Yangsuo

Yangsuo (Yang swure)
Yangsuo is often called a western enclave in China. This means you can get all sorts of Western/American food cooked by Chinese who have never had the real thing at the same prices as back home. With that said, it was sure nice to have some pizza, a breakfast that didn’t include rice, and a really good latte.
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The first two days we spent biking around Yangsuo. The whole area is filled with large rocky hills that rise from flat grounds to high peaks and fall equally quickly. The first day we hired a guide for 140RMB ($20) for a wonderful country side bike tour. 6 hours later we had toured through three villages, rice paddies, Gin Ju orchards (Cumquat), and in between majestic hills. Like many people in Yangsuo our guide was a farmer and dabbled in tourism, leaving his parents to tend to his Orchards, rice paddies, 3 cows, 10 chickens, and 5 dogs.

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Biking in Yangsuo

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A water buffalo used to plow the feilds

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Another field we just wandered into

On our third day we took a bus way up river with the intent of taking a five hour hiking trail back down. What we didn’t count on was having to cross the river twice. We got to the trail head, or at least across the river from the trail head. The man that ran the boat across wanted way too much money to ferry us across. So we opted to cruise down the river on a bamboo raft with a Spanish couple we met when they had the same problem.

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The Li River. This picture is on the front of the local cigarette package

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The Spanish couple we split the raft with

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Local River Commerce

As an aside, dear reader, you must understand that there are two prices for everything in China: what the locals pay and what white people pay. After hard bargaining you can get close to what the Chinese pay for goods and services. We still haven’t been able to bridge that last gap. I give this anecdote so you know our frame of mind when we encountered this raft man. He knew he had us, it was off season and he’s the only ferry there. So he was just going to stone wall us until we paid him, or bought a more expensive service. Well, after telling him “I’ll just walk across the water like Jesus” we paired up with the Spanish couple and paid a reasonable price for the bamboo raft down river.

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Our raft looked a lot like this

We spent the next couple of days biking through the hills, meeting some local Chinese people, and spending enough time in my favorite coffee shop in all of greater Eurasia to finish reading “Tipping Point” cover to cover. We also did our fair share of hiking into peoples farms. One of the great things about being white and in China is you can go most places, even places you have no business being in, without anyone saying a thing. For example, one day we hiked up the side of a steep hill into a massive hidden farm on the plateau. From the trail and the small greenhouses, and the plastic covered trees this farm looked like it should be a secret cocoa or marijuana farm. However, after sampling the crop I can assure you it was another cumquat orchard.

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A Gin Ju Orchard

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Dragon Bridge. Around 2,000 years old.

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Mmmmm, Chinese Veggie Burger

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A cow in another farm we just strolled through

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