Monday, December 21, 2009

Guilin: Day 3 Yangshuo

We packed all our luggage for our trip to Yangshuo because the Education Hotel wouldn't let us keep our luggage there for 2 days.

The bus fare from Guilin to Yangshuo was 18 Yuan/RM9/US$2.50 per person and the journey was about 2 hours, maybe less. On arrival at the Yangshuo bus station, we were mobbed by a bunch of women who jostled to get us to their hotels. They wouldn't leave us alone and walked down the street with us, sometimes even grabbing my arm to make me look at the photos of the hotel rooms. Finally, two blocks down, I turned to the most persistent woman and told her she was annoying. She countered by telling me not to come to Yangshuo with my attitude. But they still followed us, and we went into a hotel for refuge. The women hung around outside the hotel, waiting for us. Then Hub had a good idea: we leave the kids with the luggage in the hotel lobby, get a taxi and come back for them.

And that was how we met Xiao Jiang ("Little Say") who lived up to his name. He seldom talked unless you talked to him and even then he may not answer you.

Xiao Jiang took us to Lan Ren Tang (Lazy Men Inn), a cosy little place where we took a 3-beds room for 120 Yuan/RM60/US$17 and a 2-beds room for 80 Yuan/RM40/US$11. I had read some where that when in Yangshuo, you must stay in home-run inns and not big hotels. The hotel that we had taken refuge in had typical hotel rooms of stained carpets and furniture.

Our first stop was to experience a 'rural home-cooked lunch' in a home-run restaurant by the Li River in the countryside. Xiao Jiang had grown up around that area and knew the lady who ran the place. She was the owner, waitress and cook. Her mother (or MIL?) was her assistant, and together they also cultivated a plot of land with veggies and reared hundreds of chickens and ducks. Fish was caught from the river. We were amazed by the country setting, with the jagged hills of the river as back drop, the river running by, chickens and ducks scuttling around, home-made sausages and bacon drying in the sheds and the little dining huts by the river. However, as in most rural places in China, rubbish was everywhere and I couldn't help feeling frustrated when I compare China with Japan. Most people think Japan is more beautiful than China when in fact China is just as (or more) beautiful than Japan but the place is just not well-managed. People spit everywhere and rubbish is strewn away like confetti. China is like a beautiful girl doesn't wash her hair or brush her teeth. Beautiful from far.

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A common scene this time of the year in China: home-made sausages and bacon drying in the winter wind.

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Setting for our lunch was a hut over the Li River, with the sharp Guilin hills in the back.

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We watched the lady pull in her nets containing 4 small gui fish from the Li River. She cleaned them live and marinaded them with salted soya beans, ginger strips, spring onions and soy sauce and placed them to steam, their tails and fins flipping.

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We heard chickens clucking like mad and saw the older lady came forward with a village chicken and she proceeded to cut its throat. My kids ran away while I hung around to watch them cook.

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Steamed gui fish, very tasty.

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Village chicken eggs.

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Chinese celery stir fried with Chinese bacon (la rou), very delicious!

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Village chicken stir-fried in soy sauce, another yummy dish.

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We didn't like this dish of purplish greens, which had a flavor and taste we weren't used to.

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Village chicken mushroom soup, a little too oily for us.

Hub declared this meal the best so far and it was superb even though it was common home-cooked dishes. But I would've enjoyed it more if the place was cleaner and the huts less rickety. But still, it was quite something to eat fish from the Li River in a hut built over it. And then the bill came: 282 Yuan/RM140/US$39, which was twice as much as our dinner the first night in a good restaurant in Guilin called Northern Nation Village (no photos to show as Yi lost the memory card). That was also the most expensive meal we had for the whole trip. The little gui fishes cost 104 Yuan/RM52/US$14. We had committed one big mistake: always ask the price first. Looked like Xiao Jiang pulled a fast one on us.

About 10 to 15 minutes away from Yangshuo is The Giggling Tree, possibly the best inn to stay if you go to Yangshuo. Unfortunately we were already checked into The Lazy Men Inn but here are some shots taken at The Giggling Tree, a village house renovated and run by two Dutchmen. At 210 Yuan/RM105/US$29, The Giggling Tree is considered pricey for Yangshuo standards but it definitely looked like a good bargain to me. The inn reportedly serves the best western food in Yangshuo.

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Another great place to stay is Outside Inn (get it?) which you may see is advertised on my Goggle Banner. Only 120 Yuan/RM60/US$17 per room for this authentic farm house turned inn. It looked like Tuscany in China to me! I wanted to spend our last night here, away from the town, but was voted 4 : 1 because the others couldn't appreciate living out in the countryside. I could just imagine it: walking around the village and checking out the people cooking their dinners, waking up to sounds of farm animals and cycling around the village. But no, my kids and Hub preferred not to live in the country. Yet if they go to Tuscany, they'll willingly pay more to live in a Tuscan farm house.

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The Dutch seem to like Yangshuo because, like The Giggling Tree, a handful of Dutch were lazing around the patio of Outside Inn. Under the hands of the yang ren (westerners) or gwei lo (devil people), these two inns are rustic, charming, cosy and clean. Now maybe that's just what China needs--yang ren to spruce up the places since they are doing a bad job themselves.

6 comments:

Bunnies said...

I enjoy reading your blog very much! I really must admire your courage to venture to China.. I remembered my one and only visit there and was shocked beyond words. I find the people there rude and obnoxious! Hate the pollution and dirt and at some part, obscene way of life. I wont venture there ever again, well, maybe for the next decade or two.

The pictures you took are very pretty and it shall be the "eyes" for me as far as China is concern.

J2Kfm said...

Nice post this one. True, I'd take up the chance to stay in those rustic environment as well, though the matter of hygiene may be of concern.

A little pricey yes, but since this was the BEST meal of the journey so far, shouldn't be a matter, no?

Sonia said...

I really enjoy reading your post, and that celery dish look really yummy !! as usual, awesome shots !!

zurin said...

Lovely pics Terri...love the rusticity of the last few fotos. The food looks good but quite xpensive !

Litle say! LOL lovethose names...

Big Boys Oven said...

just awesome reading about your trip, just fabulous!

Gan said...

Reading your Guilin sojourn. I am planning to go end of the month. Do you have the Yangshuo lodging -The Giggling Tree or Outside Inn no. please?

Thanks

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