lardbucket: boats and mountains

3/18/2017

Boats and Mountains

Filed under: Travel — Andy @ 5:01 pm

As with every day on this trip, today effectively started with breakfast. We got up a bit early, and had more from the same buffet as the day before. I tended towards the bacon, French bread, watermelon, and cereal.


Full, we took about a half hour ride to a wharf where we boarded what was apparently a tourism boat along the local Lijiang River. The main difference from a normal boat was that it had periodic announcements of the sights we were next to, as well as somewhat exotics snacks and lunch. For example, the couple at our table ordered a set of snacks, which came with small fried crabs (eaten with the shell), stuffed snails, fish, and something I don’t recall. The woman didn’t appear too thrilled with the snails, but did end up eating many of them when her boyfriend was willing to dig them out of the shells.


There were some impressive views, including one that’s depicted on the 20 yuan banknote, so there was a fair amount of photography taking place. Because it was a tourism boat, from and to towns that drive a fair amount of their income from tourism, there were quite a few English-speaking passengers, and the announcements were made in both Mandarin and English. 


The hills are rather impressive, and I enjoyed the interplay with the fog. (My mom, on the other hand, would be happy to never see fog again, particularly after yesterday.) For lunch, the boat served the equivalent of what I’m used to calling a “TV dinner”: a plastic container with a variety of foods that was probably heated in a microwave (or in the case of mass preparation, maybe an actual oven). It was okay, although our guide assumed it would be bad and brought us tuna fish salad sandwiches as well. (I opted to not have that, although I felt bad about turning down the hospitality.) Our guide also recommended avoiding chicken and duck given the bird flu in the area, so we mostly have done that. (The CDC indicated it would be fine as long as the meat was fully cooked, but I’m not sure what the details are. I know the FDA’s idea of “fully cooked” can differ from other peoples’.) The lunch consisted of rice, fish (boneless), steamed corn/peas/carrot, chicken, and a spicy condiment.


Once we landed, we were immediately beset by people offering a variety of goods, although largely bags of tiny oranges(?). Once we made it up the steps, we went down a long(! over half a kilometer) road with vendors along one side. Largely, each vendor specialized in two or three types of things, such as silk (or silk-style) squares, wooden frog noisemakers, sandalwood/bone combs, etc. While I’m not super surprised that the vendors didn’t produce their own wares, it was interesting to see many of the same identical items repeated in stall after stall. I’m sure the prices varied as well (for two different vendors and two relatively similar items, we were initially quoted 60 and 15 yuan, although bargaining was very much on the table).


When we finally made it to Yangshuo, we ended up walking down West Street, which is also heavily populated by tourist and other shops.


We grabbed a few souvenirs along the way, having been told that this is probably one of the better locations to do so: as reasonable a quality as anywhere, and lower prices.

We stopped off at our hotel, after confirming that we would do dinner and then watch a show along the river that several people had mentioned to us. I took some of the time to head back to West Street and attempt to find a Geocache. Unfortunately, this was my second failure to find a cache this trip, though I think I was in the right spot for this one as well. 


For dinner, our guide took us to a local restaurant that apparently specialized in “beer fish”, made by pan frying fish, then frying some garlic, ginger, soy sauce, salt, and sugar, then mixing all of it together with half a large bottle of beer and simmering it for a bit. The restaurant also allows you to pick out your fish from a tank, where they weigh it and after you approve, prepare it and serve it to you a short while later. We had that (okay, though the fish was not deboned, and the sauce wasn’t my thing), and beans, gingko fruits, lotus, and carrot, along with white rice, a small cup of soybean milk (not my favorite, but rather sweet: apparently sugar is added), and some beer.


Finally, we headed to the river show that seemed popular. Indeed it was, apparently doing two nightly showings that seemed pretty full to me. They use an extraordinarily large “stage” with a bunch of nature, claiming a total size for the stage of about 12.5 square kilometres, and over 600 actors. I’m inclined to believe it. (Apparently about 400 of the actors have a different day job, generator farming.) They even light up some of the mountains as a backdrop at times.


The person responsible for putting the whole show together was tapped to do part of the the Beijing 2008 Olympics opening ceremony, so you may have some general idea of how this played out. I got a few photos, but largely my phone camera wasn’t good enough to do the whole thing justice. As a good estimate, if you see a light that isn’t gigantic, it was probably a person – or several people – holding or wearing lights on a pole boat or large barge. After the show, we took a short ride back to the hotel, dithered for a bit, and went to sleep. 

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