We left our lovely Mountain Resort, for a one night stay at Longji rice terraces. Longshi rice terraces is where most of the rice is grown in China. The Longji rice terraces are the oldest terraces in China. Just to clarify, rice terraces look like a big set of staircases made out of rice plants. Of course, you can’t actually step on them, but from a far it looks like you could.
Lot’s of the hotels at the Longshi area look like a tsunami just crashed through them, but luckily ours didn’t. It was clean and nicely decorated, at least on the outside. We set out right away to go on a hike through the terraces. We hiked up a twisted trail to the top of the terraces. That is when the “paparazzi” started. Chinese people lined up with their cell phones, waiting to take a picture. My mom had promised us that they would want to take pictures of my brothers, because of their blond hair and blue eyes, so I was pleasantly surprised when people took pictures with me too. I befriended a nice Chinese woman, who, if I understood correctly, is from the south. She is staying in the same area of Longshi that I am, and her daughter goes to college in California. We chatted for a while about how beautiful the view is, until she had to go. My family and I hiked up to two different points on the mountain, over our two days there. I really enjoyed our stay Longshi, and I hope to go back again sometime.
Liv the Explorer
After a week in Hong Kong, we flew to Yangshuo, a picturesque village on the bank of the Lee river. We stayed at a wonderful little mountain retreat right next to a small branch of the river, about 10 kilometers from the village. The view from anywhere in Yangshuo is absolutely breathtaking, strange mountains jut out of the ground like witch hats, and on sunny days the river is a beautiful green color. A major tourist attraction in Yangshuo is to sail down the river on a small bamboo-raft made. We did this the day after we arrived in Yangshuo. After a short haggling amongst the raft operators as to who's raft we would be sailing on, we set off on the 1 hour leisurely sail down the river. It was chilly, and sprinkling. (Little did we know, but this was the on-set of a minor typhoon). My dad, Milo and I were on a raft together and we joked around, took pictures and stopped for a few breaks along the way. One of the most memorable breaks was about 15 minutes from the end of the trip. We parted way with the other boats behind and in front of us, and glided through a small stream into the neighboring woods. I shivered with fear, I may be 11, (almost 12 !) but that didn't stop me from being just a little bit scared. Our "skipper" anchored the raft, smiled at us (with three missing teeth) and ventured off into the forest. We sat in silence waiting for what seemed like five minutes. I admit, I was shaking in my shoes. What if he gets eaten by a monster?! Or, or, or... I need to stop watching horror movies, I noted to myself. Finally, our skipper returned and we set out. It turns out he only needed a bio-break. I laughed to myself as we continued our journey. Sometimes I do let my imagination get the best of me ! We arrived at a bridge where our raft trip ended, and toured the mini clothes market there for a bit. We saw two monkeys performing tricks, I was conflicted. On one hand the monkeys were adorable, but on the other hand I realized they probably weren't being treated very well. We returned to our hotel via tuck tuck. Which is basically a motorcycle, with a load engine that makes a tuck-tuck- tuck sound, and a passenger cart connected to it.
