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China - Yangshuo (20 yuan note karst peaks)

Written on: Wednesday February 18th, 2009

This is such a beautiful place where every day the karst mountains look different according to the weather. We got rid of our long johns etc in Chengdu, but we were still in need of them here, bar one day.

Luck had it that we chose that day for a great fun bicycle ride through the countryside. The paved road became a rocky path, which then became a bumpy footpath, which then became the strip of earth between paddy fields. We were lost. We got off our bikes and stood looking around for a bit to try to work things out and from out of nowhere behind the bush we were stood in front of was a smiley face with a conical sunhat. He didn't say a word, pointed right and disappeared again! So we set off on our way once more!

And here, as well as snouts, you get (as Jon loved) ... "pigers penis". They are on almost every barbecue street stall. One night we met Lee, a man from Nanning, who bought us one. He was convinced Jon must want one: "you always talk pigers penis, you must want eat pigers penis". Yes, we ate pigs penis. And it wasn't that bad actually, but anything barbecued with a bit of salt and chilli tastes good!

We stumbled across a market one of the days, and made an effort to return to it the following day when we had more time. A bright colourful barn of fruit and vegetables and toads, with some of the vendors fast asleep in their carts. Wandering through a gap in the wall the stench of blood hit us. A dingy room with a blood covering on the floor. Geese, chickens, rabbits, dogs with their throats slit. Next to live animals squeezed into crates and cages with limbs and necks poking through. The dog fur burning, fish head banging, live cats and kittens running around, intestines, rats strung up, headless dogs, and the noise of the live animals using up their last squeals was enough for us!

On Tuesday we got the 11:30 bus to Nanning, and were greeted by a smile, a free bottle of cold water, and a can of sweet congee each. BA service stopping there. As ever the six hour journey meant hanging on for dear life switching from the right to the wrong side of the road as we hurtled towards all traffic (lorries, buses, bikes, pedestrians) on the other side with a narrow miss swerve every time, and a viewing of a few recent accidents along the way.


(Xie Jie Hostel - NOT recommended, the owner is a con-artist!)
(Bamboo Hostel (Number 2) - recommended)