Thursday, January 7, 2010

Guilin: Day 5 Yangshuo

cOur last day in Yangshuo was not a very pleasant one for me. I was out-voted 4:1 against staying in a farmhouse inn 15 minutes outside the town so I wasn't happy.

We were once told that the best time to see a city is to get up early and get to the streets before everybody else. That's what my Hub does everywhere we go because he's a morning person. I made an effort to climb out of bed early on our last day in Yangshuo and we took a walk at about 7 a.m., just when Yangshuo was waking up. And it is true, the place is so different in the early morning. The Li River was only 10 minutes from our inn, and groups of people were doing tai chi excercise. Some stalls were being set up. Amidst all that, my pleasant morning walk turned more and more disgusting as people were revving up their throats and spitting as naturally as they were breathing. The spitters always made a drumroll ("Krarrrkkk!!") before shooting out their sputum. I felt sick even at the sound, learning to quickly avert my glance (and my steps) to dodge the sickening blobs.

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We heard and smelt firecrackers in the peace of the morning and much later, a procession of mourners appeared, led by a guy throwing firecrackers into the air and tailed by a small band of gong players. Family members of the deceased wore the traditional white mourning robes, flanked by assistants on their left and right, and walked backwards facing the coffin. Every few steps, the relatives would stop and kneel. Judging by the pomp of the procession and a paper mache stork/crane (signifying long life) on the coffin, the deceased must've been quite well-off and aged.

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Crispy skinned ducks, each only 18 Yuan/RM9/US$2.50.

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The sign said 'dog meat boiled, stewed, charcoal roasted' but lucky for us the shop was closed. Another exotic meat that Guilin is famous for is horse meat.

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The market was bustling with early morning shoppers. Persimmons were coming to the end of their season and the overripe persimmons were pressed and dried so they can keep longer. They were very tender and sweet, very different from the stale ones we get in Malaysia which usually have a dodgy white powder coating. The green apple-like fruits in front are green dates, very crisp and crunchy but quite bland.

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These strawberries and kumquats were straight off the orchard and very sweet.

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True to my resolve, we had been eating Guilin mifen every single day of our stay in Guilin. However, this was a hard bowl of noodles to eat as I got pretty nauseous by then, hearing and seeing all the spitting around me.

I don't know why but we seem to do caves wherever we go. I think it's the parent in me thinking that it can be educational for my kids. But after the Silver Cave in Yangshuo, I swear I'll never do caves again. Except Mulu Caves in Sarawak, which I enjoyed visiting because it is so interesting and natural. But of all the caves I've visited (many), Silver Cave is the most unnatural I've ever been too.
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Typical of the Chinese love for colors, the caves were lighted brightly with multi-colored lights, turning them into mysterious discos. I was disappointed that there was no prohibition from touching the walls of the caves.

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More horror awaited at the exit of the cave, where lighted ads were nailed to the walls. What a waste of 65 Yuan/RM33/US$9 per person.

We returned to Yangshuo for lunch. By now I was sick of Guilin food. It was always beer fish or yam and pork or veg with waxed bacon. I wondered how it could be that there's so much variety of dishes in Guangzhou and so little in Guilin. Hub said it is because Guilin is very poor. Ming, Wey and I out-voted Hub and Yi for a western lunch at Bar98, a cafe and bar operated by two Australians. The meat pie was reportedly (I read it somewhere on the net) the best in Yangshuo, which, when I think of it now, meant nothing because nobody else served meat pies in Yangshuo.
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This didn't look convincing. The crust was just flour mixed with water.

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It tasted like what it looked: fried beef mince with onions. Ah well, what did we expect anyway. My guess is the Australians were not in the kitchen or maybe not running the inn anymore. I've learnt that travel websites can be very misleading.

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I think Wey had better luck with his breaded chicken.

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Hub and Yi thought they were smarter than us by ordering fried rice instead of western food. The fried rice was disappointing, considering this was China.

