How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


Trekking from Guangzhou to Zhongshan

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

We continued on into an industrial area of Zhongshan where I noticed palms along the waterways as I had along the highway (unexpected). Something beeped again on a seat at the front of the bus, but neither the driver nor our guide appeared to care. I almost laughed aloud while I observed one of the men lean into the aisle to watch the road. I realized we were all nervous about Mr. Li’s driving.

At a lull in the loud conversation in Cantonese, Carolyn called out to Russ from the back of the bus. Did he know what the large framed squares and rectangles of water were? Since he sat closer to the front, he raised his voice and addressed Helen, who gave a cryptic answer: fish farms. It’s difficult to tell the approximate sizes as we were not close, and looked downwards from a moving bus. My wild guesstimate is 30 by 30 or 40 feet. A tall apparatus poked out of the center of the sectioned areas and I wondered if might be some sort of filtration system.

Zhongshan Quick Facts

  • Palm trees along highway and waterway seemed strange
  • Squares/rectangles of waterways framed by grassy strips are fish farms (fish ponds)
  • Fish farm water looked clean like a lake or river, but muddy / no rocky bottom
  • These are privately run, but government owned
  • Shacks here and there not for humans habitation, but for tools and supplies for fish farms
  • Usually two, sometimes three rice crops a year
  • More about fish farming here

The French bus passed us traveling in the opposite direction. The driver swung in a wide left turn off the highway into a construction site strewn with pipes and sporting newly planted trees. There wasn’t much room to turn around. At last, quiet reigned and we caught up to the French bus again. Two or three kilometers later, we reached Zhongshan and managed to find our hotel as we trailed the French bus.

After lunch, Sue, Lorena and her husband, Ernesto, went shopping for a half-hour until 2:00 p.m. at outside vendors. The rest of us stood around and chatted. Helen checked on us and announced she was going to the washroom. I followed because I had no idea where to find the Happy House. She walked into the men’s washroom—not an unusual mistake—rolled her eyes and changed direction with a loud laugh. Afterwards, since there was no paper and the hand dryer didn’t work, she offered me toilet paper from her purse. I said I carried my own, but she insisted. I told her I was prepared to dance and shake my hands to dry them if necessary. This is the second time we exchanged words.

The driver and tour guide continued to carry on a loud, spirited discussion. They weren’t quiet for a second. Helen kept playing with her hair, smoothing it and running her fingers through. Neither let up on whatever they were yakking about. He laughed. Nervous? She continued to push him with her voice. His knees bounced up and down. I wished he gave his full attention to driving. At one point he lowered his voice, knee still bouncing, and stared at Helen in the rear-view mirror. She kept nattering for the one and a half-hour bus ride to the hotel. Our English Group Eight kept moving deeper and deeper into the back of the bus since it was empty except for we Canadians. Sue inserted ear-plugs. Someone clapped their hands but it had no effect on the driver and guide.

Helen moved from sitting behind the driver to the seat opposite him. Why?  At least they gave sideways glances at each other instead of talking into the rear-view mirror. I wished Mr. Li kept his eyes on the road instead.

Lily, our previous guide, had mentioned Chinese people were not quiet. I thought I noticed a slight blush when she shared this information.

Helen and Mr. Li finally began a more animated conversation compared to what had sounded like murderous arguing. They smiled and sounded happier and were more relaxed, more companionable rather than quarrelsome. Mr. Li smiled, voice lowered, his face animated.

Sue snoozed and I scribbled in my notebook. She had been disappointed only 30 minutes of shopping had been allowed. She managed to buy another T-shirt and worried shopping around our next hotel may be department stores and not street vendors with whom one might negotiate a better price.

Finally, we arrived at our hotel in Zhongshan around 3:45 p.m.

IMG_0682

Other areas in the lobby:

~ * ~

Next on November 24thth – A Whirlwind Visit in Zhongshan

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. I hope to return but when is the question. Thank you for your faithful reading. I DO appreciate your kind and continued support far beyond my capability to express. Please bear with me.

 


Checking out Guangzhou

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

We’d had enough of Goat Park and were antsy to leave. Helen, our guide, asked I take a picture of her on my iPad. I had no idea why. At the corner of the park where we were supposed to meet, a man fresh-squeezed and sold bottled orange juice. Next to him, a girl toasted acorns in a wok for about two minutes. Helen said they were acorns but I wonder if they weren’t chestnuts. This spot she chose for her photograph.

Then she asked me to email her the photo. I wasn’t set up for e-mail I explained. “Never mind,” she said face pinched and chin dropping. Why hadn’t she given me her cell to take the picture, and why take one at all?

Guangzhou Quick Facts

  • Known for silk, jade, porcelain, ceramics
  • Arts and crafts museum (in Chen_Clan_Ancestral_Hall)
  • Tea
  • Papercuts
  • Old furniture
  • Mostly Buddhist, with some Taoism and Catholic beliefs
  • Opened city to the world with Canton Tree Fair (also the-canton-fair)
  • Chen Family Dynasty gave donation to Chen-Clan-Academy
  • Chen Family gave money (the 1920s) for Chen Family Temple
  • Rice: 2 crops / year
  • Wheat: 1 winter crop (winter wheat)
  • Sun Yat-sen first president of China after 1911 Revolution
  • Died 1925 of liver cancer
  • Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall completed temple built in his name in 1931

Next on our agenda was the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall. 

Helen and the bus driver talked and talked and talked. Somehow it sounded like a family argument. Mr. Li, some 20+ years younger than Helen, chewed his lip more than once and kept his peace. He appeared ticked off over whatever Helen sounded angry about.

Carolyn and Jim moved from the front seat to the back of our full-sized bus because Helen and the driver were so loud. Lorena asked me if I thought it okay to tell them to keep it down. I had no idea, but I said I’d be hesitant as this was their country and we were the foreigners.

At the temple, we toured mostly the outside. This is a tourist trap. The same magnets, jade, embroidery, paintings, doohickeys, and doo-dads were plentiful and on display. One of our ladies bought something expensive and it appeared the tour guide was given a gift. Maybe yes or maybe no.

IMG_0675

 

A young woman, twenty-five or more (maybe less) insinuated herself into our group. She kept bumping into a number of us and me several times. The others in our group succeeded in ignoring her, but she made me uncomfortable because I don’t like anyone so close in my space. After she followed us into a couple of stores, I whispered in Lorena’s ear if she thought the girl a pick-pocket and like magic, the girl vanished.

Lunch

(13-course Cantonese Dim Sum)

  • Beef with tomatoes (not enough beef to go around the table)
  • Sweet and sour chicken
  • Celery / carrots / peanuts and pork
  • Fried rice with fried egg and green onions
  • Spring rolls (tasty but greasy)
  • Fried pork dumplings (looked raw / without taste)
  • Corn coup
  • Egg and chili pancake thing
  • Mushrooms in sauce and a green vegetable I couldn’t identify
  • Sprouts with green peppers, onions, and slivered carrots
  • Potatoes in kind of dough and dipped in sesame
  • Pineapple half-slices (white in color…hmm)
  • Fried cakes with caramel (cardboard texture)

The room we ate in had room for only four round tables. Ours had eight chairs and I assume each of the other tables did as well. We shared the room with the French group and always knew when they had arrived. Their guide always called out, Un. Deux. Trois. He pointed to the tables as if his people were children. Soon, the noise became deafening in the box of a room and I couldn’t wait for lunch to end.

On the bus again, the discussion at the front went on and on. Helen reached across the aisle for her purse at something beeping inside, took a quick glance at us, her passengers, and continued her loud and angry-sounding conversation with the driver.

~ * ~

Next time on November 17th: Guangzhou and on to Zhongshan

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. I hope to return but when is the question. Thank you for your faithful reading. I DO appreciate your kind and continued support far beyond my capability to express. Please bear with me.

 


Flight to Guangzhou

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Luggage had to be outside our rooms at 10:00 p.m. the night before. The wake-up call jangled at 5:15 a.m. and we rushed to breakfast soon after 5: 30.

Breakfast

  • Fried eggs (had to wait for hot steamer refill: were rubbery)
  • Coffee, watermelon, cantaloupe, bananas
  • Buns, strawberry jam
  • Sausage (no knives for sausage or jam)

Breakfast is normally at 6:30 a.m. Who can eat even earlier in the morning? Still, I managed to stuff myself. The offerings weren’t bad (though of limited variety) considering the English eight and the French group (about 30 people) were the only early risers. We were to leave for the airport by 6:20 for an 8:00 a.m. flight. I guess the next breakfast crowd will have our leftovers.

I noticed how the landscape on our (English Eight only) bus trip to the airport changed: less mountainous or maybe just smaller mountains. The French Group was nowhere to be seen.

Lily, our guide, has an apartment in Guilin where she lives with her husband and nine-year-old daughter. They must be doing well enough because she mentioned she bought an apartment in town for her parents. Her husband works at the airport, she didn’t specify his job but confirmed he is not a pilot when someone asked.

Quick Facts

  • Nissan: most popular Japanese car in Guilin (light and good on gas)
  • Costs less than $20,000 USD
  • Insurance per year: $800.00 (imagine that, considering the number of daily accidents

The flight was uneventful this time. Upon our arrival at Guangzhou, a new tour guide awaited by the name of Helen. We guessed her age as fifty-something.  She later introduced our bus driver as Mr. Li, who he appeared to be in his mid-thirties or so. Mr. Li? After landing, the ladies needed the Happy House, but the first two washrooms were full. We continued towards baggage claim and found one which wasn’t busy.

Guangzhou Quick Facts

  • Population: 20 million
  • Area: 11,000 square kilometers
  • Third biggest city in China next to Shanghai and Beijing
  • They have no winter
  • Only three seasons
  • Spring all year round
  • Also known as flower city/spring city
© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles  (Stairway to Five Goats Sculpture)

  • Agricultural city and market: fresh fruits, vegetables, chickens etc.
  • Restaurants crowded with local people, who prefer eating out to cooking
  • Many restaurants
  • Tea enjoyed three times a day
  • Eat two meals a day
  • 100-year old lunch restaurant is the best restaurant
  • Lots of steps because the building here are old
  • Busy shopping area
  • Has the best wood for coffins
  • Long ago locals had a poor life / lived and slept on the river in boats
  • the main occupation is shipping
  • Pearl River is the fifth-longest

Another full-sized bus for us. Of course, I agree, we must be special. Off we drove to Goat Park

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

The story goes: five goats from heaven brought five types of grain, presented it to the locals, and taught them how to grow them. Grateful, the people built the Five Goats Temple. Read more about it here.

~ * ~

Next on November 10th: Guangzhou

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. I hope to return but when is the question. Thank you for your faithful reading. I DO appreciate your kind and continued support far beyond my capability to express. Please bear with me.


Guilin: Elephant Trunk Park

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

I can’t recall when our bus changed from a 12-passenger to a full sized for our tiny group of eight. (Yangshuo or Guilin?) Honest. A full-sized bus! Made us feel special I suppose. After lunch, we headed to Elephant Trunk Park. It was a good day for a slow walk around but soon became boring as we stayed longer than we needed. This time, Chinese girls took a particular liking to Ernesto and begged to be photographed with him. By now we knew they like to have pictures taken with the foreigners.

Quick Facts:                           

  • Guilin is not a big city: population only about 1 Million
  • Guilin has 2 rivers and 4 lakes
  • International football academy is here
  • Known for strawberries and Calamondin (I think). They look like tiny oranges)
  • Lots of foreigners have come to Guilin since 1980
  • Plenty of open spaces / large parks (pay fee) and small ones (free)
  • Many nurseries along the highway/lots of peach trees
  • 90% who come, like it
  • The River Li divides the city into east and west
  • Taxi costs 10 Yuan anywhere (about $1.66 USD)
  • Garbage is collected every single day
  • Biggest pollution from cars and factories, not from garbage
  • Recycling done carefully
  • Some garbage incinerated
  • Government provides rat poison if required
  • Rats not a problem in the city
  • In the countryside, rats are still eaten
  • Welfare for people who cannot work, but a tiny amount
  • Chinese Welfare Lottery is illegal but people buy tickets
  • Selling lottery tickets only allowed if portion goes to social/charity endeavors
  • Ticket sellers probably give just enough to stay under the radar
  • Income taxes: 5% for regular people / 10% for the rich
  • No land taxes because you don’t own the land, but must pay to renew 70-year lease
  • Farmers trust their wells because it’s free
  • Wells do not get tested at all
  • Water supplied by government/cost per amount used like in Canada

After the park, we finally unloaded our luggage and checked out the new hotel. My apologies for the fuzzy pictures. The girl is from a particular ethnic minority, but I’m not sure which one. Our guide was no help.

More Quick Facts

  • Banyan Trees
  • Streets edged by Camphor trees (smell nice and keep bugs away)
  • Cannot make money in this city
  • Government pays to keep out pollution and manufacturing
© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (hotel courtyard)

Dinner:

  • Ying and Yang soup (egg white and green tea for design)
  • Dumplings
  • Panko dipped spring rolls
  • Soy and chili sauces for dipping
  • Carp with celery, water chestnuts, and cucumber
  • Celery, water chestnuts, and pearl onions
  • 3 large (pork balls surrounded by sliced cucumber (center uncooked)
  • battered and spiraled eggplant
  • Batter-dipped chestnuts, deep-fried
  • White rice
  • Orange wedges in skins
© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (The soup)

Our dinner restaurant had many rooms for patrons. The waitress wore something like Bluetooth technology and carried on a conversation with someone as she delivered food. The farther south we went, the angrier the conversations sounded.

Someone cut a piece from one (of three) of the huge pork balls for a taste. The next person cut through the center, revealing raw pork. We all looked at each other. What to do? Finally, the waitress came back serving a nearby table. We waved her over and explained about the raw meat. She continued her funning conversation in the sphere and stopped long enough to inform us it was not raw. She picked up a fork and mashed the pork ball till it flattened. “Is okay.  Is okay. Is okay.” Her voice escalated until it sounded like yelling (maybe scolding). Smacking down the fork, she left in a huff. Needless to say, no-one touched the pork.

No doubt about it, the pace has slowed from the initial fast pace 19 days before.

~ * ~

Next on November 3rd. Flight to Guangzhou

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~ 

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. I hope to return but when is the question. Thank you for reading. I DO appreciate your kind and continued support more than I can express. Please bear with me.


					
		
	


Guilin: Out and About

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Next stop: South Sea Pearl Museum

Upon arrival, we were whisked through a five-minute presentation on the color of pearls. Glassy-eyed, the husbands trailed behind. A runway fashion show followed with five formally dressed beauties displaying pearl earrings, rings, bracelets, and necklaces. Afterwards, we were whisked with a flourish, through double-doors into the salesroom. The room was divided into three sections: good, medium, and best. One of the ladies in our group bought river pearls for 1,500 Yuan (about $250.00 USD. “A bargain,” she said. I don’t wear pearls when I write. No bargain for me.

Quick Facts:

  • Freshwater pearls are an irregular shape (not round)
  • Seawater pearls always round, only white, black and gold
  • Lots of iron in the water = black color
  • Lots of copper in the water = purple, pink
  • Chinese females don’t wear gold pearls as they don’t look good against their skin color
  • North Americans wear pink, white, and black

The store glittered with enough brilliance to blind a stone statue. Hordes of sales staff—all young females—materialized out of nowhere. A sales assistant seemed to be available for every person through the door. The French group had arrived ahead of us and were already engaged in energetic persuasion. I wasn’t interested in pearls and wandered about, but returned to the front of the room where the husbands waited. A bar stool, facing the sales floor, presented an empty seat. I climbed on, a latte and wine bar at my elbow. Free? Not a chance. A convenient price list (in English) hung in full view. I’m grateful I wasn’t thirsty and didn’t bother checking out the prices.

Health Care:

  • A combination of Chinese and Western medicine
  • Western Medicine is faster
  • Chinese medicine has no side effects (so it’s thought)
  • You never want to drink the ‘healthy’ soup (I heard it’s worse than what ails you)

Lunch:

  • Corn soup (the most delicious from all others since arrival in China)
  • Chili and soy sauces
  • Rice with corn, pieces of carrot and egg
  • Celery and chestnuts, stir-fried
  • Sweet and sour chicken with chunks of tomato wedges
  • Hot beef with green peppers and onions in a skillet (awesome)
  • Spring rolls
  • Bamboo chicken ( deep fried, on stick, spicy and delish)
  • Eggplant with tomato wedges and green peppers
  • Soft cooked (egg?) noodles with slivered red peppers and green (?) leaf and stalk vegetable
  • Watermelon slices
  • Tea
© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Today the plates are the largest we’ve had for any meal; bigger than a saucer and larger than a bread-and-butter-plate. Lots of oil used as in most all dishes and restaurants in China, but most delicious lunch I’ve had since arriving in China. Again, I’m stuffed, having scooped only one spoonful of each of the offerings.

After lunch, and for the first time, a liquor was offered at 14 Yuan a shot glass (approximately $2.30 USD), but there were no takers. As well, a bit later, ice-cream and cappuccino were offered. Carolyn thought it was free so she ordered one of each. It turns out it wasn’t free. She turned it down and no-one else was interested either.

Laughs

When your wife catches you with another woman, you are completely finished.

If your wife likes to shop a lot, you are finished completely.

~ * ~

Next on October 27th:  Guilin: Elephant Trunk Park

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~ 

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. I hope to return but when is the question. Thank you for reading. I DO appreciate your kind and continued support more than I can express.


Yangshuo to Guilin

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Breakfast was meager, the second bad one and the worst of the two. We packed our bags and were downstairs for breakfast by about 7:20. The fried eggs were tough and rubbery; sausages were fine; baked beans (I didn’t try); rolls were hard as in stale. For fruit: only halved bananas (cut ends black); sliced white bread; cereals as usual and milk. Coffee and black tea were good.

Lily admitted breakfast at this hotel wasn’t great. “It is the best hotel in Yangzhou and it is a small city; they try their best.” She added this hotel is large and caters to many Chinese travelers as well in another room. Tourists are in separate rooms or there would be a big mess. Really? What kind? In all previous (and larger) hotels, Chinese and foreign travelers had breakfast in the same area—no problem—with countless buffet choices for everyone.

Our luggage had to be outside our room by 8:30 a.m. and was picked up at precisely that time. I snooped when I heard activity in the hallway. We’d packed before breakfast and still had about 40 minutes to read and wait for the bus.

Before we leave this hotel, I must share a discovery. Instead of a sink, the bathroom had a wonderful bowl on the counter, but the faucet wasn’t arranged properly and water splashed all over the counter when in use. I heard a strange sound as the water disappeared down the drain. I turned the water off and on again. Same sound. I had to take a look beneath the sink and laughed my head off.

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

My apologies the picture is somewhat dark: regular pipe leads from the drain as well as through the floor. See the loose plastic tubing in between? It’s just long enough and not secured. I  pulled it out for you to see and wonder if our room was the only one with special plumbing.

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                               © 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

The bus ride from Yangshuo back to Guilin again took 1-1/2 hours. “The ride will be bumpy,” Lily said. She grinned and called it a back massage. Thank goodness the bus had padded seats, not bare wood planks.

As well as our tour company, Lily also works for another one, which caters to Americans who come to adopt Chinese children. She likes being freelance and enjoys meeting people and hearing their stories.

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                © 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

While on the bus, I caught sight of a woman riding her bike in stocking feet. Her boots were tied on the handlebars. I also noticed my first set of twins alongside another sibling. Till now, we’d seen only singular children and mostly boys. I watched a man wash the dirt off his bike with water from a mud puddle, scooping it up with his hands. It wasn’t a fancy operation but appeared efficient. As well, several times I noted a female driving a scooter with a male passenger. Yes, believe it, or not. I wonder if this means she makes better money or is a better penny Yuan pincher? It’s obvious she owns the wheels.

I noticed only a couple dogs during this trip and a pampered few, tightly held, in the city. In the country, we passed several dogs sleeping in the dirt on farms as we made our the way to the River Li cruise the day before.

Approximate Costs of Electronics in USD:

  • ($416) iPad mini – 2500 Yuan
  • ($333) Samsung iPhone – 2000 Yuan
  • $833 iPhone5 (very popular) – 5000 Yuan
  • $333 Regular bicycle (a farmer might use) – 2000 Yuan
  • $100 and up Scooter – 600–700 Yuan
  • Hong Kong has best prices for electronics (and cosmetics)

A five-cubic foot freezer is about 2200 Yuan (approximately $360 USD). Back home we can buy one that size for half that amount. Yes, people in the cities have money to spend, but I didn’t hear a reason why it’s so expensive if this popular here.

Of course, farmers are still behind the times with old washing machines or none, and no freezers. They don’t have electricity anyway.

~ * ~

 A Couple Chuckles, Chinese Style:

When a husband likes shopping, his wife does not.

When you marry the right woman, you are complete. When you marry the wrong one, you are finished.

~ * ~

Next on October 20th – Guilin: Out and About

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~ 

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. I hope to return but when is the question. Thank you for reading. I DO appreciate your kind and continued support more than I can express.


Yangshuo: Water Buffalo and Shopping

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

After our cruise on the River Li, we traveled once again by bus to Yangshuo. We’d paid for an optional tour to visit a rice terrace, but it had been canceled. However, Lily was kind enough to stop along the road for picture taking. She chose places where less traffic passed on the highway, not where everyone found the area interesting for photographing.

Lunch

  • Breaded lemon chicken (overcooked, hard and dried out)
  • Fried rice with egg – bowl shape (dried out)
  • Ground pork and sticky rice balls (delicious)
  • Corn soup
  • Fried green beans with ground pork (too salty)
  • Mushrooms, eggplant and 2 – 3 carrot slices
  • Slivered peppers, onions and small strips of chicken
  • Broccoli (yay)
  • Sweet and sour pork with red peppers (salty sauce, tough as leather)
  • Spring rolls

This is the first time I hadn’t had much good to say about the food. Are you shocked? The rest of the group praised lunch. If I compared these offerings to yesterday’s dinner I preferred dinner; everyone else said dinner was terrible. Really? Still, I hadn’t been hungry once in China because I couldn’t eat my fill. I usually try a little bit of everything on the menu and am easily full but eat too much anyway.

My father had a saying, “No matter what, praise everything, even when not to your liking.” I’ve never liked this type of thinking, but socially we all do react in a similar fashion most of the time. White lies and stretching the truth are a constant in our lives. Pity, social situations demand them.

Shopping at West Street

Sue sped off alone. She likes shopping on her own as she can move at her own speed without rushing or slowing a companion. Bonnie and I paired up. Neither of us had grand plans of buying anything. I’m not much of a shopper.

http://www.travelchinaguide.com/picture/guangxi/yangshuo/west-street.htm

She did buy some costume jewelry: a couple Cloisonne look-alike bracelets, and I broke down and bought a necklace for my daughter. Neither was expensive. I found similar bracelets run around $25.00 each online, but she didn’t pay anywhere near that, nor did I.

Images of Real Cloisonne Jewelry

Meanwhile, Bonnie’s husband wanted to explore and climb also called Bilian Peak Green Lotus Mountain), but access was closed due to reconstruction. He took wonderful photos as he wandered along the River Li. “Much better than shopping,” he said.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Afterward, the afternoon was free. I stayed at the hotel to rest and read. Sue and some of the ladies opted for massages, priced around $20.00 USD for an hour’s workout.

Supper Monday (at another hotel, not the one we’re staying at)

  • Tomato and egg soup
  • Breaded lemon chick with corn, (chewy, hard and over-cooked)
  • Fat French Fries
  • Steam white rice
  • Sweet and sour pork
  • Eggplant (in tasty sauce)
  • Ham with sprouts, cucumber sliced small and green onions
  • Beef and onions
  • Finely sliced vegetables (a mystery but tasty)
  • Orange slices with skins on for dessert
  • tea

One of the men from our English Group 8 invited Lily, our tour guide, to eat with us, but she declined. It is company policy guides not eat with the clients. Why? Because it’s policy. The guide with the French Group, sat with his people all the time we told her. She made no comment. I wonder if the French guide had come with his group all the way from Montreal.

Lily had a room at the same hotel we stayed at a floor above us, same as had Lisa. Our previous guides, Robert, Jackie, and Steve lived in their respective cities and went home at the end of each day.

~ * ~

Additional Rice Field Images

~ * ~

Next on October 13th:  Yangshuo to Guilin

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~ 

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. I hope to return but when is the question. Thank you for reading. I DO appreciate your kind and continued support more than I can express.


Yangshuo to River Li

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

After breakfast, the bus driver headed through the Yangshuo countryside to the Li River.

Quick Facts

  • Yangshuo is known for pomelo and persimmon trees
  • Smoking and drinking the hardest vices to control
  • Cigarettes very cheap: as low as $1:00 per pack
  • 90% of men smoke
  • Restaurants have ‘No Smoking’ signs but cannot enforce (afraid to lose customers)
  • Cigarettes bring in taxes (so no smoking not yet imposed)
  • Phoenix Tail Bamboo is used to make clothes and underwear, softer than cotton

More Quick Facts

  • Chinese people are never quiet; always talking about everything around them
  • They cook and eat dog here, using lots of spices to flavor the meat (i.e. orange peel)
  • People in the country don’t like their pictures taken because you are stealing their spirit (shorten their lives)
  • Don’t like pictures taken of babies, especially, but sometimes, they will charge money (?)
  • Because of tourists, the locals make a good life
  • Vegetable stands everywhere tourists pass
  • Homegrown vegetables + rice, fruit
  • Countryside littered with paper and garbage until you reach the city

Tidbits

At the concert the previous night, no-one clapped, no-one shut-up; everyone had a camera taking pictures and videos. A sea of cameras lit up the dark like candles throughout the audience. What a sight.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All land is owned by the government. If you want to build a house, you must apply to the Village Committee (like a village government) and apply to lease the land for 70 years. Sometimes, you can renew the lease and pass your house, apartment, condo or especially farms, until the government has other plans for the land your family has lived on for hundreds of years.

We stopped at an old farmhouse along the way to the River Li for our cruise. Here a Caucasian tourist tries out the old-fashioned broom.

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                 © 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Down a country road, lined with stands of food and trinkets for sale, we followed Lily, our guide. The people stared at us and we tried not to stare back. Our cruise boat was old and rusty, run by locals and not what I’d call clean. No health and safety issues here. The gangplank had wood rot (holes in it) and I stepped carefully. We sat topside instead of inside on old wooden chairs (and a couple new benches) as the weather was co-operative. The locals must earn a living any way they can. Of course, there were trinkets inside for tourists as well as soft drinks.

We were about 25 tourists onboard. One woman with her son and daughter and another mother with her daughter (all in early teens) and a couple families of flip-flop-clad Australians with six youngsters between six and 14 were all onboard. I felt in good company in my flip-flops. No way could I have worn runners. My feet at this point felt broken.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We passed water buffalo on the shore and for the first time, noticed countryside litter: plastic bags and empty cigarette packages. Electrical towers were seen in the weirdest places, in the middle of nowhere, but most farmers still live in the old ways. They have a well, but no plumbing.

Winter (January / February) is not good for tourists. It is too cold and there is no heating system here. One must sleep in a coat. On the other hand, summer is hot and humid and the opposite around July. Another drawback, the water level is high on the River Li and not good for water travel because it is too fast and dangerous.

~ * ~

River Cruise Additional Links:

http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/guangxi/guilin/li_river.htm

~ * ~

Next on October 6th: More Yangshuo on to Guilin

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

* * * 

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. I hope to return but when is the question. Thank you for reading. I DO appreciate your kind and continued support more than I can express.


Yangshuo: More Countryside

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

After the tea ceremony, we (rich) tourists were whisked into another salesroom. Inside, various teas were for sale, as were copious types of teapots and tea sets. Some cost almost as much as my all-inclusive holiday in Canadian dollars. I stepped back, hands tucked in close to my sides for fear of an accident. Had I even paid attention to how many pieces made up a set? No, I’d been too petrified to look considering the cost. I waited by the door like a child.

Before continuing on to Yangshuo by bus, the ladies inquired about the facilities. We traipsed down a long corridor to a small, clean washroom. Inside were two stalls with pedestal toilets. Wow! The cubicles had (approximately) three-foot wide shutters for privacy installed in about the middle of the door frame. Picture a restaurant kitchen door hung lower than usual. Anyone might look over the top as she walked past. The one I used didn’t have a proper latch to secure it and I laugh remembering my gymnastics securing the door and… you know.

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Have you ever seen such a small truck with this impossible load of wood on its roof? How’d anyone get it loaded anyway?

The highways were unbelievably neat and clean. No garbage, paper, or plastic were in evidence anywhere as all the highways we’d been on so far.

Pretty countryside surrounded us along the way to Yangshuo

Quick Facts:

  • Famous for the limestone mountains
  • Grow lots of strawberries
  • Foot massage is only $20.00 USD
  • Zhuang is China’s largest ethnic minority (about 16 million) who like singing
  • Zhuang choose lovers while singing folk songs (a means of courting)
  • They hold an annual Folk Song Festival
  • National Flower: Bauhinia
  • Li River is smaller than the Yangtze and shallow
  • Also home to Dragon River and four lakes
  • Lots of nurseries: grow trees for planting
  • The land is government owned (as in all of China). Must renew lease every 70 years.

The countryside viewed from the bus: newly planted fields, farmhouses, and water

At last, we arrived at the hotel. Time to freshen up and have dinner. The hotel appeared too quiet as we settled at a table in an empty dining room. All throughout dinner we saw only the waitress.

Dinner Menu:

  • Tomato soup
  • Rice
  • Egg pancake
  • French Fries
  • Sweet and sour pork with pineapple
  • Thin noodles with shredded carrots
  • Sliced cucumbers and sliced cooked chicken
  • Cooked sliced celery and water chestnuts
  • Cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots, mixed
  • Fermented tofu
  • Chili sauce
  • Soy cakes and sweet dip + soy sauce
  • Battered banana, deep-fried, with caramel

The smell from the bathroom invaded the dining-room. I couldn’t understand such a thing in a hotel of this significance. Phew. I hadn’t been aware of anything like this elsewhere. I asked Sue about it, but she hadn’t been conscious of anything unpleasant.

