Down the River to Yangshou

It’s Monday afternoon, and we are at the Green Lotus Hotel in Yangshuo, Guilin. We took a cruise down the Li River this morning. I’ve attached a few photos, but it’s hard to capture the beauty on a digital image. It was a three-hour cruise, and Kyle and I stood on the deck most of the time taking it all in. Villagers and fishermen were dotted across the shore as we cruised by. My photos are taken from a distance, but they do give some perspective of the countryside that we saw along the way.

We arrived in Yangshuo around noon and walked through the markets, although it was hot and sticky (this seems to be a recurring theme), and then visited a local farmer’s house. Alison and the girls were able to start the process of making tofu (see photo of Alison). I’m not sure what this machine is called, but you place soy beans and water into one part of it and then crank it to produce the foamy white tofu “milk.” We toured the farmer’s house and small field behind. The flat screen television inside the house gave me pause, but then the family charges tourists to visit the home, which is entrepreneurial but it did make me feel a little voyeuristic. Of course, it didn’t help that I was snapping dozens of photos. I never did see the husband, and our tour guide informed us that he had never seen him and didn’t know if he was still living or had died. These are the kinds of questions that are not asked, so I didn’t. As Americans, I think we are used to getting very personal very quickly, but in China certain topics are considered too private to discuss with people you just met. I did see a grave marker at the top of the field, so it could be that she is a widow. She was so gracious, and the house was clean and well-organized, so she probably lives alone. Just kidding, men. On the way back, we saw women working in a rice paddy and we stopped to take more photos. I’m amazed how the women work in the heat and never look miserable. We’re walking around doing the tourist thing and sweating through our clothes. Very humbling.

After the farmer’s house, we then checked into this wonderful hotel with soft beds. We’ve been sleeping on traditional Chinese hard mattresses, but in this hotel, we can sink into the bed. Small luxuries. Our dinner was in the hotel restaurant, where they served us western Chinese food, which consisted of sweet and sour chicken, lo mein, beef with broccoli, etc. Unfortunately, the Chinese don’t do western Chinese food well. I was hoping for some pumpkin stem, local rice noodles, congee…not so much the pig’s feet, but we’ve gotten spoiled to the fresh and local fare.

Tomorrow morning we will attend Chinese cooking classes, then pack up to fly back to Beijing. That will end our “touring” part of this trip. We will then fly to Seoul on Wednesday, but no tour guides and no buses. Not that I’m complaining, but it will be a little slower-paced and give us a chance to catch our breath before heading home.

So, goodnight from Yangshou Town, Guangxi Province.

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