Falling Off the Turnip Truck in Xizhou, Yunnan Province, China
Dali’s reputation as a hip destination in Yunnan province, China, might be a tad overhyped, but go, because it’s a pleasant walking town and the rooftop at Jim’s Tibetan Hotel is unbeatable. Before you get there, be sure to book Jim for his tour of the relatively untouristed nearby town of Xizhou. Prepare to travel by horse cart, turnip truck, boat, minibus, and of course on foot as you explore first-hand the present-day clues and past ghosts of Chinese culture. Without Jim’s tidbits, you might step on the random clump of straw in the middle of an alley without realizing you had just fallen for the booby trap set by the family of a sick relative. As Jim points out, you were meant to step on it—the family placed it there in hopes that their bad luck might be passed along to you. Houses, walls, doorways, paths, and temples are Jim’s props to uncover inanimate testimonies of tumult and change that left little untouched in modern China. At the end of a fascinating day, you won’t feel like you just fell off the turnip truck, even if you actually do.