31.01.2013 - 02.02.2013 23 °C
Alice here again! Our final destination in China, the small town of Yangshuo.
Thursday 31st January
Made our first transport error this morning trying to get from our hostel in Guilin to Yangshuo, taking the right bus to the station, but in the wrong direction, oops! We realised our error when we got off after the 5 stops we had been told to take, to find ourselves on a random road with a few shops and not much else. Luckily it didn't take long for another bus to take us in the right direction, and we made it to Yangshuo by lunchtime.
Yangshuo is the smallest place we have visited, but is still a reasonable sized town. The scenery around this area in incredible, the town sits between the Li and Yulong River and is surrounded by huge Karst rock formations (so famous in China that a picture of the area is found on the back of 20 Yuan notes). Unforutnately we arrived on a grey, rainy day, which spoiled the views a little. We grabbed some lunch at a local cafe and did some washing at the hostel waiting for the rain to clear. When it finally stopped we went for a wander around town. Yangshuo seems like a nice place, with only one really touristy street, and great views across the Li River from the top end of town.
In the evening we had an unexpected bonus, two Chinese girls in the hostel were cooking dinner and invited us to join them. The food was amazing, the local 'beer fish' and some other homemade dishes - and they were offended when I offered to pay for some of the food and drinks!
Friday 1st February
Another big bike ride today. Bright and sunny day, and I have made it into shorts and t-shirt for the first time
The trip started up off along the road to see the famous 'Moon Hill', a rock formation with a large moon shaped hole in it. I took a couple of photos, but it wasn't as impressive as the guide books had made out. We then headed along a track up the side of the Yulong River towards 'Dragon Bridge', which was also meant to be a picturesque spot.
Fantastic scenery along the river valley throughout the ride, although we were harassed constantly to take a Bamboo raft along the river rather than cycle. I was tempted when the flat paved track turned into a rocky and bumpy path, and I started getting grumpy as I was tired and hungry by this point. Eventually made it to Dragon Bridge though and a rest, lunch and cold beer sorted me out! Thankfully, after our long ride, the area around Dragon Bridge was beautiful and worth the cycle up there.
We took a shorter route back along the opposite side of the river. Although again the track kept disintegrating into a bumpy, narrow mud path between villages, so it wasn't as easy as I had hoped and I was pretty exhausted by the time we made it back to the hostel.
After dinner at a local restaurant we finished the day watching 'Vertical Limit' at the hostel, sat on a comfy sofa with a beer...almost felt like home!
Saturday 2nd February
Today we took part in a Chinese cooking lesson...it was fantastic! We started off meeting our leader Kathy, a local restaurant chef, at the local market to go and buy the food for the three dishes our group had decided to make. It was really great to be shown round by someone who could tell us what all of the unusual vegetables and spices were, although I wasn't so keen when we were in the meat section and you could hear dogs yelping as they were killed - needless to say we were not cooking anything involving dog meat!
After picking up the ingredients we went back to the cooking school, above a restaurant in town, and set to work making three dishes, local beer fish (literally fish cooked in beer), sweet and sour pork and aubergine with garlic and chilli. It took a while to slice and prep all of the ingredients, but not long to cook in the huge woks. It was a lot of fun trying our hand at proper Chinese dishes from scratch, and we all felt proud eating the delicious food we had made ourselves. The aubergine was my fave whilst Dunc was a big fan of the sweet and sour pork. We all got recipe cards before we left so everyone back home can expect some good Chinese food from us when we get back, providing we can find the same ingredients back home of course.
Spent the rest of the afternoon just chilling out in Yangshuo in the sunshine before taking the night bus to out of China to Hong Kong.
We have both had a brilliant time in China, although feels like we have only scratched the surface of this huge country, one month was definitely not enough!