A Travellerspoint blog

Michelin Star please!!!

sunny 28 °C
View Great Escape to the East! on Tam-Jo's travel map.


We spent the best part of the today immersed in Chinese culinary delights; Yangshuo Cooking School! It was fantastic! We started with a trip to the local food market. The fruit and vegetable section was fascinating; so many vegetables we had never even heard of before and some of them were huge!! The meat section of the market was less than pleasant but we thought we should go and see it whilst we were in China. I won't go into the details on here though as it was slightly upsetting in parts.

At the cookery school, which was out in the countryside about a ten minute drive out of Yangshuo, we learnt how to make the following dishes:
beer fish (famous local dish)
chicken with cashew nuts
steamed stuffed vegetables
eggplant with soy and oyster sauce
green vegetables with garlic

And of course we got to eat them all afterwards and they were tasty!! You can expect great things from us in the kitchen when we get back to the UK...we've got the recipes!

In the evening we went to the famous Yangshuo Light Show. The show is directed by the same person who directed the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and so as you can imagine, it was spectacular! The show uses the Li River as the stage with the karst scenery forming a stunning backdrop. Over 600 people perform in the show so it's a huge production. A great way to spend our last night in Yangshuo, our favourite place we've visited in China!

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 05:25 Archived in China Tagged yangshuo Comments (1)

Like punting, but in the tropics....

sunny 29 °C
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Today began with bamboo rafting down the river Li - just us, our "rafter" and the bikes we had rented for the day. Really when they say "bamboo rafting" they should make it clear that the "raft" is not, in fact, made of bamboo, and has a motor attached, which we think makes it more akin to a boat than a raft! But who are we to argue?! Yet again, the scenery was spectacular and on the way to our final destination we stopped in at a little village famous for the painting of traditional Chinese fans (cue more souvenir buying!). We were promised that there was a spectacular Qing Dynasty gate house at our tiny destination village of Luigong, and it was so spectacular that we promptly walked past it without even realising! Next thing we knew we were on our bikes and on the road heading back to Yangshuo! Oh well! It can't have been that impressive, right?!

The cycle back to our hostel was lovely, through some proper Chinese villages and countryside. However, we were warned that the bikes from the hostel were not great and after half an hour Tam's bike developed a curious tendancy to break by itself! Tam manfully struggled on regardless (after several attempts at bashing the wheel with a giant rock in the hopes of fixing the problem!)! Navigating the busy, and somewhat insane, streets of Yangshuo was interesting but we both survived in one piece and were back at our hostel by lunchtime!

Quick refuel stop before catching a car to a very small village nearby where we could get on a REAL bamboo raft (surprisingly like punting!)! Despite the copious numbers of Chinese tourists, we spent a very relaxing hour floating down the Yulong River (if you don't count the seven or eight mini waterfalls we had to go down in our raft!).

Then back to the hostel for some planning and dinner!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 01:14 Archived in China Tagged yangshuo Comments (3)

West Street, Pool, Fishing and Chicken/Duck/Cormorant(?)

sunny 27 °C
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We had a lie in this morning...necessary after firecrackers were going off next door at midnight! Then off to West Street in Yanghou to look around all the stores. We went for some tea tasting, to a bar for some local beer and got an ice cream :-) Very pleasant afternoon!

Back to the hostel for a few games of pool before going to see the cormorant fishing in the evening (we're getting pretty good at pool now)!

The cormorant fishing tonight was amazing! We were out on the river in the dark and the only light was coming from the fisherman's bamboo raft. Really beautiful. And the birds were fascinating to watch!

After the fishing trip, whilst waiting for the taxi back to the hostel, Jo decided that we needed to fulfil Adam's latest challenge to eat a chicken's foot. So off to the local buchery type store where we bought a foot. However, only after eating said foot for several minutes did we realised it was webbed...and therefore not a chicken's foot! Fail! Epic fail!

More hilarity before the taxi arrived...almost being witnesses to a stabbing by stool! A super loud argument was happening right on the street and so of course, loads of people were stood around watching (us included). From nowhere, one of the men produced a stool which he alternated between sitting on, throwing at man number two, and ripping the top off to turn it into a stabbing device. Luckily at this point someone else stepped in to confiscate the 'stool' and stop the argument!

Now we're sitting in the hostel lounge watching the Hangover. Great end to another awesome (hilarious) day in China!

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 07:34 Archived in China Tagged yangshuo Comments (3)

Famous views and our final stop in China

sunny 26 °C
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Today was another early start, as we decided no to bother packing all our stuff last night! Not very sensible!! We managed to book ourselves onto a boat cruise tour whose final destination was Yangshuo - our last stop in China. Our morning was mostly spent picking people up from other hostels and hotels before we (finally) got on our way! First stop XingPing (funny name!). From here we took very noisy motorised boats out onto the river Li to see the view that was put on the back of the 20 yuan note. Very pretty karst scenery and a lovely river! Yet again, what could have been a peaceful hour spent on the river was rife with the sound of motors and shouting! Still, we enjoyed it!

On to Yangshuo, where we managed to totally confuse our hostel by asking them to pick us up somewhere random in town. Thankfully we managed to find our way to the bus stop for a lift and spent a good 20 minutes having a half Chinese/half English conversation with some man in a cart who was determined to take us where we needed to go! We managed to wait for our real driver and got driven out into the middle of nowhere to our hostel!

We've spent our evening planning more of our trip beyond China, it's now 9pm and we're both falling asleep! Early night for us tonight!!!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 07:32 Archived in China Tagged and guilin yangshuo Comments (0)

Rice and a lot of hair!!!

sunny 27 °C
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Today we took a day trip up to Longji to see the rice terraces. On the way we stopped at a village called Huangluo Yao; also known as Long Hair Village. In this village the woman only ever cut their hair once, when they reach maturity. After that, they never cut their hair again!! The style the hair is worn in signifies whether the woman is single, married, and if she has children. The woman put on a show to demonstrate courting in the village and the marriage ceremony. If a girl likes a boy in the village, she will pinch his bum to tell him (seriously). If a boy likes a girl in the village, he will touch his foot onto hers. Good system!

Before heading to the rice terraces we stopped for a traditional lunch in the village. The bamboo was the tastiest dish...we totally understand why the pandas love it so much!

It was a long (and hair raising!) drive to get the rice terraces. Up and up and up long winding roads. At one point our little mini bus nearly got pushed off the edge by a coach hurling around a corner. Very close call!!

To get to the top of the terraces it was a half an hour walk in stifling heat. Of course, we had to get an ice cream when we got to there to cool off! The views of the rice terraces were amazing and stretched on for miles.

At the hostel this evening we went to our first dumpling party!! Such good fun! We must have made a couple of hundred dumplings between us all and despite some of them looking a bit odd, they were all delicious! Great skill to take home with us!

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 07:27 Archived in China Tagged guilin Comments (3)

20 hours on a train.....

sunny 27 °C
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Hard sleeper part two! This time we weren't the only Westerners on the train; some people just down the corridor from us were from Holland and Belgium and on an organised tour through China, so the amount of staring was split between us all! A welcome relief! Not much to say about a 20 hour train journey, except that I nearly fell off the top bunk whilst trying to get down in the dark - pretty funny!

Arrived in Guilin this afternoon, and as the Guru Lonely Planet says, this is a town built to cater for tourists visiting the surrounding area (i.e. there is nothing to do in this city!). We have booked oursevles onto a trip (with an English speaking guide - amazing!) tomorrow to see the rice terraces at Longji. The following day we head for Yangshuo and a sedate life on the river for a few days! BLISS!!!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 06:43 Archived in China Tagged and guilin kunming Comments (0)

Random day

sunny 26 °C


After drinking a bit too much last night we awoke with pretty sore heads. Jo decided to have a lie in so I headed off the the Dwarves Empire with a few other people from the hostel.

The Dwarves Empire was possibly one of the most bizarre things I have ever (and probably will ever) see. The site of this 'attraction' is about an hour out of Kunming on top of a huge hill. It is a community of people who, for various reasons, are shorter than most people. This community has it's own king and parliament (apparently). Twice a day the community puts on a show. We went to the morning show at 1150am. This mainly consisted of dancing, signing and some random acting. After the show, we were free to walk around the village and also admire the views from the top of the hill. Google "Dwarves Empire Kunming" if you want to read any more about this...I am still a bit lost for words.

