Yangshou has a small town area that has developed for tourism. It even has a street called “West” or “Foreigner” street named for the westerners that come here. There are many restaurants and places of accommodation catering to foreign tourists.
It does seem kind of strange to come all the way to China and then eat food from home, and then find out all the cafe staff and shop keepers can speak English. However, the western food would be a nice break for someone who had been traveling in China for a while.
Who Knew We Would Be Such An Attraction, Especially While Eating
We were warned that as foreigners we would spark curiosity while traveling in China. It has been a bit more than we care for at times, and can get quite annoying. We often become an attraction while we are eating our dinner at restaurants. We have had people stand right in front of us stare while we eat and even take a picture of us.
Sometimes the people think they are being sneaky. They stand across the street pretending to be taking a picture of the restaurant we are sitting at. Or they place their friend just a bit in front of us and off to the side and take the picture so we are in the background. It is so obvious! We will try to obscure our face somehow or turn our head. They try to wait and snap the picture as soon as we expose ourselves again or they get frustrated and try a different angle.
Another time we were walking down the street and a guy was trying to take a picture of me. I caught him before he did it. I pointed my zoom lens back at him and then he chuckled, but as we kept walking we caught him poking his lens around the corner to try and get me again. Some people are very persistent!
Restaurants And Types Of Food
There was one restaurant we ate at frequently. It is called Drifters. They had great food and friendly staff. They had apple crumble for dessert, it was delicious. We’ve been on the road in foreign countries for months so it was a welcome treat. Another place we went to had a pot of cold rose tea, just slightly sweetened with honey. It was very refreshing. We found it pretty easy to get vegetarian food here. We had lots of vegetable fried rice and one place made delicious sweet and sour tofu. Jack could not get enough of this stuff. The Meiyou Cafe is another popular place, the food is good, especially the banana pancakes. Meiyou means nothing or do not have, so the restaurant boasts they do not have bad food, bad service, etc.
One evening that we were out eating dinner, we had some excitement at the table next to us. The hotpot in the middle of the table suddenly burst up in flames. At first they just kept eating keeping a watchful eye on it. The staff didn’t seem to think too much of it either. Then it started to get out of control. There were now over half a dozen staff standing around looking at it trying to figure out what to do with it. The customer got up out of his chair to get away from it. They ended up getting it extinguished after a few minutes.
We have seen all kinds of interesting food items on menus here. It’s common to see items on menus such as beef penis or snake prepared in many different ways. Dried rat is one the the local specialties as well as fried squirrel.
We adopted a bad habit while we were here. We ended up going almost every day to Kentucky Fried Chicken, not for chicken. I doubt we would ever eat there even if we were meat eaters. It was for there strawberry sundaes. After being away for 6 months it was a welcomed reminder of something from home.
Experiencing The Activity Of Yangshou Town Center
We spent a whole day in Yangshou just wandering around the streets. It was another day of drizzling rain. We purchased some big rainproof ponchos with hoods for $5 each. It made walking around a lot more pleasant. We didn’t have to carry umbrellas everywhere we went. We checked out some of the shops. There were some typical Chinese items for sale. Small mud men, painted fans, fancy chopsticks, and painted scrolls.
We experienced a lot of rain while we were here. We were seeing news footage of people and homes being swept away not too far from where we were. Other areas of southern China were also having to evacuate and rescue people. We were starting to get a bit worried. Although the streets would get a bit flooded at times, it never got to that extreme during our stay.
We tried our first Chinese massages here. They were quite nice. You just have to be careful what you are getting into. Jack had been approached a few times on the streets being asked if he wanted a “special massage”! One massage place we went to had a large tank of crabs outside of the entry door. A small crab had escaped and had come in the door and was heading towards the front desk. The manager of the shop said, look he wants a massage too!
You will never run out of bizarre things to keep you entertained in China. Like babies and toddlers with strange pants. They are completely split open throughout the crotch and backside. You can’t really see the split too much if a toddler is walking around. The purpose is so they can be taught to just squat and go. It would become a familiar site to see this taking place on sidewalks, or where ever the child happens to be. We’re still not sure what happens with the small babies who are too young to squat. Their pants have splits too, and they have no diapers on.
While you are eating in some of the cafes or walking around the streets you will continually have street vendors coming up to you. One lady made us laugh all the time. She had a very excited sounding voice and would approach us almost everyday. She would say the same thing all the time. She had a basket of fruit and would come up to us and say “Hello banana!” All together as if it were one word. Then she would start in on the other fruits, but they would all have hello placed in front of them too. “Hello peachy, hello apple, hello lychee”, etc.
We got to know lots of the regular vendors and musicians in the street. We would see the same flute player everyday. He would nod and smile at us. The restaurants we went to recognized us when we came back and were always very welcoming. Nice to see you again they would say.
Sometimes a sweet little old lady would come up to us with a basket of stuff we had no interest in buying. Then she would crack the most precious smile and you were hooked instantly. How could you say no? We bought a little trinket from one lady. She was so happy she gave me a big hug. She smiled and waved goodbye. Then after a minute she came running back, she must have felt bad she left Jack out, he got a big hug too! She was so sweet, she couldn’t have even been 4 feet tall!
Everywhere you looked there was something entertaining to see, like barbershops set up on the sidewalk right along side a busy road.
The Night Market
A large area near the bus depot is transformed into a nightly food market everyday. Even if you do not plan to eat anything there, it is well worth going for the experience. Being vegetarian, it was a little hard to stomach some of the food. There was every kind of animal being cooked up that you could imagine. The picture of the rat is just a sample of what you can expect to see.
Getting Chinese Currency
We went to the Bank of China to see about getting some more Chinese currency. We had picked up some in Hong Kong before our arrival, but were running low. Yuan means dollars.(RMB) Renminbi is the official name. At the time It was very close to the Hong Kong dollar in value. About 100 RM equals 15 Canadian dollars. During our travels in China the ATM’s did not accept foreign bank/debit cards. It was no problem to get a cash advance on our credit card either from a bank teller or directly from the ATM machine. If we can’t use our bank card to get money in a particular place, we just use the credit card and then pay it back from our bank account when we get access to the internet.
There was a funny device at the front counters of the bank we went to. One was in front of each teller. It is a small box that has the tellers picture and bank ID on it. You can press one of three buttons on it. Satisfactory service, fair or unsatisfactory service. You do it right while you are standing in front of them. Maybe we should have stuff like this at home!