We still didn't do what people do when they are in Yangshuo: enjoy outdoors activities. So Hub made us all get on the rented bikes. 10 Yuan for good bikes, free for old bikes from No Name Inn which we moved to on the last day there. No Name Inn is only 2 doors away from Lazy Men's Inn and it was not only cheaper but the rooms are better and much bigger. He thought he was being romantic when he appeared at the inn on a two-seater bike. I felt a little bit silly and spoilt sitting behind him so I pedalled very hard.

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The above 2 photos remind me of Norman Rockwell's painting, The Outing : happy eager faces (well, okay, Wey had a not-so-happy face because he didn't want to cycle) at the beginning of the journey and glum faces on the way home (like a before and after of a courting couple?). Wey acted up like the baby he is and refused to cycle halfway. We were 1/2 hour from Yangshuo. It started to drizzle and turn dark and we nearly left him there. It was Ming who finally persuaded Wey to get on the bike again. Hub and Ming were pissed with Wey and couldn't smile at the camera but Yi was ready with a smile when a camera was pointed at her.

I wouldn't recommend cycling on the highway of Yangshuo. Although the road was wide with bicycle paths on both sides, there were too many vehicles and the air was polluted with their fumes and those of the manure from the veggie farms.
But we did catch some beautiful scenery. There's a famous saying that Guilin's mountains and waters are the most beautiful in China but Yangshuo surpasses Guilin's beauty. I agree.

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My appetite was totally gone by dinner time, and I opted to stay in instead of going for dinner and walking West Street again. I took a hot shower and watched TV while eating a bowl of instant noodles in bed. It tasted so good. It also felt good to be alone for once. I was still sulking about not spending the night at Outside Inn. Hmmphh!

13 comments:

Mina said...

So much fun! Enjoyed this post Terri, keep it coming!

Risa said...

I love reading along with your journey! I'm afraid I'd be the one protesting that bike ride too! Although that view was stunning

Johnathan Oh said...

Nice photos and nice looking people in it too but where r y maám?

Anonymous said...

I know Malaysia is not so bad when comes to spitting in public but, ugh! It was hard when everywhere I went I saw sputum on the ground or hearing people doing this "Krraaaakk". It was disgusting!

Greetings, Jo

Big Boys Oven said...

wow did I saw the flying ducklings doing the trapeze! it's just an awesone exploration you and your family had there! just a true holiday!

Big Boys Oven said...

wow did I saw the flying ducklings doing the trapeze! it's just an awesone exploration you and your family had there! just a true holiday!

triShie said...

a two seater bike!! my!! sure sounds romantic!! but, in reality, who has the harder job? the front or back driver? or, equal?

zurin said...

Wey sulking just made me LOL! he's so funny....my word u must have had a hard time cajoling him...I dont blame him tho... LOL

gourmand extraordinaire said...

The best photo of the lot IMO. The ones with all the buns steaming. Lovely photos!!! Lovely lovely!

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

The strawberries and kumquats look fresh and good.Thanks for sharing and your time.

Christina said...

oh I really enjoy reading your blog :) the last picture is so beautiful!!

terri@adailyobsession said...

mina: yes ma'am

risa: :)

johnathan:m'am too shy

jo: yes disgusting. spitting in public is so terribly inconsiderate n crude n unhygenic. tt's what i hate about asia.

bbo: yes, it seems so long ago. would be nice to hav a hol every 2-3 months

trishie: the front biker i think altho i did pedal hard just to not look idle :D

gourmand: thnak you, too kind :))

sonia: tq for reading:)

christina:the place IS beautiful:)

MARLENE said...

Terri, your comments about Yangshuo brought back memories. LOL! My husband had the same issue with the spitting and felt rather sick throughout our entire 1 month trip.

In fact, I forced a guy to swallow his spit as he was prepared to hurl his you-know-what in a crowded bus and I was literally smack right in front of him.

Love LOVE your photos. I know I've harped on about your first camera but the lens on this one is just incredible. Everything is so crystal sharp! May I know what camera you're using these days?

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