During my long days at work prior to coming here, I would spend them daydreaming about Yangshuo. I know it’s dangerous to get one’s hopes up, but the place is on the back of Chinese bills. How could I not have high expectations? And somehow, this magical place was as promising as I dreamt.
Yangshuo is an old town nestled in one of China’s most remarkable landscapes. The Li and Yangzi rivers compliment the country’s signature spire shaped mountains which jut out of the earth creating something of a topographical wonder.
Our first day in Yangshuo was drizzly and the heavy clouds dampened the ghostly peaks, so we took a cooking class. It sounded like it had the potential to be horribly boring (especially for someone who avoids her kitchen), but it was quite the opposite.
Our little band of aspiring chefs were guided to the local market by our instructor. She introduced us to the odd assortments of roots and vegetables I can never make sense of at the grocery store. Then we passed through the meat market…… dun dun dun dunnnnnnn…..
I have always heard stories of the gross things that Chinese people eat, and while I have seen my fair share, this was by far the worst. BEWARE: GRAPHIC IMAGES! (that get progressively worse)
Dried rats for soup. I guess all hope won’t be lost if what the Mayans say about 2012 is true. We have plenty of live food storage in our kitchen.
I’m easing you in….
Don’t say I didn’t warn you. PS – they had cats too. Uh, I’m feeling sick. Onto my cooking class:
After we braved the market, we were driven out into the country where our class was held. Describing the details of my super fun cooking class would just make it super boring for you, so all you need to know is that it was great.
The end result. 好食物 (good food)
By day 2 the weather was glorious, so we decided to enjoy it on bikes exploring the countryside. We rode through little villages and saw people growing their crops and living their lives like it was the 1800’s. Women in their 80’s were tilling fields and hauling 50 lb bags of grain to the markets on their backs. We also saw a lot of old men sitting around and smoking. I guess that arrangement works for the Chinese, but Chris would be a dead man.
Crusin’ through the country side.
Drying grain in an empty house.
It’s not official without a flower wreath.
Getting shuttled across the river with our bikes.
We opted to bike to Moon Hill and hike to the top, which provided an amazing vantage point of the country.
We ended the day by riding our bikes back to Yangshuo in the beautiful gold sun right before it set.
Our third day we went on one of Yangshuo’s signature tourist attractions: a ride down the Li river. However, we took the wrong tour and our “bamboo” raft was made from PVC pipe, our “gondolier” was some guy who sat in the back and steered the motor, and our 2-hour float only lasted 1 hour, but we still made the most of it.
Our final day we rented these bad boys so we could enjoy the freedom of exploring at will. Considering my biker boots and our sweet stance, it seemed like we would be better suited on a big ol’ hog rather than a weeny moped.
We rode and rode until we ran out of road. Then we got on foot and walked through fields until the fields ended. It felt like we had walked to the end of the earth.
And then we rode back to reality. On our way home we passed a sweet family of peanut farmers. They so generously said they would have us for dinner but explained they didn’t have much food, so they gifted us peanuts and refused payment. It’s truly remarkable what we are all blessed with this Thanksgiving. Those with peanuts are blessed with generosity and humility, and those with mopeds are blessed with peanut farmers who inspire them to live more generously and humbly. Remember the peanuts!