China: Yunnan

Dali: Goddess of Mercy Temple and Erhai Lake


Yunnan Province


Elevation 2007m – 6585 ft

Population 652,000

June 1, 2013

Dear Friends,

Dali is attacked - The enemy is at the gates!  Will Dali survive?

At the entrance to the Goddess of Mercy Temple just south of Dali Old Town, a stone-carved mural depicts the potential battle.  

Ilian provides the details of the legend.

Ilian is a big man.  A very big man.  Illian’s grandfather was a tailor, a farmer and a wrestler.  Apparently, Illian inherited his grandfather’s skills, his traditional values and his physique.

Dali: The Old Town

                                         Dali – “Can I Go Home Now?” 


Yunnan Province


May 30, 2014

Dear Fellow Travelers,

Traveling in China can be so frustrating!   I think I’ll go home.

After a four and a half hour bus ride from Kunming to Dali New Town, and after a taxi driver refused to take me to my hotel near the Old City,  and  after a thirty minute bone-shaking, jaw-jarring, teeth- shattering ride in the Chinese answer to the Thai Tuk Tuk, and after waiting more than half an hour for someone from the hotel to pick me up because the Tuk Tuk driver dropped me off at the wrong gate of the city, and after taking a taxi from the South Gate of the Old City to the West Gate, and  after checking in at the Jade Emu Guest House that looked like a good hotel on the Internet but was just a notch above a youth hostel, and after all of the above being transacted with a variety of people with whom I cannot communicate, I ask you, “Can I go home now?”

Shilin: The Stone Forest


Yunnan Province


May 28, 2014

Dear Friends and lovers of poetry,

“Something there is that truly loves a stair.”    

With apologies to Robert Frost, I adhere to my “stair” formula wherever I travel.   See a stair? Climb!  Explore.  Discover.  “Good stairs make good adventures.” *

Except today, I got in trouble.

About 120k Southeast of Kunming, in the Shilin area, the picturesque and level grounds of the Stone Forest invite tourists young and old to admire the unique, bizarre and photogenic karst  geology formations.

Bingzhongluo: Stuck in the Mud

Stuck in the Mud!



Gongshan County

Nu Jiang Liuku Autonomous Prefecture

Yunnan Province


June 13, 2014


Stuck in the mud!  Is that ever a good thing?

Despite the gloomy weather and the potentially muddy country roads, my guide Ilian and I decide to visit a Tibet style temple and to explore the mountain villages above Bingzhongluo here in the upper and remote reaches of Yunnan Province.  We hire a local man with a four-wheel drive vehicle.