These are photos from Yangshao and continuing back to Guilin
to finish our tour of Guangxi province.
Going to Yangshao
We checked out of our hotel (make sure you pay the key deposits in cash!) and headed to the port to
board our Li river cruise. From this photo, it's not completely clear, but there are very different
cruise classes. We had an upstairs seat, which meant air conditioning and not baking in the sun!
The food is cooked on the back of the boats (mostly so that they can just toss out their rubbish).
They were working the woks pretty hard even before we left the port.
The Li river is surrounded by steep, vertical limestone cliffs along with green hillsides which make
for pretty photos.
Here you can see the line-up of boats heading downstream. What's surprising is that they only
cruise with passengers in one direction. It would seem that as entrepreneurial as the Chinese are
that they'd find a way to make money running cargo/passengers the other direction too.
The Li doesn't have a huge amount of draft. It appears as though it's regularly dredged. This
group was taking a swim although they can walk almost the complete width of the river.
This is Mural hill. Apparently, one can see up to 9 horses in this hill and the one who
can see all of them is 'Number 1 scholar'. Uh-huh.
The first in our Chinese money tour was the Li river. This is the 20 RMB note spot.
Video of Natalia on a boat
A 'gift' from the cruise company (I would have preferred higher quality food...) was these fans.
Since it was almost 50 deg C along with humidity, the fan did help move some air along.
We arrived to Yangshao and wandered around the town a little. This looked to be a popular spot...
We walked along the West street, which was dominated by fake items manufactured for tourists such as
fake jade, fake silk, etc. Our tour guide Helen told us to buy something if we liked it but not to
expect that it was anything legitimate.
Bike riding in Yangshao
We rented bikes (single speed Giant cruisers that were poorly maintained) and biked out of the city
Video of biking in Yangshao
I found it funny that Helen rode her bike with an umbrella. It's considered poor class for a Chinese
woman to have darker skin. So, even though it was smoking hot, Helen wore arm sleeves to keep her
skin white and also had an umbrella almost everywhere. Most women would almost full-on stare at
Natalia since she was white. Helen actually asked her what 'skin bleaching agent' she used.
We rode into the hillsides along a simple path. Natalia rode around like she was on a tandem bike,
which means looking in all directions except forward.
When we stopped, a few of these older Chinese women tried to sell Natalia something. In this case
it was a wreath for her hair. Natalia wasn't allowed to have money in her pockets since she would
have given it all away to beggars in China.
Mirrors are thought to deflect bad spirits so they are often hung over the doorway of a home.
The combination of the scissors with the mirror is to allow the scissors to cut off bad luck.
This is the entrance to a peasant's home that we visited on our bike tour.
No matter where we went, there were photos of Mao. It's so ingrained into the culture that everything
good in Chinese life is due to Mao. The only other person I can imagine being in a similar position
of deity is Jesus.
Inside the courtyard of the peasant's home. It was actually a very beautiful garden.
It looks like a lot of people stop here to see how regular Chinese live. Obviously, by visiting so
often, this guy is no longer like his peers and is instead part of the tourist economy.
Can you tell it was hot in Yangshao? The farmer gave us watermelon to eat and it was delicious!
You'd never know it looking at this guy, but he's well into his 60s for sure and possibly older.
Our host keeps himself in shape by lifting these heavy stone weights with one hand. He told
me to prove how strong I was so I lifted one with one foot off the ground (that's what he told me to do!)
Natalia got to do the first step of turning soybeans into tofu. Here she is grinding away. We also
got to see these people's coffins, which I guess is somewhat normal to have in your home. Weird.
Here is the floral headpiece Natalia got guilted into buying. She later learned the phrase "Boo Yao!"
which means I don't want any.
We stopped along a lotus field, which I had never seen before.
We stopped towards the end of the road at a spot where people swim and play in the river.
Evening in Yangshao
We checked into an excellent hotel (with much better AC!), great sheets and pillows, and had a little
clean-up before heading to our evening event. I thought this sign was funny.
Dinner tonight was a really nice omelette (good and salty), duck (with the head on!), tough sweet
and sour pork, bok choi, and not terrific thin soup. I would argue that the Chinese have no idea
how to make good soup. Since Natalia still had her braces on this trip, she really struggled with
most of the vegetables since they were hard to chew.
The Impressions show
After supper, we went to the Impressions show, a very impressive 600-person open-air performance
done at night along the river. It was directed by the same guy who did the Summer Olympics opening
ceremonies and the show is full with 2500 people twice a night! Nati thought this may have been
more people than who see Celine in a given night in Vegas.
The show focused on the local people and had fire, impressive lighting, singers, and large collective
dancing. With the limestone peaks as the backdrop, it had a strong imposing feel and impressed me.
We upgraded our seats (300 RMB) to a higher view and appreciated the more comfortable bamboo seats
and the better vantage point. Here you see the hills lit up.
Rowers in canoes made this scene look really cool.
Some of the light show along the side of the 'stage'.
Their finale had a whole load of people with lights on their bodies that snaked around the water.
It looked really cool. Natalia was not impressed by the rudeness of most of the patrons, however, as
they rushed out 10 minutes early to avoid the parking clown show outside.
Our nice hotel in Yangshao. I tried to take photos of all of our hotels, but I know I missed a few.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a grocery store so Natalia could buy gummy worms (I don't
want to think about what the source of the gelatin was), Oreos (tasted like regular Oreos), terrible
Pringles (chicken flavour) and okay Pringles (BBQ).
Making our way back to Guilin
We drove back to Guilin so that we could make our flight from there to Xian. This was a common scene
on the roadways and I really wish I caught this better. This is an open-engine, basically a
rototiller enginer, attached to wheels to drive this cart around. Pretty amazing. Most of this
province would still very much be considered a back water. More about Guangxi province is HERE .
We next came back to Guilin and took a ride up the Yaoshan mountain for a better view of Guilin.
I thought these chair lifts were comical.
There were a couple of enclosed chairs on the lift.
The view from the top of Yao mountain was a little hazy so we couldn't see too much. Even though
Helen called this 'heat haze', I'm offer a pretty solid bet that a lot of this is smog and air pollution.
We saw a little frog on the ground as we hiked around.
Video of Natalia riding down the chairlift
One of the coolest parts of Yao mountain was taking the slide down the mountain. Yippee!
Videos of the slide
The tea plantation
Our next stop was at a tea plantation in Guilin. It used to make tea for the Emperor but now those
teas go to the modern equivalent of that - the local government.
The teamaster, Jack, showed us what parts of the tea leaves are picked when and walked us through the
tea-making process in detail.
Jack had a nice little tea party for us where he bashed every other tea in the world other than
their teas and then guilted Natalia into buying a bunch of tea and teapots that we could have
bought in the markets for about 11 cents.
In fairness, the oolong ginseng was very good tea and left a sweet aftertaste.
One of my favourite dishes in the whole world is pepper beef Yummy! Spicy and flavourful for sure.
We also had pork dumplings served on a cucumber raft and they made a little man out of toothpicks that
I found quite funny.
After lunch, we walked around Fubo Hill. Natalia is pretending to be a gremlin here.
This is a stalactite that is almost touching down. They call this the Sword Stone or something.
This is me ACTUALLY hitting a gong! Natalia's finger is on the lens since we weren't supposed to
take photos (they'd sell you photos).
Natalia and I hanging out on a statue at Fubo Hill.
Our next stop was the Reed Flute Cave. These were all lit up with different coloured
fluorescents and it was actually pretty cool.
Other than the 60 seconds of a lady actually opening a pearl for us, it was mostly a sales
pitch for buying pearls in Guilin. This is at the Pearl Museum (or store). They actually
hosted a fashion show where we were the only guests so that they could show us all the different
ways that pearls could be worn.
Video of the fashion show
Yeah... A whole lot of money later, this lady strung Natalia's pearls for her and she was really
excited to have her very own high end pearls and earrings.
This guy was our driver while we were in Guilin. His name was Mr Tsai.
Here are Natalia and I and our tour guide Helen. You can see why we felt like giants.
I thought this sign was awesome in the men's room at the airport.
Here is Natalia showing off her new pearl earrings and necklace.