travel thoughts and experiences
Walking the streets of the old town of Dali in China, I could not but feel something was missing. The old taverns, artistic small shops, galleries, music stores – all of it enclosed within the walls, keeping out of the outside tourist world. The spiritual emptiness screamed for more – a missing soul once lively, but lost a long time ago.
A fellow traveler spoke about the old-times Dali as a paradise for independence in mind, speech, expression. A sanctuary for artists, travelers, and like-minded people from China and beyond. “That was a long time ago. Must be at least fifteen years since the police raid. They came and transformed the town to one following the New Chinese way” he said. Whether truth or not, the feeling spoke for itself. Something did happen, Dali is not the town it once, probably, used to be.
Asking further for a place similar to the one of Dali before, local people mentioned Shaxi. A village enclosed in a valley, cut off from the main travel routes, not visited much. A poetic place, living its own life, following its own time. The reality is a bit different. However peaceful and serene Shaxi village is, it did not assume the liveliness of former Dali I had imagined. Maybe it was just because of no season, maybe not; but somehow I could not connect Shaxi with the vibrant night-life of a bigger city.
It’s spirit lies somewhere on the other side of the social spectrum. There is literally nothing to do there, except …
roaming the ancient streets, walled by houses made of raw clay bricks,
enjoying the peaceful atmosphere of closed shops and restaurants (only one was opened for business),
listening to the wind gusting through the farming fields,
feeling the energy of coming storm,
or just taking a break off the traveling rush, sightseeing.
Supposedly, there are a few outdoor activities to undertake nearby the village. For me though, kayaking down a river just doesn’t fit into the tranquil environment. Shaxi village is simply a place to relax and suck in the flavours of old China. Maybe this is the place where the lost spirit took refuge, far away from the deafening sounds of construction and car engines, the suffocating air pollution, and the power-hungry society.
random photography by Pete Rosos
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