Today’s post is more of an account of strange, random and interesting events more than anything else. Perhaps it was a full moon or something found its way into the Li River water because our day on Friday could only be described as “odd”. Really, the strangeness started during the night, when the rain began. Now, we’ve all witnessed rain before, and perhaps some have even had the unfortunate opportunity to have a leaky roof because of torrential downpours. Well, to say our hostel had a leaky roof would be an understatement! It’s built into the side of a limestone rock face, so the porous quality of the rock just lets the rain right through. The poorly-caulked plastic “skylights” simply redirect the raindrops into nice channels, so it literally was raining in the lobby and the main staircase. So much so that a number of guests dared fate and opened their umbrellas inside on the way up to their rooms.
Our particular room (listed as a “mountain room” because one was a rock face) leaked from both the mountain side AND the crappy skylight. How fun!
The rain unfortunately covered our view of what we had hoped would’ve been a gorgeous sunrise over the karst mountain peaks and Li River valley. Without a window in our “mountain room”, however, we couldn’t tell that we’d witness a boring sunrise until we were dressed and outside, standing in the rain, at 5:50am. We headed straight back to bed!
Our second time venturing out into the streets of Yangshuo was more eventful. We found a place for breakfast and sat down. We were happy to find a Chinese Checkers set (hmmm… I wonder if it’s just called “checkers” here). Our eyes quickly landed on the fresh juices section. Ligeia was more adventurous and ordered the cucumber juice. Mindy stuck with the reliable mango. We think they simply put the fruit/vegetable in a blender and pureed until smooth. No water, no sugar, nothing added! It was great!
Our interesting day continued with a stop at the local market. Apparently this is where the locals go to do their fresh food shopping, and it certainly seemed true as we didn’t see any other white faces there. The market was basically divided into two halls: produce and livestock. The produce section was quite standard (except some of the veggies were completely new to us: lotus root; asparagus lettuce; taro).
The livestock side was, well, um, in your face. Everything from fish, eels, ducks, chickens, geese, rabbits and, new for us, dogs. Most animals were alive, and making their respective noises. We were saddened to think that their quacks, honks and barks would be muted as soon as a local Yangshuoian purchased them. It made us proud to be vegetarian!
Amazingly enough, our trip to the market didn’t hamper our appetite (actually nothing could – we were hungry all day and eating pretty much anything in sight!), and we decided to try another new juice: corn. We were surprised to learn that this drink is served warm, and basically tastes like, well mashed up corn-on-the-cob. Certainly not jaw-dropping, but how many of you can say that you’ve tried it?
On our way back to the hostel after our morning adventure, we were appalled to see throngs of Chinese tourists packed in the street, standing and waving their tour group flags, between us and the hostel entrance. On our trip so far, we have learned that we need to use a bit of elbow power to squeeze through tight crowds, lest we be body-checked and swept away with the current. One particular woman didn’t take kindly to Mindy’s gentle arm nudge, made a quick about-face and yelled something in Chinese. She jabbed Mindy in the arm and yelled some more. The people around Mindy seemed as shocked as she was, but eventually the woman stormed off in a huff. Seriously!? Is there any reasoning or explanation to that?
To fully appreciate this next occurrence, we need to backtrack a bit to our stay in Xining near the beginning of our trip. We were lucky enough to share a dorm room with a very nice Chinese woman, who was traveling through China on her own. The vast majority of Chinese adopt an “English” name, and hers was Jane. With Ligeia’s name being quite difficult for others to remember, Jane gave her a “Chinese” name: Lala. We just figured the link was the letter “L”. On Friday, however, we learned from a group of ex-pats that the name “Lala” has a double-meaning here. The first is a simple nickname. The second – a term for a lesbian. Thanks, Jane – it’s perfect!
At least our odd and interesting day ended on a high note. Stay tuned for more tales from the Yangshuo area.
Ligeia and Mindy :):)