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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Guilin Noodles And (So Much, Much) More

If there is one dish to try - only one - in Guilin, then it must be the province's specialty: Guilin noodles.  In my all-too-brief weekend there, I must've had it at least five different times in five different ways.  The locals have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacking in between meals. In soup and stir-fried permutations.  Spicy and non spicy.  In fancy restaurants and on the streets. Served with vegetables, seafood, pork, beef, and even horse meat. 

It's similar to the rice noodles that's served in Penang laksa but the Guilin version is a tad more al dente and, possibly due to the sheer volume produced daily for Guilin-ites (it's totally their go-to comfort food,) they don't taste at all like their pre-packaged and freeze-dried poor cousins.  After my first bowl, I could definitely see what the fuss is all about.

Here are some of the Guilin noodle dishes that I had, and other dishes I'd sampled or just plain gawked during my recent trip to Guilin and Yangshuo:

Stir-fry Guilin noodles with minced pork; garnished liberally with chili

Guilin noodles with pork, bean sprouts and chili

Guilin noodles with pickled vegetables, peanuts and snails in soup broth

Savoury snacks served on the ferry enroute from Guilin to Yangshuo

No deep-fried whole shrimps for me: I pecked at these sunflower seeds as my snack of choice during the ferry ride

Savoury pancake street side vendor in Yangshuo

Deep fry it, and they will eat

Fresh from the river and straight to the griller

I was fascinated by this Mix n' Match pickles stall....marinated chicken feet, tofu, chili and black fungus, anyone?

I didn't even have to colour-filter this bowl of crawfish

Sadly, I didn't try the other local specialty - Beer Fish - or dine at Minnie Mao's cafe.  Cool names, though

Stir-fry tofu in a whole lot of oil (I didn't want to know what kind was used - probably it's the most arterial-clogging one)

This stir-fry long beans with bittergourd was super duper tasty......and oily (hence, its goodness.)

Never mind three squares a day in Yangshuo: street snacking is where it's at

Taking full advantage of the ripe (and ginormous) mangoes in Yangshuo with this special dessert confection

With its adventure/adrenaline offerings in Yangshuo (abseiling, caving, cycling, etc,) geared for the athletic, outdoorsy types,  I wasn't too surprised to find a number of al fresco German beer pubs dotted around town.

Downtown Yangshuo - a cornucopia of restaurants, street food vendors, pubs, KTV lounges and souvenir shops

A bountiful harvest - those mangoes are excellent

The ferries that go both up- and downstream on Li River between Guilin and Yangshou (and beyond)


Monday, August 5, 2013

Meet My New Favourite Town In China

I didn't really know what to expect when I boarded the boat early one morning to embark on a four-hour cruise down the famous Li River.  I mean, I knew I was going to see some jaw-dropping scenery, and by God, did I ever, but I wasn't prepared to fall madly in love with Yangshuo, a colourful backpacker's dream enclave nestled amongst the awe-inspiring limestone peaks, about a little over 70 kilometers from Guilin.  Yes, the town is touristy as hell but what sets it apart from other ethnic villages dotting the vast country are the amazing karst peaks, rivers, caves, rice paddies and the sheer number of corresponding activities (hiking, rock climbing, rafting, bicycling, spelunking, hot air ballooning, to name a few) for intrepid explorers.  And then there's Zhang Yimou's mightily ambitious water and light show - Impressions Liu Sanjie -  performed at the world's largest natural theatre.  The actual show was unfortunately a bit on the thin side but it is really that gorgeous backdrop of the mountain peaks with the river as the stage, and not so much the cast of 600 singers and dancers, that is truly the main attraction.

I'm going to have a separate post later on the food of Yangshuo, but here are some of my favourite technicolour memories of that day:

Tourists boarding the boats for a four-hour leisurely southbound cruise down the Li River.

View from a bridge in Yangshou


Five minutes before showtime - Impressions Liu Sanjie lights and water extravaganza by Zhang Yimou
Best natural theatre and backdrop I've ever seen

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