Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tibet and China 5 - Guilin and Yangshuo

Guilin and Yangshuo

Elephant trunk hill, the landmark of Guilin

By this point of the trip we were bouncing from amazing scenic location to amazing scenic location. Guilin has to be The Highlight of our entire holiday for me.

The scenery along the Li River and what we were immersed in bike riding around Yangshuo was nothing short of breathtaking. Everywhere we looked was right out of a Chinese painting.

Lunch after our cooking class

In Yangshuo, one of our activities was a cooking class. We ventured to a local market and joined 2 other tourists in a lesson on how to cook some typical local dishes. Most unique was the beer braised fish but most delicious for us was probably the spicy chicken or eggplant.

Braised rice noodles with BBQ pork and sides

I can't recall much in the way of iconic food in Guilin. I know our guide there talked about rice noodles a lot. So much so that we succumbed and ordered braised rice noodles for dinner one night. These noodles are actually cooked in stock and as such are very flavoursome. They're presented with some sides and accompaniments to mix and eat as one.

Rolling rice terraces

We also traveled a couple of hours out to Long Ji (dragon's backbone) to view the rice paddies.

Close-up of young rice grains

I personally am not a big rice eater but rice is such a huge part of Chinese culture and cuisine that it was nice to see the 'rice babies' as they were still on stalks.

Bamboo rice

Here, we tasted bamboo rice, which was glutinous rice cooked inside a bamboo tube. I couldn't detect too much of a bamboo flavour but it was interesting all the same. I would have liked to try the bamboo chicken (chicken cooked inside bamboo tube) but most restaurants required this to be pre-ordered as it takes a while to cook.

Giant osmanthus tree

I didn't realise this but "Guilin" is so named after "gui hua", is the osmanthus flower. We don't see that many osmanthus plants in Brisbane, which is a shame because the flowers smell incredibly good. I would be walking around the streets of Guilin and suddenly get a waft of sweet and soft osmanthus... Beautiful.

Close-up of osmanthus blossoms

Osmanthus can be used to brew tea, make liquor, perfume and desserts. We didn't try anything beyond osmanthus wine (of course we didn't say no to more local booze) but I thought osmanthus deserved special mention as this city's namesake flower.

View from Li River cruise

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