Flight from Dali

Nicholas Quirke was experiencing deja vu on 28 April 2021 when plans for the day were scrapped. They were travelling to Kunming by train in evening and the 65 Km round journey via Didi to get to an island on Lake Erhai seemed too far and too expensive. The compromise was to tour Erhai Park, which, was exactly what he had done on his previous last day in Dali. The park though was a 2 km long hill and there was plenty that he hadn’t explored and as his first visit had included climbing over 300 steep steps much of his time had been taken up in that endeavour. First though, they’d packed and there was breakfast to be enjoyed which they ordered in and ate on the balcony. Nicholas was keen to try the rosella tea and conducted a small tea ceremony on the balcony before they left to explore the park. Starting with a small temple next to the hotel they then worked their way through the various places of interest the large park had to offer the first of which Nicholas seriously believed was named for the famed Chinese fable The Monkey Kimg’ and was disconcerted to discover that Monkey Mountain was literally a small hill that was home to a mini colony of simians. There was a small zoo which he declined to visit and instead they wandered to the unimpressive but large South Gate. Saw the memorial to the victims of the Japanese invasion, the very beautiful lake and tea house run by a Frenchman who has settled in Dali 13 years previously, various pavilions, and their search for the perfect spot to capture views of the immense lake was rewarded as they began their descent. They treated themselves to a tea in a local tea house on the harbour and walked back to the hotel to check out along the shore. The sudden appearance of a helicopter disturbed the peace but they discovered it was picking up water from the lake to put out a fire that has started in Dali city and capturing the event on camera was exciting by the time they reached the hotel it was time to head to the station and go back by train to Kunming where they would spend the night in a hotel near the airport which, accentuated the sense of deja bu the day had held for him. They had not eaten since breakfast and when they were ensconced in the hotel room Peng ordered food while Nicholas prepared for his weekly online lesson with Dylan. Though he was clearly online they were unable to connect with him and after nearly 30 minutes they gave up and he ate his late supper. The flight in the morning was at 6.50 and it meant straight to sleep for another 4.30 am rise.

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