The last four days I have felt very grateful for the invention of gortex-lined shoes. The rain stopped late this morning and I made a bee-line for the bike rental. The shopkeeper needed a passport for collateral and I did not have mine with me. Fortunately, it turns out my Boulder RTD (bus) card carries a lot of weight in Yunan province. I think it must have been a gesture of ground transportation provider solidarity.
Getting the bike was easier than getting to the lake. It looked straightforward on the map. I learned some important things along the way:
1) It does not matter if I ask for directions in English or Spanish. It only matters that my pantomime skills are superb.
2) Even I am not skilled enough to pantomime "where is the toilet" without getting myself beat up. So I took an iPhone photo of a public toilet sign (hopefully the correct gender) that I use when necessary.
3) I have read that highway and private car ownership are a relatively new reality in China. There seems to be a universal practice here that whenever a driver comes within 200 yards of another vehicle, bike, or pedestrian they give two honks. Honk-honk apparently means "I will be arriving in your vicinity in the next twenty seconds so don't even think about changing lanes abruptly or irrationally hurling your body into my oncoming car. Than you." It is a very friendly and cleverly proactive honk.
4) Another universal practice, like in many other countries is spitting. When on a bike at a stoplight one must make one's presence known to car passengers if their windows are open.
Erhai Lake and the bordering Bai minority communities I cycled to were beautiful. See the photos. Seventh largest lake in the country. Fraid I didn't make it the whole way around. Altitude... Got back to Dali in time to stroll the weekly market.