Well, the inevitable "Chairman Mao's Revenge" gripped hold of my intestines and would not let go until I unleashed the mother of all antibiotics -- Cipro. I hate using that stuff because in addition to wiping out the bad tummy organisms it also trashes the good ones that keep me healthy. This is the paradox of modern pharmaceuticals. I am 100% recovered!
Dali is another kind of paradox. An ancient city at the shores of a great lake... With a pizza joint on every other corner. It's a backpacker's haven and all that goes with this - smoke shops next to bars next to fried cheese vendors and craft stalls. It's been raining hard since I arrived, so I took it as a sign from the travel gods to rest and recover in the lovely little Hotel Fairyland (I am sure the name is more poetic and less Disney-esque in Chinese.)
Yesterday I met Ray, a vacationing Chinese university student and he really wanted to practice English so we wound up walking around and eating lunch together. Ray's parents recently adopted a baby girl from a family that already had too many daughters. They will raise the little girl as their own, though the birth parents send a modest check each month as a symbol of gratitude. Ray is studying accounting but really wants to go into sports marketing. This vacation was kept a secret from his parents who would have been too worried about Ray traveling alone. In fact, he was afraid to call his mother from Dali for fear that she would hear people in the background and recognize their regional accent, concluding that he was off on an adventure. Ray helped me out with some translation in the morning so I offered to pick up the tab for lunch. He looked at me sternly, shook his finger in my face and said, "no, I am an independent man." I thought to myself, "Hey Ray, don't tell me. Tell your mom." I kept this thought to myself and apologized.
If the sun peaks out today I will head out on a bike to some of the 17 villages that dot the lake.