Following both the recommendations of Sean of HK and my guide Stina, I decided to sample Yangshuo’s most famous cuisine for dinner: beerfish.
The beerfish at Minnie Mao’s was both the most delicious and second most expensive meal I had in China. (The ‘expensive’ title is still held by a champagne-infused Shanghai extravaganza with a gaggle of expats my first week.)
The only problem with the meal was it marked the first time I tried removing dozens of tiny bones from a fish using only chopsticks. It was made worse by the fact that because I was alone and taking pictures of my food, the staff assumed I was some sort of reviewer and hovered over my table as I clumsily spit fish bone after fish bone onto the rubbish plate. The server had been kind enough to point out at the meal’s start that the purpose of the plate was not for my food. Otherwise I would have spent the entire night with a mouth full of inedible fish parts.
Having spent three days in bed, I was determined to spend my last night in Yangshuo out on the town—or what there is of it: basically one heavily-touristed pedestrian walkway known as “West Street”, located as one would expect, on the east side of town.
Every one of West Street’s clubs—and there were several—blasted music into the street louder than conventional speaker systems would allow. The clubs were relatively empty compared to the street, which was lined with curious tourists and aggressive pimps, the latter of which had to be shoved aside like Hare Krishnas in Airplane.
Thanks to Alison’s recommendation, I turned into a quiet alleyway that I never would have found otherwise and made my way to the Showbiz Inn. Sadly, the bar there was closed, but further down the empty alley I found a sedate pub called Monkey Jane’s.
There were only about eight people in the bar, but they turned out to be a group of English teachers in Yangshuo. They hailed from the U.S., Canada, Quebec, Australia, and Europe, and they gave me great advice on where to go and what to see in other provinces.
Another one of the their group walked up to us—it turned out to be Augustine, the Vancouverite Sean and I saw the Hong Kong light show with the week before. My first serendipitous encounter in China! In a country of 1.3 billion people this seemed to be a near-miracle, but since then I have learned that I am far more likely to run into people I know in China than in the U.S. Foreign tourists frequent the same cities, hostels, and bars touted in a handfull of sources like Lonely Planet and wikitravel. It only seemed coincidental to me since I had wandered aimlessly into this random, empty bar.
My cold subsided the next day and I caught the long-awaited bus back to Guilin. From Guilin I would finally venture to the mysterious locale that had inspired such unprecedented animosity and reverence from my fellow travelers: