How the Cookie Crumbles

Life in the fast and slow lanes after SIXTY-FIVE


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.

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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.

 


57 Comments

Day 18, Part 2 – More Yangshuo

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 cancelled. 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, however 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 and not hold anyone up or wait for them. 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 her husband wanted to explore and climb Bilian Peak (also called Green Lotus Mountain), but access was closed due to reconstruction. He did take some wonderful photos as he wandered along the River Li. “Still much better than shopping,” he said.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Afterwards, the afternoon was free. I stayed at the hotel to rest and read. Sue and some of the ladies opted for massages. I recall they were 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 he’d come with them 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 March 6: Day 19, Part 1 – Yangshuo to Guilin

For more related posts, click on China tab at the top of the page

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


34 Comments

Yangshuo: Day 18, Part 1 – River Li

After breakfast the bus drove through the Yangshuo countryside on the way to the River Li.

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
  • 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. In the dark a sea of cameras lit up the dark like candle throughout the audience.

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 at them. Our cruise boat was old, rusty, not what I’d call clean and run by locals. The gangplank appeared to have wood rot (holes in it) and I stepped carefully. We sat topside instead of inside on old wooden chairs and new benches as the weather was co-operative. 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. No way could I have worn runners. My feet at this point of our trip 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 farmers still live in the old ways. They have a well, but no plumbing.

Winter (January / February) are 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 February 27: Day 18, Part 2 –More Yangshuo 

For more related posts, click on China tab at the top of the page

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


79 Comments

Yangshuo: Day 17, Part 3 – Countryside

After the tea ceremony, the (rich) foreigners were whisked into a sales room. 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, my hands tucked in close to my sides for fear of an accident and breaking up a set. Had I noticed how many pieces made up a set? No, I’d been too petrified.

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) inside cubicles with (approximately) three-foot wide shutters for privacy installed in about the middle of the door frame. Anyone might look over the top as she walked past. The one I used didn’t have a proper latch to secure them shut. I hadn’t been this good at gymnastics ever before.

© 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 it’s roof?

The highways were unbelievably neat and clean. No garbage, paper or plastic were in evidence anywhere the same 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 Yangtze and shallow
  • Also home to Dragon River and four lakes
  • Lots of nurseries: grow trees for planning
  • Land is government owned (as in all of China). Must renew lease every 70 years.

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

At last we arrived at the hotel. Time to freshen up and have dinner. The hotel appeared empty and too quiet. We were 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. By the time we arrived in the main park dusk had fallen. At first small clusters of people walked around us with lots of breathing space between us all. 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 out in the open. 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; terror of being lost and disoriented in a foreign country and in the dark.

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

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Next on February 20th, Yangshuo: Day 18, Part 1 – Li River

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© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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Chongqing: Day 17, Part 2 – to Guilin Tea Plantation

I felt rushed through the zoo and we were. 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 rung; no high-pitched voices nor thumping feet. Everyone had packed properly and wore no heavy metal.

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, who appeared reserved, but approachable.

  • 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

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  • Small buildings only up to five storys 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.

  • 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

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

Tea Quick Facts:

  • Guilin area 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 (colour is red but like black tea) but different taste

Tea Disruption

  • Most popular tea? Depends on age and type of job (social standing)
  • Tea for modern people: “Puer” 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 much of the tea. One couple liked the Puer tea and bought a box.

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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

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Next on February 13th, To Yangshuo: Day 17, Part 3 – Countryside

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© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles