Friday, October 3: After I return from my raft trip, I head straight into town to eat some lunch, since I never had breakfast this morning. I find a Chinese restaurant and sit outside to have fried dumplings and sautéed bok choy.
Across from my restaurant is a pretty little coffee shop that serves fruit juices and coffee and desserts. I go here one afternoon for a mango juice. I love the flowery borders and pathway to the creekside patio.
Walking down the street from the restaurant, I see an interesting menu board. I’m so tempted to try the “spicy intestine” and the “fragrance of dog!”
The street is a cute one and though the streets in Yangshuo are meant to be pedestrian-only, all kinds of vehicles somehow barrel their way through.
I continue my wanders around the town, eventually making my way to Green Lotus Peak. I have to pay 40 yuan (~$6.50) to go into the park. I’m told that I can’t do any climbing to the top of the peak today because the pathways are too slippery. This is disappointing because of course I always like to climb to the highest vantage points.
From the pagoda at Green Lotus Peak, I can see across the Li River to the karst landscape. I can see many people are camping across the river. Maybe all the hotels in town are full. Or else they just want to be one with nature.
Jianshan Tower was formerly Jianshan Temple, built around AD 713, the beginning of the Tang Dynasty. Three monks in the temple struck a bell every morning and evening and the sound spread far across the land. This is the story of “Monks and Bell of Jianshan Temple.” In 1916, the temple was destroyed and “no monk was there anymore.”
Jianzhen (688-763) was a famous Buddhist in the Tang Dynasty. He was invited to visit Japan by Japanese scholars. He tried 5 times to take a boat to Japan, but failed. On the 5th attempt, he met a storm and his boat was driven to Xijiang, the entrance to the East Sea. On the way back, he arrived at Guilin. After that he took a boat from Guilin to Yangshuo and came to Jianshan Temple. He exchanged knowledge about Buddhism with monks there, and sang praises for Yangshuo’s beautiful land. In 753, he finally made it to Japan on his 6th attempt. He built an altar in the East big temple in Nainang and publicized Buddhism, thus contributing to Sino-Japanese Cultural Exchange.
On a cliff overlooking the north side of Green Lotus Peak is a special calligraphy word. This word was written in 1834, during the Qing dynasty, by Yangshuo mayor Mr. Wang Yuanren, whose nickname is Jingshan. This is a poem in ONE WORD, according to a sign. The poem says “How beautiful the landscape here! We should study and work hard when we are young.” The stone carver failed to read Mr. Wang’s nickname, Jingshan, properly, so he carved it upside down. This stele has been preserved since 1981.
When I arrive at the north end of Green Lotus Peak, the gate is locked, but someone comes quickly to open the gate. Now I’m in an unfamiliar area of town. I keep making my way north and I see the boat docks and a lot of commercial activity with people piling on boats for a ride. I make my way through this bustling area and try to find my way back to the part of town I recognize.
I finally make my way down a busy street, following the signs for West Street. Little by little, I start to recognize some things and, very thirsty by this time, I dip into Mango for a mango juice. It’s very cutely decorated, and the cardboard cup covers are tacked up to make an interesting 3-D wallpaper.
I make my way through the throngs of people down West Street and eventually back to my hotel on Bin Jiang Road. There I have a beer on the porch and watch the people walking by.
I relax for a bit in my hotel and at 7:00, I go out to meet Audrey at Demo Bar . She and her friends Sarah and Peter are already drinking some wine, so I join them for a glass. I tell German Peter about feeling sick from the food, and he, who has worked in restaurants all over China, tells me many people have stomach troubles here because of the oil. He tells me most restaurants recycle their oil and in the recycling process it’s chemically treated. He says several restaurants in Yangshuo use only olive oil, and he knows to eat at those restaurants. I wondered why I get sick so often, even if I’m eating just vegetables. He says it’s not the meat; the meat is all well cooked, it’s the oil. I guess there is no way to avoid it then, because everything here is cooked in oil.
After a bit, Audrey, Sarah and I head to Rock-n-Grill. It’s a lovely setting beside a creek and away from the crowds on West Street. Tropical plants surround us and the music and the vibe are laid back. We drink more wine and share a Thai meal which is delicious, including pork wrapped in lettuce leaves. Both Audrey and Sarah have traveled extensively, so it’s fun to share stories. I feel like we’re kindred spirits, even though I’m 30 years older than Audrey and 23 years older than Sarah. We have a grand time talking and talking. Eventually, Audrey and I meander back to the hotel on the back streets; she knows the town intimately. It turns out her apartment is right around the corner from my hotel. It’s peaceful and pleasant when we get away from the crowds on West Street.
Tomorrow morning, Audrey’s going to take me on a bike ride in the countryside outside of Yangshuo. We don’t set a time, saying that we’ll see how we feel in the morning. It’s quite a late night, and I’m exhausted. I’m happy to be back in my hotel for a good night’s sleep. 🙂