In a blink of an eye, we have been in Dali for two years now. You’d think time would pass slower around these parts given the slower pace but we’re still zipping through the months like the Flash. It’s going to be Christmas again in a bit for crying out loud. Where has the time gone I often wonder. But looking back, I realise our lives have changed quite a bit since the early days. Here’s a look at what we’ve been up to.
Recently we met Jiaming who has been in Dali for more than 10 years. He’s a very gentle and soft spoken guy who has his hand in many pies. One of his latest projects is a weekly Organic Market in Dali Old Town. They sell fresh vegetables and fruits that they grown themselves, even fresh cow’s milk from their own cows. As the weeks go by, more stalls set up alongside selling coffee, tofu, yoghurt and snacks. I told Jiaming about my thriving basil plants in my garden, giving me much more basil than I could possibly eat, and asked if I could sell them at his market. These days, in addition to fresh basil, I peddle homemade pesto and also some sweets made with basil – Basil Lemon Meringues, Pumpkin Cupcakes with Basil Cream Cheese, etc.Arthur sometimes sells his selection of French and Chilean wine as well. The market is slowly getting more popular with crowds coming by to meet up with friends and hang out in the sun. It’s a great way to meet new people and lots of fun.
We started our garden about a year ago and with the rich soil and good climate we’ve had quite a successful run for first timers. We’ve enjoyed some good looking tomatoes, lettuce, pumpkins, eggplants, radishes and lots of herbs. One thing we’ve realised is that our garden is too small for all these vegetables. So, together with some friends we have rented a piece of field not far from our home. The plot is about 1000sqm big and we’ve planted organic wheat mainly, together with some others that take up a lot of space such as pumpkin, cucumbers, melon and so on. We are also planning to build a greenhouse for seedlings. None of us have much experience with farming but we’re learning as we go. I look at it as exercise really, it’s pretty back breaking work but I’m quite sure I’m burning some serious calories out on the field. The local people do a double take and have a giggle when they see laowai (foreigner) farmers on the field. But hey, when in Rome..
I have much more time to experiment and create these days with the house renovations long behind me. I finally have everything in its place and have a good inventory of materials I have. I spend my time experimenting with different techniques and learning what I can achieve. I’ve made keychains, purses, toys, a whole variety of things. But my plan is to develop a line of handmade homewares, decorative and useful items that everyone wants in their home. Rainy days are the best for these experimental sessions I find. There’s something very comforting to me about crafting when it’s pouring outside. Perhaps it’s the fact of having everything you need at that moment right there in your home.
Before we arrived in Dali, we toyed with the idea of running a guesthouse. After a while, we realised that it was not something we would like to do full time. We wanted to have time for other creative projects too. As we only have two guest rooms and we wanted to have some control over the guests we receive, AirBnB was a great solution for us. We just received our first guest review on AirBnB a few days ago. I guess I’m extra happy about it because it represents how far we’ve come. It’s gratifying and we know that we are on the right path to the kind of life we set out to live out. Visit us here!
Indigo Art Studio
Another big step for us is the registration of our company here in Dali. After much longer than we expected and many more hurdles, Indigo Art Studio is official. The name Indigo references the blue colour that is derived from a natural organic compound dye that is popular in the Dali region. More importantly it represents the core of our business philosophy which is to create products and other artistic forms of content with mindful intentions and a purity of techniques. Website and more information coming soon, stay tuned!
Our lease in Dali is for ten years and at the beginning it seemed like a very long time to stay here. But now I wish it was longer even. I like how our life has turned out there, we’re sticking to the plan and it’s paying off. I have a feeling we’re really going to start to grow some roots here. For the moment I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be. So for the next eight years at least, you know where to find us!