The bunk beds in “hard sleeper” are comfortable and – surprise – long enough for me. The train arrives in Kunming at 7:00. It’s another boring modern city, although fresher than Huaihua; I take one look at it and decide to move on. Twenty minutes later I am in an express bus to Dali. As apparently happens frequently, the bus doesn’t follow the schedule and terminates in Xiaguan, where hordes of drivers want to drag us into their cabs and tuk-tuks for the remaining distance. I opt for a local bus, together with a British/Australian couple I met on the way. In Dali, we checked into the Tibetan Lodge, which has cute but tiny single rooms.

And it’s sunny with a deep blue sky! Goodbye hazy Hunan, welcome to Yunnan!

Dali is a walled square of mostly pedestrianized streets lined with old wooden houses, against a backdrop of a mountain range that is so high that there is still a little snow on top. Quite beautiful. Lots of shops selling souvenirs, jewellery, clothes, and tours; also lots of restaurants and a few pagodas and guard towers along the city wall (the picture shows one) sprinkled in. Like in Fenghuang, there are no American chains like KFC, McD, or 7Eleven. English is understood here, a little. It’s very pleasant to stroll about town. It’s still off-season so there are few tourists here, this time including a few Westeners.

Hat dinner at the Tibetan Cafe. They have hors d’heaves, fried glory with garlic, and gees (eggs). Not bad but a little uninspired apart from the diction. I like this town and will stay another day before taking off for its more famous cousin, Lijiang.