I've mentioned before that West Street in Yangshuo is the place to be if you're in town. Unlike Nanjing Lu in Shanghai or in Beijing Lu in Guangzhou, West Street still retains some old world charm although I think most westerners have left town as it is now very commercialized. Once a fav place for westerners who come and stay for months, the street still has many western cafes and pubs and there are more westerners here than any other place I've seen in China. However, Chinese tourists from other parts of China far outnumber any foreign visitors now.
We spent nearly every night on West Street, prowling through the shops and restaurants. My girl especially didn't seem to get enough of shopping, window-type or otherwise. I got pretty tired of it after two nights (we were there for 3 nights) and it was rather chilly to be out. I checked out a couple of inns on West Street and found that we didn't get a good deal at Lazy Men's Inn, so please take my advice and avoid the place. Most rooms on West Street were going for 80 Yuan/RM40/US$11 , cheaper by 40 Yuan than our place which was 5 minutes from West Street. Of course, if you live right on West Street, it may be too noisy but I found Cafe Too & Hostel (7 Chengzong Rd) next to West street very quaint and clean. At 80 Yuan for a double bed, I'd certainly sleep there next time. I also found B. BTang Youth Hostel (Furong Rd, near Lisa's Mountain View Lodge Tel: 0773-8886856) very hip with its operators in their 30s, jazz music from the bar and a very western cafe on the ground floor. Lazy Men's Inn, where we stayed for 2 nights was just 30 steps behind B.BTang yet we didn't check the place out until our last day in Yangshuo (sigh). I didn't quite like Rosewood Inn because it was bigger and more commercialized. Besides, all that pinewood (not rosewood) seemed liked they were trying too hard to be quaint. My advice is to not panic; there are so many inns on West Street you'll never have to sleep on the street.
Although very touristy, West Street has charming little shops selling a wide range of interesting trinkets.
Some of the cafes are very Pearl S. Buck, like 7th Heaven Cafe & Hostel.
Cafe Too & Hostel has a little book library and cafe on the ground floor. A decent, clean bed room with twin beds is only 80 Yuan/RM40/US$11.
The hills of Guilin appear everywhere and remind you that you are in a natural, romantic and beautiful place and it was almost like what I imagine Kathmandu would be like...
I read somewhere that Drifters serves some of the best western food in town so we sat down for an afternoon snack. This chicken schnitzel was finished quickly by Wey who was by then sick of Guilin food which has too much chilies and not much meat.
The pizza looked good but the tomato base was barely there and the ham was some kind of Spam.
Drifter's best item was supposedly apple crumble. The apples were grated and, like the crust, were very bland. I controlled my urge to go into the kitchen to teach them make good apple crumble. My kids were teasing me about eating western food in China but hey West Street isn't called West Street for nothing.
While I didn't think much of Drifters' food (which I can understand would be good if you are a westerner who's been away too long), I love their rustic tables, made from rough sawn planks of solid wood. So much character in those gnarled holes.
This fella was very deft with his magic hands.
For 20 Yuan/RM10/US$3, you can learn a magic trick. My hub and Ming bought two tricks and the guy is seen here teaching them. Wey couldn't care less because for once I'm letting him play games on the phone.
Yi had a 10-minute sketch of herself on a T-shirt for 40 Yuan/RM20/US$5.50.
I bought a couple of hand-painted bottles from this lady but my kids think she was faking it because they pass her by every night and she was always working on the same bottle.
Knitted and hand-sewn cloth shoes for toddlers.
Turn your tongue up and run it against your palate. Pig's palate anyone?
BBQ chives and beef.
West Street was so interesting that we could only tear ourselves away for dinner at 11 pm. Since we were going to order Yangshuo's most famous dish, beer fish, we decided to pare down by ordering only two veg dishes to go with the fish. This bean curd sticks dish was very good.
Veg with dried Chinese bacon (la rou). I love the veg in China (so fresh!) but was beginning to feel sick whenever I see them because I saw with my own eyes on a veg farm that veg in China are very organically grown--organic as in human excretment organic, believe it or not.
Beer fish. The scales of the fish were edible and the flesh was very sweet and fine but there were too many bones. The beer was not too strong and the chilies and tomatoes gave the dish a robust stewey flavor. Nice but again the fish was sold by 1/2 jing (about 500 g) so you must do the math before ordering. I think this restaurant was Chendajie (Big Sister Chen) Beer Fish Restaurant.
Yangshuo at night is lively and fun, and made me feel like I'm in Disneyland, where everybody's on holidays and happy. We'd been out since morning but with the cold air and carefree atmosphere, I felt young and alive and happy.