Hello there and welcome back to this week’s issue of “Bajan,” Chinese Style! Over the past few weeks, we have celebrated both with friends and family, as well as having taken time to reflect and even make predictions about what we wish to achieve during the course of this year. Nothing is more pleasing than keeping a promise to yourself and so, it is with great joy that we once again set off on our exploration of the diverse Yunnan Province, notably the astonishing Lake Er Hai!
Lake Er Hai (The Ear shaped Lake) falls under the geo-political jurisdiction of Dali and as can be assumed is of sacred importance to the local Yi and Bai ethnicities, who are the traditional denizens the the Kingdom of Dali and its surroundings. The lake is referred to as being the ‘Mother Lake of the Bai,” and is the second largest fresh water lake in Yunnan province, second only to Lugu Lake of the Naxi people.
Before going any further, let us first get a basic understanding of the dimensions of this lake.
To say Lake Er Hai is large is quite the under statement, for the lake itself covers a staggering total land area of approximately 256 square kilometers, with its total length amounting to 42.5 kilometers and total width, 9 kilometers. To simply draw the parallel, many small islands can easily be swallowed up by this gargantuan body of water.
Secondly, Lake Er Hai forms one of the four major vistas of Dali, which have been traditionally established as being; Wind, Flower, Snow and Moon. Er Hai forms the basis of the ‘Moon’ vista and is known by locals as the “Er Hai Moon/ Moon of Er Hai.’ These four vistas will be discussed in greater detail in following issues.
Our next order of business is to look at just how one goes about exploring Er Hai. As with Lugu Lake, in the Ancient City of Dali, there are a multitude of bike, moped and motorcycle rental shops, which provide 12, 24 or even 48 hr rentals.
Most shops offer competitive prices, and bargaining, though not ‘officially’ expected, is still welcomed non the less. The standard going price for the daily mountain bike rental is 50 RNB plus a deposit of 100 RNB. The prices of moped and motorcycle rentals whilst not much higher, the deposit required is significantly so.
Additionally, from Dali there is the option of taking part in a new fad which has been sweeping the lake recently. That is, booking a seat on a ‘Hummer motorcade.’ This system usually works on a first come first serve basis and so, it is paramount to reserve your space in advance. ‘Tmall Travel,’ is often the most reliable way of booking your seat, but many walk in travel agencies also offer similar packages. From the feedback I’ve received from a few friends of mine who used such methods, these walk-in packages seem for the time being, quite reliable and enjoyable, sans the con-artistry which exists with similar businesses in Lijiang.
Now, having booked your bike, moped, motorcycle, or seat on an air conditioned, four wheel drive Hummer, your expedition around Er Hai is set to begin, and I am certain you will not be disappointed. For my trip around Er Hai, I rented a mountain bike, and so, armed with my trusty camera and jovial company of four, I set off.
Join us next week as we put peddle to the meddle against wind, rain and sun, pushing our limits as we try to circle Er Hai!
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