Another memorable experience from Yangshuo was our cooking lesson. We signed up to learn how to cook 5 traditional chines dishes, and get a tour of a local wet market, (fresh produce market). We met our guide, Johnny near the market as well as another family in our group. Who just happened to be Israeli. I took one final breath of fresh air and we entered the smelly labyrinth of the wet market. The floor was slick, wet and muddy. And piles of meat, vegetables, eggs and grains surrounded us from all sides. Johnny sped through explanations of all the familiar vegetables , as well as some strange, unknown vegetables. Including but not limited to, what looked like the biggest cucumber in the world, it was as wide as both my legs put together and as tall as my waist. It turned out being something called a winter melon. I am also now fully educated in the different types of tofu. There is silken tofu, fried tofu, tofu sheets, regular tofu, soft tofu, sprouted tofu, firm tofu and EXTRA firm tofu. After the tofu and veggies we moved on to the seafood. A strong fishy aroma surrounded us as we walked through this area. I saw buckets, and buckets, and buckets of live fish of all sorts. I also saw bags of live bull frogs, about the size of my head when they are stretched out. I was eager to get out of this stinky corner of the market, and I thought any other part might be better. But I spoke to soon, we moved on from the fish and went to the meat. Now, have you ever gone shopping for meat? Imagine what you do. You enter a supermarket, let's say, Safeway, you grab a cart and you amble your way through the store until you reach the meat section. What do you see? Small pieces of steak, and chicken arranged neatly and shrink wrapped. Shopping for meat at a wet market is completely different... Precut hunks of meat lie on wooden tables, with bunches of flies sitting on them. Most of the time it is pretty easy to tell which animal the meat came on, because the carcass is lying right next to it. And the seller of the meat is wearing a bloody apron and holding a butchers knife. I felt pretty queasy from seeing all this meat, but then I saw the dogs. Skinned dogs, hanging from the ceiling. I wasn't sure if I could keep my breakfast down... Then we moved on to the live animals. Cages of chickens, ducks, geese, bunnies and even dogs, filled the area. People were picking up the animals and tying them by their feet, to bring them home for dinner. I couldn't watch anymore of that, so I wandered back to the vegetable section and waited for the group to finish. Shopping at a wet market is not for the light hearted.
The kitchen was an outdoor kitchen about half an hour away from Yanshuo. We put on some aprons and stood by our cooking area. We each had a cutting board, a butchers knife, (which we used to cut vegetables.) A little stove, a wok, some plates, a steamer, vegetables, sauce, spices and some pieces of meat. Johnny introduced some Chinese ladies who would helps us cook, and began explaining the meal we were about to prepare.
-Steamed Vegetables Stuffed with Tofu or Pork
-Stir Fried Spicy Eggplant
-Stir Fried Chinese Broccoli with Garlic
-Yangshuo Specialty, Beer Fish
and last but not least
-Gong Bao Chicken, or Kung Pao
Johnny began to show us how to use the massive knife. He taught us how to hold it and how to flick your wrist in the right direction. Then he demonstrated by cutting up some green onions. About 10 seconds in to he demonstration, Johnny shouted, "OW!" And stopped cutting. The tip of his finger was bleeding. He sucked at his finger, and finally said, "It happens." Before returning to the lesson. Johnny quickly explained each step of the meals as we struggled to follow. We chopped and fried, and steamed and filled. By the time we finished I was drenched in sweat, and I was heaving. It is surprisingly energy consuming to stir fry. We all sat down at the table the good smell of our cooking wafting in the air. We all dug in, chugging our drinks and devouring our food. After we ate our fill, we talked with the other family about our travels, and theirs. Later, after the other family left, we talked to Johnny our "chef". It turns out he isn't actually a cook. He had to cook as a child for his younger brother because his parents worked late. Johnny took this job to improve his English, because he wants to work in the International Business. He then confided in us that he doesn't like tourists. I always laugh whenever I think about this, because he stated it to us so plainly and bluntly. I really enjoyed this cooking lesson, and traveling In Yangshuo,
Liv the Explorer
Today in school, I researched a few fun facts about Hong Kong. I used a website called Wikipedia for Kids, which is a safe search engine for kids. I also observed some of the facts myself while traveling through Hong Kong. I picked my 6 favorite facts.
1. Hong Kong was a British Colony from 1842 to 1997. In 1997 Hong Kong became part of China.
2. Hong Kong is made up of three main areas. Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New territories which are made up of 235 outlying islands.
3. People in Hong Kong mainly speak Cantonese, and many learn English as an additional language. Most people in Hong Kong have English first names like Mary and John.
4. The population in Hong Kong reached 7 million in 2009. Hong kong is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It has the density of 6,300 people per square kilometer. By comparison the population density of The Netherlands is 400 people per square kilometer and for The United States it is only 32 people per square kilometer.
5. Hong Kong also has one of the worlds lowest birth rates, only about one child per woman. This is far below the rate needed to replace each person, which is about two children.
6. Hong Kong is a subtropical area. It is cold and wet through January-March, warm sunny and dry through October-December. The rainy season is from May to September, and there are threats of typhoons in the summer and early autumn.