Off the beaten path: Yangshuo

Wednesday 14 April 2010
My husband whom his friends have coined the term banana, white on the inside and yellow on the outside, suggested he wanted to find his Chinese roots. I was thrilled because he just gave me an excuse to drag him on yet another "amazing" adventure (aka otherwise known as backpacking in search of more off the beaten paths).

I plunged myself into research about China. I went to the library to find a language exchange notice board. Sure enough there it was - a little scribbled note "I will teach you Mandarin in exchange for English lessons". Thus began my journey to learn Mandarin. I also made a life-long friend. Six months of intensive lessons (poor Julia, she never learned much from me!), we set off on our grand China adventure. I called another close friend whose Chinese boyfriend was based in Guangzhou. She arranged for him to meet us at the train station.

Zhonggu took us to an amazing dim sum restaurant. The dumplings were shaped like goldfish swimming amongst seaweeds. Tea was served the proper way in a very elaborate fashion. The only catch was Zhonggu spoke no English whatsoever. My darling husband was quick to remind me that HE learned Chinese as a child and it would all come back to him the minute he stepped foot in China. ask what was in the dumplings, my wonderful husband started mooing like a cow followed by streams of clucking. Poor Zhonggu looked mystified by his actions. Next, Steve promptly took out his pen and started drawing cows and chickens on the napkin followed by jabs to the dumplings. By then, all the waitresses at the restaurant had gathered around our table and were in hysterics. I wanted to crawl under the table and dig my way back to New Zealand.

To make matters worse, Steve wanted me to translate "How do you feel about Chairman Mao?". Zhonggu worked for the military. Right after lunch, Zhonggu explained that we would head back to his place to drop off our luggage and then we'd head straight to a shopping mall. Steve nodded so I assumed he understood. While I was busy checking my itinerary in the taxi, Steve dashed outside and was soon caught up in a game of tug of war with Zhonggu's best friend, C who'd come down from their apartment to help us with our luggage. A few minutes later I heard shrieking "Help me! These corrupted Police are trying to steal our bags!". Poor C, he was a soldier in uniform, on his lunch break. The poor guy was mortified. He spoke no English and was told to get down quickly to grab our luggage as we were in a hurry. I had to explain to Steve that no, he's OUR FRIEND. I met C 4 years later and he still looked traumatized when I recalled that incident.

We caught a train to Yangshuo from Guangzhou. Yangshuo is a town within a short driving distance from Guilin. It's also considered a backpacker's haven and less commercialized than the latter. Surrounded by Karst mountains with the Li River running through it, it's a stunning albeit rather touristy town.

Yangshuo barber2
Shaving on the street

Yangshuo barber
Shaving in the shop. Check out his wooden slippers!

Yangshuo school
Classroom. Note the basic amenities and materials. The red scarf is rewarded to students who performed or behaved well. The student at the far right hand corner had to stand throughout the duration of the lesson.

Yangshuo drying beans
Drying long beans on the bridge

Yangshuo cormorant
Fisherman with his cormorants

Li River
On the boat going down the Li River


  1. Great to see these photos again . So hilarious , Steve and the luggage incident !!! A very worthwhile trip off the beaten track ...who knows one day revisited by L ( if she inherits the fearless adventurous streak in her mommy)??!!! Hahaha .

  2. *shudder* I'm going to take her on LOTS of adventures now so that she'll never want to get on the plane again for the rest of her life :P



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