Friday, February 10, 2012
On the way I walked along Victoria Harbor and over the Avenue of Stars. The skyline across the harbor is absolutely amazing.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
(See first video at the bottom)
At the first stop we made, some farmers brought their water buffaloes over for us to feed.
I took this picture from the near the water buffalos (from almost the same place where the Windows XP wallpaper picture was taken).
Then we stopped on the river and one of the guys from the village put on a cormorant fishing show for us. It only took the birds a few seconds to bring up a fish. (See second video at the bottom)
We went a little bit further down the river after the cormorant show. At one point one of the men paddling the raft lost his balance and fell in (and it was probably about 35 degrees out). The other drivers gave him a pretty hard time.
If I went back (which I would like to when it’s warmer) I would probably stay in Yangshuo over Guilin. Guilin was fine, but it was a lot of traveling to get to any of the scenic places. Yangshuo is much smaller and has many scenic areas close by for biking or hiking.
We also looked at a traditional doorway in the village, our guide (looking like the goofball he was) explained that the red around the door and the mirror at the top were meant to keep evil spirits away (which I guess come around more during spring festival time). There is also a wooden plank that you have to step over when walking through the doorway which also blocks the spirits (they can’t step over stuff for some reason). Also, during spring festival, the Chinese people scare away the spirits with fireworks.
On our next excursion we took a "bamboo" (actually just pvc pipes) raft ride down the famous Li River to a smaller town called Yangshuo. It is pretty amazing stretch of river with mountains that rise out of the mist and tower over the river.
There is apparently a tradition with this mountain (below) that if you can see all 9 horses (shapes that look like horses, not actual horses) in the mountain than you will become the number one scholar in all of China. And as our tour guide told us repeatedly, Bill Clinton only managed find three. I really only saw one for sure and that was only after the tour guide pointed it out to us.
On the ride to Yangshuo, we also stopped to see the location that is on the back of the 20 RMB note used in China. The picture below shows me in the most cliché pose possible but everyone else was doing it so whatever.
They sat us down in a barren house around a fire and began making us food and selling us some "home-made" materials. They seemed nice so we didn't really agree on a price (being the trusting, apparently naive, people we are) for the food before she began making it for us. The one lady
said we could pay whatever, they were just glad to have us. When we finished and we needed to leave we gave them some money (more than what we thought it was worth, but we figured they were nice and hospitable). But then the old lady shook her head and said 5x what we just offered. It was about this time that I realized we been had. We finally awkwardly talked her down to 3x what we thought was fair and just decided to give up. Honestly we had a really fun time there and she only duped us out of a few dollars a piece, but that back-handed approach for some reason just really made me angry and kind of ruined the experience for me. The experience taught me 4 important rules. 1) Always make sure the price is understood before agreeing to anything. 2) Never trust anyone on a tourist path. 3) Never trust Chinese people 4)Never trust women.
And yes, I am still bitter about the situation and this post was difficult for me to write.
Monday, February 6, 2012
Its also amazing just walking around the city because through the rows and rows of apartments buildings the echo of the bangs keep going.
body under a tarp. One of those China experiences that make you think.
We got to the entrance of the rice terrace area and we were instantly surrounded by old women trying to sell us all sorts of products (even though we were at the less touristy part of the mountain). That's the one thing about China, any beautiful or interesting area is turned into a park which you have to buy a ticket for which then attracts people who want to sell to or swindle every visitor. Its always a victory for us if we find a place that is outside of the rush and off the beaten (like really beaten (a small village outside of Guilin has about 17 million tourists a year (if I heard correctly), it kind of causes stuff to lose its magic) path.
Anyhow, the rice terraces were really amazing. It wasn't the best time of the year to visit the terraces because the was a mist that was pretty low and we climbed through it in not too long and missed a lot of the views. Also, as we climbed higher there was more and more snow on the ground and ice covering the bamboo leaves. You can see the difference between the top and bottom between these two pictures.
I would definitely like to come back here during a nicer part of the year but it was still a great time.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
The picture above shows the development of the character for alcohol (酒）and different ways it has been written. The evolution of Chinese characters is pretty interesting. The following picture shows a giant vat of traditional Chinese medicinal alcohol. This particular one contains a snake, fetal lamb, along with some other animals and spices.
The final food I tried at the park is a traditional food called zongzi (粽子) (I think). It is glutinous rice mixed with chestnuts (or something like that) and spices, wrapped in bamboo leaves and steamed. I have tried it before, but this one was pretty bad (and a mess).
Saturday, February 4, 2012
It was really tasty and that was one of our favorites in Guilin. Traveling in China is neat because every area will have similar kinds of foods but they will also have local foods that will differ a little bit. For example, every city I have been in has its own type of breakfast and lunch street food. In Xi'an it was spicy shredded meat in a steamed bread sandwich, in Guilin it was pickled cabbage stuff and fried dough wrapped in an egg and batter mixture. Obviously there were other things, but you couldn't walk a minute or two without seeing a vendor selling these favorites. The first two days we were in Guilin, we took it pretty easy and rested a lot. The second day we took a little trip to see a famous landmark called Elephant Trunk Hill. ( you can see why from the picture)
We climbed around the top for a while and got a great view looking over the city. What was really neat about the city (and I tried to show with the picture) was how the city was just kind of
built around the mountains.
Friday, February 3, 2012
Thursday, February 2, 2012
(and so the volume of posts are not overwhelming, I am going to schedule them to be published daily (I think I can do that))