Yangshuo Travel Blog

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The Li River

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 garlic eggplant at cooking school
  Jackie's mom and siblings (she has 3...she was the only one born after the 1-child rule, so they had to pay a fine for her!) live in a village just across the Li River from Yangshuo.  Yangshuo itself has a main area for the tourists (loads of Chinese tourists from the Guilin riverboat cruises, and the foreigners are starting to arrive in earnest) - loads of bars, clubs, restaurants, internet cafes, shops, and coffee places sprouting up all over.  Lots of adventure things to do...mountain climbing, kayaking, cycling in the rice paddies, etc. 

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.

Scenery from lunch at the cooking school
  I was very proud of myself - my chopping skills and wok skills were not too bad - all my stuff tasted great (actually, everyone in the class did a great job...except the one Chinese student!), and then we all ate lunch of what we cooked outside at a long shaded table looking at the mountains.  Great fun.  Had a nice chat with several Brits and a Danish family who confirmed that my father's family will be difficult to look up in Copenhagen because his name (Holger Lund) is a very popular name (kinda like John Smith over there).

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.

Lazing around on the river (notice the scary farmer tan!)
..seen more foreigners here than anywhere), so I had folks asking if they could hop onto our raft to take photos with me.  I took photos of them back.  It was a gorgeous ride - took a billion photos and relaxed on our shaded bamboo lounge chairs.  We had dinner at Jackie's friend's restaurant, Drifters and hung out in some of the expat bars after dinner.

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.

Gorgeous scenery from our bamboo raft
  He was a kindly old guy, so I bought it all.  Helluva lot cheaper than in the States if I need it in the future.  There was a food peddler in the shop selling him veggies when I walked in.  The doctor used an abacus for the math.  Interestingly, my symptoms were gone within the day.  Jackie took this as a sign that Chinese medicine is superior.

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.

My doc in Yangshuo
  It was fun - we were just sitting in a little shop off of a side street.

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!


AmberVM says:
Hi Patty!!!!
Wow!!! I totally love, love, LOVE your last two blogs! They are so amazing and beautiful!! I can not wait to see you and all the amazing pictures and hear about your adventures!! Enjoy your last day's there and have a safe (and quick!) flight back! Miss ya a bunch!
Posted on: Jul 31, 2008
kellylynn811 says:
Great Blog Patty. It is fun to read. I loved Yangshuo. I too did the calligraphy class and bought a stamp of my name. You have explained everything really well in detail! Glad to hear you are having a great time! Safe travels!
Posted on: Jul 31, 2008
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The Li River
The Li River
My garlic eggplant at cooking scho…
My garlic eggplant at cooking sch…
Scenery from lunch at the cooking …
Scenery from lunch at the cooking…
Lazing around on the river (notice…
Lazing around on the river (notic…
Gorgeous scenery from our bamboo r…
Gorgeous scenery from our bamboo …
My doc in Yangshuo
My doc in Yangshuo
photo by: sylviandavid