Monday, January 20, 2014

Jade Roo


It seems that most people do Yunnan in a slightly different order than I did, going to Dali on the way to Lijiang instead of on the way back.  However, the upside to this was that everyone I chatted with in hostels before going to Dali had already been there, and almost universally recommended the Jade Roo as the place to stay.  With so many good words about it, and as it was also highly rated on hostelworld, I followed their advice.  

The only downside, really, is that it isn't in the old city itself, but it's a short walk to the city walls and probably the quiet for being outside, so it really wasn't a problem.  I stayed in the dorm as usual, and found that, as promised, this place had the best beds I'd seen yet.  The bunk beds were heavy and wooden; they just needed curtains to complete the feeling of being something out of Dickens in the 19th century.  The beds themselves were not the usual narrow twins--they were so large that they were almost full size.  Really, probably somewhere in between a twin and full, but still, it felt extravagant for a hostel.  They had the usual heating pad underneath the sheets, which I immediately cranked up as it was a cold, rainy day outside.  And not only did they provide the usual white duvet, but also a soft red fleece blanket.  As I settled in, the rain outside turned to snow, so I settled into my warm bunk and cuddled up with the fleece blanket and spent most of the evening reading.  

Next door to the hostel is an Italian restaurant with a coffee shop and book store on the second floor; I believe they and the hostel all belong to an Australian expat (hence the "roo" in the name).  That first night I finally crawled out of my warm hole and darted across the courtyard through the rain for supper.  Usually, the safe thing to do in China when a restaurant offers both Chinese and Western food is to stick to the Chinese food--generally better to have good Chinese food than mediocre Western food.  But here I was proven wrong...I ordered sweet and sour pork as I was craving meat after mostly having carbs the last few days, and it was probably the worst sweet and sour pork I've ever had in China.  The chicken tasted as if it was breaded with sawdust, and the rice was dry--altogether bland and tasteless.  Two nights later, however, I braved the place again and decided this time to go for Italian, as that was what was touted in the name of the place (I don't remember the name right off--something very typical such as Dolce Vita, I think).  I was pleasantly surprised that the spaghetti bolognese I ordered turned out to be some of the best I've had in a long time, certainly the best I've ever had in China.  Just goes to show you never can tell.  

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