We spent the afternoon lazing around on the outdoor sofas on the hostel roof terrace eating chips waiting until it was time to leave for our sleeper train to Guilin!

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 06:40 Archived in China Tagged kunming Comments (1)

Sitting in baths

sunny 26 °C
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After a rather hectic few weeks of travel Tam and I decided that we were in need of some rest and relaxation. A nice trip to the local hot springs were definitely in order!!! So off we trouped on our first Chinese bus, escorted by a young man from our hostel. The place we ended up was VERY swanky! We spent hours sat in various pools fed from the local hot springs. The place was actually very quiet and sedate (except for the blaring TV IN the sauna!). And the only thing to trouble us slightly was our lack of ability to speak Chinese and the general nakedness of all the women in the changing rooms (we did not feel the need to get involved in that aspect of the spa's activities!). All in all, a well deserved rest! And we even managed to navigate our own way back to the hostel on the buses! WIN!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 06:39 Archived in China Tagged kunming Comments (0)

Hard Sleeper

sunny 25 °C
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Our first experience of a hard sleeper train in China was last night. An experience it was! After shoving our way onto the train (our huge bags came in handy for this) we were greeted with the sight of one long corridor with triple bunk beds stacked down the whole length. A far cry from our lovely little soft sleeper cabin we had for the journey from Beijing to Xi'an. Surprisingly we both managed to get some sleep though. Then came the (ridiculously) early wake up all; 4am! The train didn't get in until well after 5! Not a great start to the day.

Next challenge; get a taxi to take us to our hostel. Pandamonium! We had to stand in the middle of the road to try and flag down one of the hundreds of taxis. A bit scary in the dark and when we were still half asleep! But we did it! Unfortunately for us, the taxi driver decided to let us out in what we thought was the middle of nowhere in the city. There were no signs to the hostel and the street was deserted apart from one other taxi driver and his two passengers. Our taxi driver told us to follow the three other people and having not many other options we do so warily. All was fine in the end; the hostel was down a little alley. And amazingly our room was ready straight away! Back into bed for us!

After a very long lie in we decided on a nice lazy day in the city. Each of us wanted a couple more items of clothing so we went on a shopping trip to H&M followed by a Starbucks! We were both slightly homesick so this helped. Then onto the bird and animal market. Hundreds of birds and all sorts of animals were being sold there (dogs, rabbits, squirrels, tarantulas, snakes, chipmunks etc...). Unfortunately the standards of animal welfare were not what we are used to in the UK. So we made a pretty quick getaway!

A nice lazy evening in the hostel rounded up our day!

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 06:36 Archived in China Tagged and dali kunming Comments (1)

Rock the boat...

Don't tip the boat over!!

sunny 26 °C


Today we planned to go on a cormorant fishing boat trip, which those of you who know me will understand I was very excited about! We had images of a still, quiet lake..... being in a little boat with a local fisherman who would show us how they traditionally fish using cormorants. In short, a beautiful relationship between man and bird in peaceful surroundings. We could not have been more wrong!

We turned up in a crowded little harbour and were, as usual, the only westerners around and therefore, a tourist attraction in our own right! Among a large crowd of Chinese tourists we were bustled onto one of five big rowing boats and rowed out into the lake where a man on a boat was surrounded by a dozen cormorants. The birds managed to catch three big fish - a pretty impressive sight! Unfortunately we watched this spectacle amid the noise of loud singing and Chinese tour guides (one on each boat and each one armed with a megaphone!)..... the opposite of peaceful! All the while people were clammering over each other to get a good picture, and nearly capsizing us!

After watching the cormorants we stopped for the obligatory food break (it was a twenty minute trip at best, at 3pm, and yet there was still a need to stop for food - how are these people so slim?!). We watched the tourists getting pictures taken with the birds - so tacky we decided and way above us true travellers. But ten seconds later, the old man rowing our boat asked us if we would like a photo at the front of the boat, each in a proper Chinese hat. Apparently we are not too far above the touristy photo ops! Cue another round of pap style pics from our fellow tour group members! But at least we got a good one out of it too this time!

Next stop - Kunming!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 06:32 Archived in China Tagged dali Comments (1)

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