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Friday, April 11, 2014

Guilin and Yangshuo: Day 6

When on the Banana Pancake Trail, do as the Banana Pancake, blazers. Breakfast in Yángshuò 阳朔 at a place called Kelly’s Café, where the sound system that morning took us back to 1980, with “Public Image”, “Rapper’s Delight” and “Rapture” in rapid succession:

Back at the Yangshuo C.Source West Street Residence. The proprietors of this establishment had done a fine job melding the Ming-era building with 21st-century conveniences and comforts: 

The courtyard, with an appropriate nostalgic tinge: 

For the first time in our weeklong trip, the sun paid us a visit, which made it an ideal day to rent a couple of bicycles and explore the some of the surrounding countryside. Provided we could get out of the town’s insanely clogged streets first. Even in smaller burgs, Chinese drivers converge upon each other in a cacophonous din of blaring horns and refusals to give way or show the least bit of courtesy to other drivers, not to mention pedestrians…and, of course, cyclists. But we eventually maneuvered our way through the throng, and before long found our onto a much quieter back road: 

This old house once belonged to a general: 

My wife has her tires replenished with air, courtesy of a local who has tried to capitalize on the popularity of biking in this area among Chinese and non-Chinese visitors alike:

The sight of a water buffalo was a source of great excitement for my daughter. She wasn’t the only one, however. Pamela overheard a young Chinese woman tell her friend it was the first time for her to see a real live cow, a sign perhaps of how rapidly the society has urbanized in the past few decades: 

Some of the farmers living along the bicycle route have converted their homes into diners, serving meals to the visitors. We stopped for lunch at a rustic farmhouse in a village called Jiùxiàn 旧县, where my wife ordered yet another local favorite, beer duck 啤酒鸭:

The walls of the house appeared frozen in time, as with this poster depicted People’s Liberation Army generals depicted on horseback North Korean-style:

After lunch it was back on the bikes to continue riding. Today it was Pamela’s turn to go with Amber on a tandem, while I got to ride solo:

The scenery evoked that rural idyll, but many of the houses were still of the mud and brick variety. Income inequality is certainly not unique to China, but the gulf between the countryside and the major urban centers can still be shocking to see at times:

We were planning on riding out to the same Dragon Bridge 遇龙桥 that we had been bussed out to see on our first day in Yangshuo. However, the quiet road we’d been riding on for several kilometers came to a halt at a busy highway. Rather than do battle with the large trucks and tourist buses whizzing by, we decided to turn around and head back the same way we’d come:

The girls ride by a large tree which had refused to make way for the road:

Feeling thirsty, we stopped at an old farmhouse to have a couple of Cokes. The toilet in the back was very “rustic”:

Here in the countryside, images of Máo Zédōng 毛泽东 are still revered:

Another house belonging to a military family, with the last a general who fought against the Japanese during World War II:

Next door, inspirational words from Chairman Mao were holding up slightly better than the fading slogans from the Cultural Revolution 文化大革命:

A comparatively rare site in China, at least in comparison to Taiwan, is that of roadside temples. This one was built on the side on the hill, providing some views of the surrounding countryside. This spot was located along the Yùlóng River 遇龙河, and was another popular starting point for rides on bamboo rafts:

Back in town, Pamela went off to a hair salon to get her washed, so Amber and I took a stroll around Yangshuo Park 阳朔公园, where in another throwback to the past, heroic Socialist Realism statues were ignored by virtually everyone present:

Reunited with Mom, we walked down to the Lí River 漓江 for a look at the boats and the peaks before dinner:

Dinner was on the second floor of a café overlooking Xījīe 西街:

When in Yangshuo, do as everyone else, which hear means checking out the action on Yixie and buying gifts and souvenirs:

The evening ended at Le Vôtre 乐得法式餐厅, a French restaurant sharing the same building as the Yangshuo C.Source. They brew their own beer, a practice I’m always willing to encourage through my patronage:

Next up: Our last full day

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