Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Guilin: Yangshuo at Night

The first night in Yangshuo, we watched the musical performance of Liu sanjie (3rd sister of the Liu family; in China, you are numbered by your birth order). I missed the performance 3 years ago because my day tour did not permit a stopover in Yangshuo. Liu sanjie was a legendary heroine of the Zhuang people, the tribe who lived in the hills of Guilin. Uneducated but witty and courageous, she became the spokeswoman for the poor hill tribe people against the rich landowners. My hub thinks that the whole story is communist propaganda: poor against rich, uneducated against educated, serfs against masters. You must understand that the movie, which promoted this legend, was made in the 60s, at the time of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The whole movie was performed in songs, just like The Sound of Music and movies of that era.

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I'd say the most awesome thing about the Liusanjie performance was the setting. There must've been at least two thousand of us seated on the stadium seats facing the pitch blackness of the stage. Then, at 7:30 sharp, the lights lit up and you realize that you are seated in front of the Li River, which acted as the stage! That was pretty awesome. I was overcome by the spectacular sight of the lighted mountains, ethereally beautiful and grand. The crowd broke into a spontaneous applause. Suddenly long strips of red rose horizontally along the 'stage', like waves in the river. It was totally characteristic of China's most famous movie director, Zhang Yimoe. You may remember him as the director of Red Lantern and many other award-winning movies.

Overcome by the spectacular, majestic sight of the lighted mountains, the actors in their lighted tribal costumes, the echos of the music bounding off the hills and the cold night air (about 10 C, no wind, nice night), I called my mom from my seat and told her about the show, wishing that she could be there to see it too. I was a little sad to realize that mom with her weakened legs and back may never experience the show. I also realized that one day my own kid may call me from somewhere about a wonderful place or show, but I'd be too old to experience it. Each generation experiences something different that's unavailable to the previous generation.

The show, which premiered in 2004, costs 135 Yuan/RM83/US$23 per person, including transportation and I think it is not to be missed, if you are in Yangshuo. It plays every night but tickets are always sold out even though the seating capacity is about 2500, so do get the tickets from your hotel.

The show ended an hour later and we were sent back to the town. We headed straight for the famous West Street, a street of hip cool shops and bars popular with western tourists, especially in the summer. There was so much to see--magicians, artists who can write your name on a grain of sand, pubs with Russian pole dancers dressed moderately, Chinese and western restaurants, people selling things from chi pao (cheong sams) to candied apples. We finally sat down for dinner at the entrance of the street. We wanted to try Yangshuo's famous dish, beer fish, and settled on a 60 Yuan/RM30/US$8 order. However, I was told to follow the waitress to see the fish and when I they showed me my fish, I was told that the dish would cost me 300 Yuan/RM150/US$42! This was because the 60 Yuan was for 1/2 jing, about 500 gm. I rejected the fish, to the waitress' surprise. I recalled reading about this trick: when ordering fish, remember that the price listed on the menu is for a certain weight, usually 1/2 jing although it is not printed on the menu. After the home-cooked lunch by the Li River and the pricey fish we paid for, we decided we'd try beer fish some other time.

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Brinjals (long eggplant) with salted fish was great.

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The best greens are found in China because, trust me, they are into organic farming. Let me tell you some other time why I wasn't eating much veg in China even though I love Chinese veg.

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Yam and belly pork is another famous Guilin dish but I was disappointed that it wasn't even half as good as Hakka yam and pork.

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As I have 20 guests for Christmas Eve dinner tomorrow night, I have to end here and tell you about West Street in another post. What's your Christmas dinner menu? In most parts of Asia, Christmas dinner is usually on the eve. This year I'm serving:

Apppetiser: gratin crabs & lobster in their shells with a leaf salad

Main: roasted turkey with chestnut stuffing

Sides: 1) beets, pumpkin and apples with a creamy chive dressing 2) potatoes dauphinois

Dessert: trifle, panettone (a healthy replacement for fruit cake) and 2 types of cookies (double choc chips and pecan shortbread)

I should do a soup but I'm stressed. I will have dinner parties at home on 26, 27, possibly 28th and 30th, 31st too! I hope my maid doesn't quit!

Have a very happy Christmas everyone!

8 comments:

Anncoo said...

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas & Happy New Year ;D

zurin said...

the show looks spectacular. I can only imagine. merry Christmas n happy new year Terri!:)

Mina said...

Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family!

Kelly said...

Merry Xmas. This year I did Turkey (Nigella lawson recipe), Potato salad, Spinach salad with bacon dressing, Red velvet cupcakes and Eggnog for a dinner of 6 people. Plenty of leftovers!

worldwindows said...

Guilin and Yangshuo had changed so much from your description. I enjoyed your food adventures. My trip in 1995 was quiet, low-tech and reflective esp for those who enjoyed Chinese poetry. We also hired a taxi for a few days and our flight back to Guangzhou was delayed by fog.

Johnathan Oh said...

Hi Terri, nice feed~! Lots of nice photos to view too. I guess it must be from your daughter's D90 (Envious...). I just came back from Europe from a 18 days trip, so will let you know once the post is up. :)

God bless your family with a blessed and peaceful 2010.

Cookie said...

Hi,

I went to Yangshou back in 2006, and watched the show too. And believe or not, we paid S$75 per pax!!!

Besides, it was a chilly winter so we were suffering in the cold night, and couldn't wait for the show to end!

Glad you had a better experience!!!

Cheers.

Kelly said...

Can't say I liked the show. Paid for premium seats which was something like $75USD.

I saw another Zhang Yimou show in Yunnan and it was better. But still his shows are not much compared to Las Vegas Shows like O.

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