We spent our four nights in Dali, China at the delightful Windoo Resort, situated on the western bank of Erhai Lake. Stretching 40 kilometers in length at an elevation of nearly 2,000 meters, Erhai is the second largest lake of its kind in China. Ferries make frequent trips across the lake for those wishing to explore the area in depth, but we were content just to admire the view. Windoo boasts a spacious deck, well-stocked with comfy chairs, sunbeds and even a hammock. Gazing across the water in such a serene setting made for a relaxing end to our Yunnan holiday.
Windoo Resort is located in Longkan Village, just a few kilometers east of Dali Ancient City. The front desk staff will call for a taxi to take you wherever you want to go, and bikes are available for leisurely rides through the countryside. We pedaled several kilometers north hoping to follow the lake, but the road veered west before heading north, taking us through the helpfully signposted “pastoral scenery.” Small villages dot the landscape and we spent a morning getting wonderfully lost in their narrow lanes.
We enjoyed breakfast every morning, included in our room rate, in the resort’s lobby which is cleverly arranged with seating options. The only drawback is that guests constantly come and go and many forget to close the doors behind them, leading to an onslaught of mosquitoes and gnats that plague the area. The food was beyond reproach, with westerners thoughtfully (and maybe a little presumptuously) served eggs, bacon, toast, fruit and yogurt, while the Chinese guests received what looked like a noodle soup.
Twice we ate dinner at Windoo and were impressed each time. The expertly prepared dishes ranged from a hearty meatball and potato Massaman-style curry to succulent eggplant roasted in a clay pot and topped with an egg. There is no dinner menu; the multi-course meals are set by the chef and seem well-suited to both western and Chinese tastes. We were a little nervous when initially booking this hotel, as there are no other restaurants in the vicinity, but it turned out deliciously!
We generally tend not to order fish in China for a variety of reasons, polluted waterways and questionable food safety among them. But Erhai Lake fish is a regional specialty so we gamely gave it a try. I must admit that the flavor was excellent, especially when poached in soy sauce and cilantro, though I would have much preferred a boneless – and eyeless – fillet!