Archive for September 2011
After being cooped up on the boat for four hours with other tourists, we were ready to get off when we approached Yangshuo. From our boat, we saw other tourists getting off their boat and walking into the city. People were crowding the wharf and vendors could be seen here and there.
As I was walking toward the gangway, I turned back and gave the river one last look before setting my feet back on earth.
We followed the tourists in front of us to get to the city, and I saw this man with two black birds perching on each end of a bamboo pole. From time to time, the birds would flap their wings for balance, and it did not seem like they had any intention to leave that bamboo pole. They did not mind sitting there at all where people were gawking on them. I didn’t see any rope or chain holding them in place either. After searching wiki really quick, I found that these birds were cormorants. And the interesting fact I found from wiki was that Chinese and Japanese people trained these birds to catch fish for them. Isn’t that interesting? I guess if you can train pigeons to carry messages for you, you can train other birds as well.
As we were leaving the wharf, we realized that the weather had turned hot, hot and hotter. It was partly because we were not getting any breeze like when we were on the boat. We walked up the steps and found there were vendor stalls everywhere. The stalls were on either side of the street, and they offered all kinds of junk for tourists to buy. I guess you have to have a tourist trap somewhere. Where would be a perfect place to set a tourist trap other than at the end of your river cruise? After seeing hills and river for four hours, I am sure the majority of tourists would appreciate these stalls where they could buy souvenirs to take home.
We on the other hand, don’t really like shopping much. Yes, we are boring tourists. Well, for one thing, I already got a bunch of useless knick-knacks at home. I don’t need to buy more. So we just passed through these stalls and as we started to approach the major roadway, we saw people selling fruits. The fruits looked so good and fresh so I had to take a picture of it. The picture doesn’t do justice here. And the lychees, they were almost as big as ping pong balls, not like the teeny tiny ones at the grocery store in US. And yes, I got my fill of lychees back at the hotel. They had lychees on their breakfast buffet. 🙂
By that time, Crystal was starting to realize that we are not the usual tourists. We are those tourists who don’t like shopping. So she asked us if we wanted to see the village and the old houses in Yangshuo. In order to go to the village, we could ride a golf cart or a taxi. We ended up with a golf cart and it turned out to be a perfect solution. The windowless golf cart enabled us to see the city without any of the glass/window barrier of a car. And the golf cart is not the same golf cart back in US. This one had extra seats in them, so three of us could sit in separate rows of seat.
On our way to the village, I took just a couple of snap shots. From what I could see, Yangshuo looks similar to Guilin or any other city in China or Asia for that matter. The buildings along the street were either restaurants, businesses or shops with the upper floor serving as the residence of the people who owned the businesses.
Within about 10 minutes of leaving the city, we got to the village. We stopped and got off the golf cart, and we approached this house on the other side of the street. The gate we entered was the one in the right side of the building. We saw those plump chickens walking around in the front yard. I usually don’t like chickens that much, but this breed is really pleasant to look at. They’re very pretty and plump!! Ask my mom and she would agree with me. 🙂
Once we stepped through the gate, we walked into an area which I would call an “open area” where they stored several gadgets and other old looking things. For this post purposes, and so that you can understand me, I drew a sketch of the house. I could be wrong in drawing the size of each room, but you will get the gist of it.
One of the gadgets was this cotton/silk weaver. One of the grandmothers showed me how it worked by turning the crank in right hand and pulling a piece of cotton/silk. The result was a thin string was strung out of that piece of cotton and the thread was spun.
I called them Grandma and Grandpa since they were elderly, and definitely grandparent’s age. Then Grandpa showed me how to make tofu. To the left of the cotton weaver, sitting between the open area and court yard, there was this round stone grain grinder. Unfortunately I don’t have my own picture of this grinder, but a quick search online will show you how it looks like or something similar to it. Grandpa scooped up some soy beans and put them into a small opening in the middle of the stone, as well as adding some water into it. Then, he held the stick attached to the stone, and pushed the stick away from him and then pulled it back toward him. These motions caused the grinder to turn and squeezed the soybean into whitish liquid. So then he made me try it too. It looked like it was hard, but it was easy and not hard to push and pull.
To the left of the open area was the courtyard. There were bird cages being hung out there. Then on the walls, they hung dried vegetables and grains. Potted plants were there too. There was a water pump, pumping very clear, fresh, cold water. One of the grandmas offered us to drink some, but we politely declined.
We walked through the dark storage room and walked toward the back of the building. In the back, there was a smaller building that turned out to be a privy room and another storage room.
Then we entered the ancestor hall, where they set a table for the incense and the offering for their ancestors. We were not allowed to take a picture of the table with the picture of their ancestor, so we took a picture with the grandpa and grandmas instead. And the Argentinean tourists we saw on the boat were here as well. It turned out that we were not the only ones that loves to see old houses.
Then we stepped out of the ancestor hall and we stepped into the courtyard. There were a couple of round stones with handles that grandpa used for exercise. These reminds me of the kettle bells. He performed for us to show how strong he was. 🙂
Then we went into their kitchen, which was very simple compared to the nowadays, modern kitchen. They still used a hearth to do their cooking, although I saw an electric rice cooker and one electric burner.
So we finally said our goodbyes and thanked them for their hospitality. Although they did not seem to be living excessively, they were very generous and offered us water lily seeds and peanuts to snack on.
We went back to the golf cart and drove toward the village and saw more beautiful scenery.
Then we came across the Li River, and we saw a whole lot of the local populace was enjoying the river as well. Some of them even had water guns or some sort, made out of bamboo poles. The bamboo pole was dipped into the river, and somehow it filled with water, and then the person who hold it would pointed the bamboo pole toward the air, and something was done to make the water shoot out of the bamboo.
Finally we reached the village, which most of the young people had left and had headed of for the city life. We saw most of the older generation and very few children in this village. It was a sad and vicious cycle. The young ones saw that the city life is better and they do not want to toil the soil for the rest of their lives. So the grandparents stayed at their old ancestor houses and watched their grandchildren, until such time that these grandchildren will leave as well, and no one else would be left to stay in these old houses. We were grateful to see these old houses and some of the older generation in the village. I’m not sure if there will be people who live in these houses ten, twenty years down the road.
So, that my friends, our visit to the village in Yangshuo. Until my next post! Zai Jian!