Dali is the Chinese word for marble because of the distinctive red-colored marble mined in the region. Dali sits in a large fault-bounded valley with a lake on its eastern side. We'll take a cable-car ride up Cangshan for a ten kilometer hike to see the effects of Himalayan mountain building even though we are thousands of kilometers away from the main collision zone. Fortunately we won't have to back track, as we'll take a different cable-car down from the mountain.

Dali is also famous for its three 1100 year-old pagodas that survived a 6.4 magnitude earthquake in 1974 though two of them are now tilted. We'll stay in the Dali ancient town where you'll learn about the local Bai minority. On Christmas Eve, the local people will learn about some western holiday traditions as we don Santa caps and go caroling in the ancient town. We'll celebrate the holidays with a feast and a party.