Yangshuo Travel Blog› entry 7 of 8 › view all entries
We took a 2-hr flight to Guilin (Gway-lean) and drove an hour and a half to Jackie's hometown of Yangshuo. The cab ride was gorgeous the whole way: rice terraces, water buffalo, farmers in coolie hats, and those spectacular karst mountains that are even prettier in person. Truly stunning scenery here. They just make the most amazing shapes. I was worried it would rain here (it can be very rainy this time of year, plus there's a typhoon heading this way), but it was sunny, hot, humid, and a little hazy.
The town has become a backpacker mecca in the last 8 years.
My first day I was signed up for the Yangshuo Cooking School. They drove us to a house in the country with a gorgeous view of the mountains, and taught a group of us how to make several Yangshuo specialties: garlic eggplant, chicken with crunchy cashews and beer fish, plus a few pork-stuffed appetizers: mushroom, fried tofu ball and zucchini flower.
After lunch, Jackie met me and we went on a bamboo raft down the Li River. It's shallow, so it's kind of like a gondola - we had an 18-yr-old kid manning the pole behind us. I was seemingly the only laowai on the river (although there were a lot of them in town.
The next day I was still having lingering problems from my stupid bladder infection and my penicillin ran out, so we went to a Chinese doctor who spoke some English. I was ready to try anything. He was lying down in the back of a small shop open to the street. He asked me my symptoms (no exam), and just handed me like a MONTH's worth of amoxicillan, which cost about $6. I really only needed like a day or two, according to my internet research.
I signed up for a calligraphy class. Got myself a chop (name stamp) with my name translated into Chinese characters (they all have a big book of names with the Chinese equivalent next to it). Then I took a Mah Jongg class...the game requires 4 people, and the lady's 8-yr-old daughter kept trying to be one of the hands, then got bored and took off, then came back to finish the game.
The rice paddies were a long drive away, so I just had a few hours to do some hard bargaining in the outdoor market and walking down the river taking photos of the mountains between the fanned-out bamboo and chatting with every student who asked if they could practice English. At first I thought it was a scam and I was holding my bags tightly, but then I realized they were really just trying to chat in English. They get better jobs if they do. Ran into a bunch of guys (I thought they were in their teens...Jackie said mid-20's) who knew more about American politics than I do. This one kid read all the biographies and autobiographies of our presidents and was keenly following the election. Again, Clinton was very popular here...he visited Yangshuo too, and the guide who took him around was pointed out to me as a local celebrity.
People are fascinated with Obama and have no idea who the other candidate is. They're fascinated with all dark-skinned folks (and light-skinned folks) here...I've heard tales of people asking if the color washes off and wanting to touch it. But tanning is considered bad because it means you have to work outside, and are probably poor. There are all kinds of products to whiten your skin. I had trouble just finding a regular, non-whitening moisturizer, and even Olay peddles whitening crap here.
Next stop...Shanghai...then home... : ( ... still too much to see here!