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Yangshuo  

2009-09-21 11:19:59|  分类: 阅读 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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I won't forget our first lunch at MC Blues Bar, sitting on the sidewalk at a table in the warm southern sun. The outdoor stereo speaker was blowing cool with Miles Davis as hip-looking international travelers strolled from cafe to cafe up and down Xi Jie, the main drag. I overheard two long-legged blonde girls trying to decide which English-language movie they would see that night -- certainly the heaviest decision they would be called upon to make all day, since the choice was so large.

"I'll have a tuna sandwich," I told the waitress. "And some french fried onion rings." Gail chose the banana pancakes and we both had large glasses of fresh squeezed orange juice. For desert we had their homemade chocolate cake that was served hot and smothered in chocolate syrup. Everything was so cheap we would need to work awfully hard to make a dent in our budget.

Were we in Shangri-La? Had we died and gone to some Chinese heaven for foreigners? No, we were in the lovely Guangxi town of Yangshuo, which along with Dali in Yunnan is one of the two legendary destinations for backpackers in China. To a remarkable degree, the popularity of both Yangshuo and Dali has been created by the Lonely Planet, a guidebook which exerts enormous influence and directs the footsteps of most serious travelers in China. (I saw a T-shirt in a Yangshuo store: "In Lonely Planet We Trust.")

Pretty places are exploited quickly in today's world, and my guess is that Yangshuo only has another year or two before the prices start rising and its very popularity transforms it into yet one more paradise lost. But at the moment it remains a great China get-away for the ex-pat who is longing for a little cafe life in a Western mode, as well as an opportunity to see the spectacular karst region along the Li River while avoiding the rip-offs of Guilin.Yangshuo - 职业翻译 Carl Chi - 职业翻译Carl Chi 的博客

 

The cafes themselves are quite amazingly hip, given the remote setting. Many of them have clever names: Planet Yangshuo, Minnie Mao's, The No Name Cafe, and my favorite, The Hard Seat Cafe. You can get duck a l'orange at the Paris for 9 yuan, or a pizza at the Mei You for 7 yuan. Hardly anything is more than 10 yuan anywhere. There are dozens of attractive little places, from the Rainbow Cafe to the Sunny Side Bakery, where you can find great American breakfasts, muesli, hamburgers, green salads, milk shakes, cappuccinos, and more. When you live in China as a foreigner, these things take on a kind of mythical character. Sure, you can find pizza and cappuccinos in Beijing, but you will pay serious money for them. In Yangshuo you can relax about the price.

Nearly all the cafes show CD-ROM movies in the evening, and here again I was astonished by the variety, which included "Dead Man Walking" and "Trainspotting," films you would be hard-put to find in the big cities. Conversation generally flows easily from table to table, and this can be an interesting part of the evening, for the travelers are from all over the world and have stories to tell.

During the day, you can take boat rides up the Li River or rent bicycles and explore the countryside on narrow dirt roads that wind from village to village. Gail and I made one memorable overnight trip with Shelley, the co-owner of MC Blues Bar, to the Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces near Longsheng. Shelley works as a guide and we were glad for her services. I don't think we would have found our way without her help to the Yao minority village that is on top of the mountain and can only be reached on foot, a steep hour's climb on a confusing path.

The Yao dress in traditional clothing and live in wooden houses on top of the extraordinary rice terraces that they have carved in elaborate patterns all the way up and down the face of their mountain -- an astonishing sculpture that has taken centuries to create. Shelley knows many of the villagers and she was able to get us an invitation for dinner in one of the local peasant houses. An old woman cooked us dinner in a wok set over an open fire in a room whose walls were blackened with years of smoke. She gave us cups of homemade rice wine scooped out of a large pottery jug. The wine was similar to sake, but still had unfiltered grains of soft rice in it. Except for a single dim light bulb suspended in the cavernous darkness of the room, it felt as if we had traveled backwards in time a thousand years.

It was a perfect side trip. When we had enough of the primitive life, we made our way back to the languid pleasures of cafe life. Tequila and fresh squeezed orange juice, anyone? You bet! I'm not sure if Yangshuo really exists, or if I only dreamed it. But when you're an ex-pat in China, it is necessary from time to time to take a small escape.

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