In the morning our alarm went off at 8 for our Chinese cooking class, in which someone came to collect us from the hostel and took us to the market to select our fresh food.
This ‘fresh food’ however didn’t work out too well for me, as walking through the meat section there was dogs skinned and hung upside down by their back legs, with several alive dogs crammed in a metal cage behind. To try to get away from this I scooted around the corner only to find cage after cage of big fluffy white rabbits and ducks. Even though we had been warned of this, nothing can prepare you for the shock, and it actually brought me to tears and I had to get away. Not to mention the smell was revolting, but I’ve accepted that this is their culture whether I like it or not.
After we had bought the ingredients, we headed to a restaurant which was a 5-minute walk away and was brought into a room with multiple cooking stations and giant woks. Dish by dish we began to prepare dicing up our vegetables and adding multiple oils and sauces, aswell as creating a dumpling mix and learning how to fold them up before they were taken away to be steamed. A couple of hours later of cooking, we sat down to eat our hard work. We had a chicken dish with cucumber and salad cubes, a catfish dish, and our dumplings, which we enjoyed sat around the table with the other people in the class to enjoy lunch together. I’ve got to admit it, it was a so tasty and I surprised myself. Beer and now fish – what is China doing to me?
We began to walk back with the two people from our tour/hostel, however, got sidetracked in a shop and ended up being just Dave and me – big mistake.
We were confident we knew the way back….we certainly didn’t. After an hour of walking back and forth in the heat, swearing, sweating, asking for directions off people with limited English for a hostel we didn’t even know the address for – we eventually realised we had been walking past it all along. Embarrassing.
When we finally got back, it was time to go bamboo rafting on the Li river.
So after meeting the rest of our group, we walked to a bike shop where we all chose our push bike and then set off for a 40-minute bike ride to the lake. The first 10 minutes of this was hell, as I mentioned earlier – there appeared to be no traffic laws – so I found myself wedged between multiple whizzing bikes and cars as well as scooters pulling out in front and near to death. We eventually got to the scenic route, which took us through rice paddy fields and stunning mountains. And oh did that make the bike ride worth it.
We arrived and lined up to be put onto a bamboo raft, 2 per raft, and a man stood behind steering us down the river. The scenery we got to witness was breathtaking and being rowed about whilst we lounged in wooden chairs in the middle, safe to say we was very relaxed.
This went on for a couple of hours (was ready to get off by then) and we met with the group to collect our bikes to cycle back. Or at least this was the plan…Daves bike had a puncture, and the next repair shop was a good few miles away.
We were called a tuk-tuk (basically an electric cart) that ever so slowly took us to the bike shop, or should I say an alley we didn’t recognise…
At this point, we were quite concerned. It was now just the two of us and one old Chinese woman who didn’t speak a word of English, and kept insisting that she had brought us to the right place. After someone came to collect the bikes off the back, we walked around for a few minutes until luckily we recognised the area was near the first hostel we were taken to (definitely not the bike shop) But it wasn’t our problem anymore, the main thing was we weren’t abandoned in the middle of China.
We walked into the hostel that the other group were staying at and found the other tour guide, who – after explaining our situation – offered to take us back to our own hostel. We thanked her and got ready to start walking, this was until she pulled out a scooter, and told us to jump on the back. Not quite believing our eyes we hopped on the back of this poor tiny woman and her bike and whizzed through the streets to our hostel.
This was somewhat surreal, on the back of a woman’s scooter all 3 cooped on through the middle of China, definitely a story to tell. When we eventually made it back, we got showered and meet the group to go grab some tea. Another suggestion by the tour guide, ‘Chinese and western type cuisine’ she said. There was no western, just a very large menu of things we didn’t understand and pictures of frog legs and fish heads.
Begrudgingly, we all finally found something and quickly ate up to go next door to the supermarket to go get some alcohol for back at the hostel. Back to the rooftop bar we went, however this time with more booze and company, and stayed chatting and drinking in the candlelight under the mountains for a good few hours before we decided it was bedtime.