cup, named “tea of aftertaste”, the method of making this cup of tea is the same with others, but the ingredients are changed into honey, vicianose, a few pepper and walnut kernel and the cup is about 60% or 70% full. The making process is quite complicated, so now the common custom is drinking three cups of tea one by one without making them with different ingredients on site. This is why we can hardly feel the plain, sweet and aftertaste.

2. Wind Flower Snow and Moon

Wind Flower Snow and Moon originally refers the natural beautiful scenery written in the poems, but later it refers to the poems which are full of flowery words but no essence, as well as love affair or leading an indulging life. This idiom, carrying both positive and negative meanings, originates from classical allusion of Dali.

It is said that the most famous view is called “Wind Flower Snow and Moon”. The Wind is “Xiaguan Wind”. The legend has that Kwan-yin break the bottle of wind on the Tiansheng Bridge in Xiaguan, so wind here is strong and extremely chilling in winter. The Flower is “Shangguan Flower. It is sail Shangguan is abound in strange saronger and later the “Flower” is referred to the girls of Shangguan. The people in Shangguan mostly are of Bai nationality and their costumes are gorgeous, like beautiful flowers. The Snow is “Cangshan Snow”. The snow in winter will cover the Peak of Cangshan Mountain. Even though it is sunny, the silvery white will not disappear. The Moon is “Erhai Moon”. During nightfall, the golden full moon casts light on the lake, with the fishing boats floating lightly, quite gentle and fragrant. All the times, people of Dali feel proud while mentioning the “Wind Flower Snow and Moon.”

3. Baked Pork

Baked Pork is a unique lifestyle to eat pork of people of Bai nationality in Dali and Eryuan area. People of Bai nationality will eat pork at every festival or at weddings or funerals. The way they butchering and cooking pigs is quite unique. After butchering the pig, they will bake them with straw. One person fanning to make the fire stronger while the other stirs the straw continually with two sticks to make the fire bake the pig to burned black. Then they wash it with well water and use a knife to scrape off the black part. The pig will appear golden yellow and gives off a pleasant smell. Finally they cut open the pig and cut it into several pieces for future cook. This is the “Baked Pork” of people of Bai nationality. It is quite pleasant to taste with no fishy smell of pork.

Jack Li
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