After dinner, we rushed to attend an open-air performance (see video below). By the time we arrived in the main park the sun had gone down. At first small clusters of people walked around us with lots of breathing space in between. By dusk, the crowd swarmed like a maelstrom with a mind of its own. I hugged my bag against my chest, arms tucked in as close I could manage. Our English Group Eight clung together with Lily, our guide, ahead of us and tried desperately to keep her in sight. She stopped a couple of times and waited. What made the situation worse was the dark. There were no park lights. I felt blindfolded. Never have I experienced this tight a convergence of bodies around me. I confess terror struck me for the first time since we’d arrived in China; terror the crowd might rip me from my fellow travelers; the terror of being lost and disoriented in a foreign country where I could not see.

Lily left us to buy entrance tickets and suggested we wait while the crowd thinned out before taking us to our seats. She wasn’t allowed to sit with us. We took our seats after she explained where we’d find her when the performance ended.

Our seats were good in about the third tier up. The show was like nothing I had ever seen. This video doesn’t do it enough justice. You had to be there. The Chinese sure know how to put on stunning presentations! Enjoy.

Excellent show “Impression Liu San Jie” (in Yangshuo)

Credit: Uwe Völker

~ * ~

Next on September 29th: Yangshuo: More Countryside

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

* * * 

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. I hope to return soon. Thank you for reading. I DO appreciate your kind and continued support more than I can express.



To Yangshuo: Countryside

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

I had to catch my breath as we rushed through the zoo. Next on the agenda was a local flight to Guilin. We had to get our luggage checked and be ready to board by 11:10 a.m. for an hour flight. There were no unexpected surprises at the airport this time: no wands shrieked, nor gongs rang; no high-pitched voices nor thumping feet. Everyone had packed properly; no one wore heavy metal except for one tour member’s knee implant.

A boxed lunch was served on board again, but I don’t recall what had been on offer.

Upon landing, our new tour guide, thirty-something Lily, met us at the airport. She was an attractive young woman, dressed in cold weather fleece pants and jacket. She appeared reserved but approachable.

IMG_0615

Guilin Quick Facts

  • Population Guilin: 1 million, includes 5 urban districts. Total equals 4.7 million
  • Lots of Limestone mountains
  • Yao Mountain only earth mountain, also the highest
  • Small buildings only up to five storeys high
  • Lakes and two rivers
  • Have 4 seasons
  • Living standard is okay
  • Tourism main source of revenue
  • Tax-free for business
  • Minority regions, tax tree
  • Good transportation
  • Major fashion manufacturers: Shanghai & Kenton
  • Southern port of China

We were surrounded by limestone mountains from the airport to Guilin. What a sight to see.

Known for:

  • Specialty chili paste; local taste is hot
  • Herbal medicine
  • Fermented tofu
  • Persimmons, kumquats, oranges
  • Local wine (53% made from rice), named: Three Flower
  • Natural wine quarry
  • Local beer: Lee Cham
  • Hometown of local painting
  • Ocean pearls about 300 miles (km) from Guilin
  • 10 army bases present because close to Vietnam border
  • Rice has two crops a year. Ninety percent of rice farmers suffer rheumatism and arthritis

IMG_0603

Frolicking in a tea field. I couldn’t balance the hat on my head.

Tea Quick Facts:

  • Guilin area is known for Chinese Tea
  • Tea Institute does research on tea properties (founded in 1965 near Yao Mountain)
  • Same tea bush, different tea from different parts of the bush
  • Tea picking is in the morning
  • Osmanthus tree, a relative of cinnamon (use only flowers not bark for tea)
  • Flower tea: Jasmine, Osmanthus
  • Green tea has caffeine, radiation-resistant for people use computers for long hours
  • White tea regulated and produced in limited quantities for export
  • Oolong tea, you must have clay pot (color is red but like black tea) but different taste

Tea Disruption

  • Most popular tea? Depends on age group and type of job (social standing)
  • Tea for modern people: “Pu-Erh” tea compressed into a hard block
  • Puer tea (expensive) you cut off a piece to make tea
  • Puer tea: good for stomach, detox high cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, rheumatism and good for losing weight

We were invited to a tea tasting after the tour. I wasn’t fond of most of it. One couple liked the Pu-Erh tea  and bought a box. It wasn’t cheap and looked like a block of tar.

.

~ * ~

Additional Information:

Tea farm outside Guilin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_Bzr8s45i8

How do they make it? Puer Tea Production:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6mewXlWlmY

 ~ * ~

Next on September 22: To Yangshuo -Countryside

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

* * * 

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. I hope to return soon. 
Thank you for reading. I DO appreciate your kind and continued support more than I can express.