Day 5: Yangshuo

April 15, 2010

We woke up to a thunderstorm and the sound of heavy rain. By the time we were ready to go, the rain had stopped and we decided to rent bicycles and head north to an old village named Fuli. About an hour away by bike, the village is known for its handicrafts and we wanted to check out their weekly market. We stopped for breakfast at the hotel restaurant, enjoyed eggs, french toast, and fruit, and planned our bike route.

Front of our hotel by day, the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat


Pointing to our hotel on the hand-drawn map

The hotel provided us two nice Trek mountain bikes, a lock, and a map, and we set out toward Fuli. The scenery was much clearer this morning, and we found ourselves stopping often to take pictures. The weather was chilly; we both had on our hats and mittens, but the rain was holding off. We rode along the edges of the road, sharing a “bike lane” with others walking, biking, and occasionally driving their scooters.

Biking among the karsts


Very unique landscape


You don't see this in Chicago much

And then the rain began. Soon it was pouring. We parked under a tree and contemplated our next move.

Wondering if the rain will ever let up...

We decided to keep going, and while we didn’t quite make it to Fuli, we did make it to downtown Yangshuo. Noticing a bunch of shops along West Street, we parked the bikes and went shopping. This area of Yangshuo is very popular with backpackers, with many hostels and restaurants advertising “WESTERN FOOD”. We poked our heads into a few shops before biking back to the hotel.

West Street in downtown Yangshuo

We returned to the hotel, rested for a bit and headed back out to our next activity: a cooking class at the Yangshuo Cooking School. I read great things about this online and we were really looking forward to it. We met up with a few others from the hotel and took a bus downtown where we met Leo, our instructor. The class started with a tour through one of the biggest food markets in Yangshuo. After being warned there were a few things in the meat market some might not prefer to see (i.e. dog), we wandered through the endless tables of vegetables, fruit, meat, tofu, and fish. It was fascinating; I wanted to grab a bag, fill it with the gorgeous produce, and smuggle it home in my suitcase.

Waiting for customers


Hello? You're reached the open-air butcher counter


Egg mosaic

We departed the market and the taxi took us to a local farmhouse away from the bustle of downtown. A peaceful little place with a basketball court out front and a freshly-tended to garden on the side. Our cooking stations were inside a large shed-like structure that could be open-air or closed depending on the weather. Today, it was brisk, so the side doors stayed closed.

Gardening outside our classroom


Playing hoops outside our cooking class

After a brief tea break to warm us up, we got ready to cook. Our menu included five dishes: steamed chicken with mushrooms, eggplant with oyster sauce, pork stirfry, egg-wrapped dumplings, and green vegetables with garlic.

With a new friend, Sarah, ready to cook!

Each of us had our own wok, cleaver, and station setup, and the instructor demonstrated everything before we did it ourselves. It was taught incredibly well, with even a novice cook able to easily follow along and have everything turn out great. The egg-wrapped dumplings were a highlight — such an cool cooking method and something I’ll be making again back home.

Delicious egg-wrapped dumplings


Now Matt can cook a great Chinese meal!

After we finished cooking, we sat down to eat all the dishes for dinner, along with rice and beer. The meal was outstanding, and when we were done we were given a copy of all the recipes from the class, including some we hadn’t made that were taught on different days. This was an awesome experience and we are so happy we were able to do it.

The results of our hard work and a delicious dinner!

We returned to the hotel and settled into its large front room to review the day’s pictures and make plans for Friday. Sitting around a huge fireplace, we chatted with people from the Netherlands, Canada, and Colorado, trading stories of where we’d been, what we’d seen, and how we got there. It was a lovely end to a lovely day. With a clear forecast for tomorrow, we’ve made plans for a day trip to the Longsheng Longji Rice Terraces, a site so beautiful it made the cover of my Fodor’s guidebook. Can’t wait!

3 Responses to “Day 5: Yangshuo”

  1. Despite the weather, it looks and sounds like you two are having a great time…..Nicole you should write travelogues and Matthew, the pictures are great!(Nicole, what fun to take a cooking class and Matthew you also don’t look bad in an apron!) This Yangshuo area appears to be absolutely gorgeous. Keep sending more of the beautiful pictures and descriptions – am hoping you’ll see the sunshine soon. xo Mom Ohhhhhhh, by the way, some news from Duluth….Matthew, we just found out that you will be an uncle again come September!!

  2. When you get into your new condo, you and whip up all kinds of Chinese meals for your guests. I can’t wait!!!!!!!!

  3. Yay! I made the blog! 😉 I’ve been without internet for a few days, so I’m just able to check it out now. It’s really nicely done. Yangshuo cooking school was so cool. Today I start exploring Beijing, probably hiking the Great Wall tomorrow. Hope you guys are still having fun! Cheers!

Leave a Reply