Shuanglang – Little Known Secret Paradise

Shuanglang nestling on Erhai

Shuanglang, a Bai Minority town,

across from Dali in Yunnan, nestling on the shore of Erhai Lake, is one of China‘s most laid-back destination.

With poetic scenery and tranquil guesthouses, the small fishing village of Shuanglang has become a favourite escape from urban living for those know.

An idyllic hideaway 

Many of you may know of the tourist-thronging Dali & Lijiang in Southwest China’s Yunnan Province. But few of you may have heard of Shuanglang Village. This is an idyllic place & China’s hidden little treasure which few have come to know.

For over a thousand years, the local Bai Minority people here have made their living fishing in the lake. But the past 10 years have brought in a change to life. The small tranquil village is now popular with visitors looking to unwind and enjoy a slower tempo.

Boating pleasure

Old alleys and traditional architecture made for pleasant wanders. And it’s easy to take a boat out on the lake or just kick back and do very little.

Surrounded by mountains on three sides, Shuanglang village hugs the scenic Erhai lake. The weather here always seems perfect, making it a great retreat anytime of the year. It is also home to some of the most romantic boutique guesthouses in China.

Filming taking place . . .

Baxun, Shuanglang village chief & owner of the first such guesthouses, said,”A guesthouse is not a hotel. It’s much more personal. The decoration varies in different guesthouses. Each and every one of them represents the owner’s unique style.” There are more than 120 guesthouses now, offering much choice for a comfortable stay. Most face the lake and have decks providing breath-taking views.

A tourist said,” I like staying here. It feels like home.” And many really do make this their other home. In fact, many of the guesthouses are opened by the once “outsiders”.

Xiaoyun and her husband, “We wanted to find somewhere peaceful to live,” came to Shuanglang in 2009 from Beijing, and fell in love with the quiet village. The couple later quit their jobs to set up their own guesthouse here. “We had traveled to many places around the country. The air, clouds, people . . . we just love everything here.”

As elsewhere in China, change is coming to Shuanglang. Several new guesthouses have been built in anticipation of future visitors. With the influx of bar, restaurants & people, the mood of the village will no doubt change. Hopefully it will be a few years before this hidden gem becomes a mini-Lijiang.

English: Erhai - Lake of Dali (Yunnan) - North...
English: Erhai – Lake  (Yunnan) – Northern part (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the present, tranquillity & peace exist. Before long these may not persist!

Dali – Yunnan, China

By P Chong                                                                                  16 March 2011

. . . where the ancient flourishes

right in modern mist!

Aerial View of Dali

The Traditional Dragon Dance

Hu Jintao, President of China, advocates “living harmoniously” and there’s no better place where the slogan is deeply rooted in the daily lives of the people. In Dali – an ancient town in Yunnan China, there’s a good cultural mix of different ethnic groupsHan Chinese, Bai & Naxi minorities and many others, all living in peace & harmony.

Ancient Dali lies within the ancient walls where the old way of life still flourishes, while modern Dali sprawls & spreads outside the protective walls – north, south, east or west.

Picturesque Erhai Lake Dominates the Region

. . . diversity in unity & unity in diversity.

Yunnan is noted for its very high level of ethnic diversity. It has the highest number of ethnic groups among all provinces and autonomous regions in China. Among the country’s fifty-six recognised ethnic groups, twenty-five are found in Yunnan. Some 38% of the province’s population are members of minorities, including the Yi, , Hani, Tai, Dai, Miao, Lisu, Hui, Naxi, Lahu, Va, Nakhi, Yao, Tibetan, Jingpo, Blang, Pumi, Nu, Achang, Jinuo, Mongolian, Derung, Manchu, Shui, and Buyei. All of them are educated in Mandarin & speak Mandarin fluently.

The current popular tune of “Darling, darling . . . darling na” (not sure of the song title & I am just going by the sound) flowed through the narrow cobble-stone streets as we wandered around. I learned that the soothing song was sung by a Naxi girl who first rendered it to be popular in the local tavern of Dali. My brother Mike bought me a copy of the CD seeing that I was so captivated by the tune.

I guess the beautiful catchy tune took the hearts of most visitors & tourists, who were mainly in their twenties or thirties, males & females, most of whom were armed with their hand-phones & digital cameras. There was only a handful of foreigners & oldies.

Young people reflect the rise of Chinese middle class & their mobility to travel & enjoy the pleasures of life long denied them. We found a couple of Australian tourists resting themselves by the shop front and upon chatting with them found that they had difficulties because of the language problem. Speaking & understanding Mandarin is necessary. Everybody speaks Mandarin. However, Mandarin or no Mandarin, people were generally friendly & helpful . . . smiling with a cheerful heart.

Dali against its snow-capped mountain. A street scene in a more outlying village of Dali.

More pictures:

Scenic Erhai Lake

Related Articles

Yunnan – “The Southern Clouds” in China

By P Chong

23 Feb. 2011

 

Stone Forest, Kunming

Yunnan is endlessly a place of fascination

Surpassing many well-trodden places

To delight the hearts & souls

With hills & valleys away from shores

With rivers & streams gurglingly flow

Through its streets both new & old

Beneath its natural clear blue sky

From its distant snow-capped mountains

To the lakes & canals of its cities & towns.

 

Yunnan - Tourist Map

Though occupying only about 4.1% of China‘s landmass, it contains 25 different ethnic minorities reflecting the most culturally diverse province in China & the national realm of harmonious living in unity in diversities.

From the UNESCO listed Stone Forest of Kunming, the Capital of Yunnan, an unique karst topography, depicting the concrete jungle of modern metropolitan China to the age-old towns of Dali or Lijiang, the traveller can feel the pulse of China’s economic surge while being reminded of a land unsurpassed in history & culture.

Electric Tourist Cart for Rounding Stone Forest. Entrance: Seniors FREE.

This plateau land in the south-west corner of China beckons to you, one & all, though for the seniors, I would suggest that you’re fit to truly enjoy the many natural spots of interests, without having to worry about aching feet or weary & painful backs. The are certainly lots of cobble-stone roads to trudge, laborious steps & stairs to ascend or descend, jostling crowds to mingle with . . . ceaseless streets with surprising turns of fun & joy.

Dali Against Its Snow-Capped Moutain (Cangshan)
Erhai Lake, Dali
City Wall & Tourist Taxi Van

For the ‘shopperholics’, the narrow streets are lined with quaint little shops filled with leather goods of sorts, souvenirs both old & new, clothing, jade, silverware & porcelain ware. The atmosphere is one of festivities, colours everywhere with red as the dominant choice for prosperity & good fortune.

Street Scene

The crowd is predominantly young. I would say 99% of them with a sprinkle of senior members & foreigners. Thousands of these tourists are Chinese nationals. This is such a prominent feature everywhere you turn . . . young & vibrant, mobile, modern tech population group with time to spare & money to spend. Virtually everyone, male or female alike, is equipped with the mobile phone, the popular iPhone or other smart phones.

Both Dali & Lijiang have preserved their ancient enclosed or walled townships where visitors & tourists are encouraged to stay rather than in their developed new areas and experience of a life of an era gone by.

 

Local Snack Food Galore


 

 

 

 

 

Town Square - Cobble-Stone
Stone Forest, Kunming