Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dali...on fire!!

We arrived in Dali looking for a few restful days, and we got them! On alternating days, I was either sick or it was raining, so not the best way to see the place. The biggest attractions in Dali are climbing the mountain, riding bikes around the lake, and visiting the old town. And we did exactly one of those activities! The old town - cobblestones, canals, the whole bit - was nice enough (though not nearly as charming as Lijiang or Shangri-la) but our experience in Dali did have one incredibly memorable aspect.

By sheer luck, our 3 days in Dali included the annual torch festival, a local tradition in which the townspeople gleefully try to burn their town down. We met up with our friends Helena and Dave from Tiger Leaping Gorge to see what the fun was all about. And boy was it fun!
The torches before they're lit
All over the old town, people have built towers of wood, fireworks and incense (with fruit stuck in too...not sure why!) and then light them on fire. In between those towers, they walk around with flaming torches and it looks like the happiest angry mob you've ever seen. Right in the middle of town we found a huge tower (right between a wooden pagoda and a big tree) with fireworks that were set off from the top of the tower right into the crowd! We stood back a bit :)
Even the little ones get involved!
The last fun piece of the festival involves taking handfuls of pine dust and throwing them at the fire so you get quick-burning fire balls you can direct at people, as one local demonstrated on Cory:

The result of throwing pine dust at the fire
Although we certainly didn't have the most full experience Dali has to offer, we definitely had a memorable one!

Tips for your trip to Dali:
- We stayed at the Jade Emu and thought it was just great (provided you don't have a room next to the pool table, as we did...turns out people desperately want to play pool from 8am-midnight!).
- You can walk along the wall the encloses the old town (for free!). Go to the south gate to find the stairs up to the temple.

More photos of our days in Dali:
P8011340P8011350P8011353P8011355In Dali Old TownThe Fathers of Socialism
Molly hanging out at our Hostel in Dali

Dali, a set on Flickr.

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