Chilling out in Yangshuo
Trip Start Jun 15, 2007
74Trip End Jun 27, 2008
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The plan was to spend the remaining few days chilling out in the Giggling Tree. However, I think we both under estimated how knackered we were from China and how ready we were to leave. Rather than chilling out we seemed to be more on edge and spent the time trying to plot our escape from China. It's not that we hated China just that two months was quite a lot and especially when you consider that it was our first country on the trip (other than Turkey but that was spent either on the beach or in the toilet with food poisoning).
However we did venture out on bikes again (we must be mad) and soon got lost. It was nice to go and get lost in the surrounding villages, however I did suffer from yet another puncture and had to get a local to fix my tyre.
On the 7th September I decided to do a half day cookery course. Nic opted out and stayed at the hostel and watched some movies. The cookery course was great fun except for the visit to the market. The night before I had stayed up way too late drinking with a Dutch guy and had to be up and ready by 8am for the cooking school. I was tempted to not actually go and just pay the money but I decided to go ahead with it anyway. So I got picked up and taken to nearby Yangshuo town centre where I met an English girl who was doing the course. We then went into the market.
Before I go on, let me just say that whilst in China we got used to seeing animal life in some of its rawest form. We have seen chickens for sale with heads on, chicken feet for sale on skewers, ducks being slaughtered in village markets, toads and fish thrown on the floor to be prepared for dinner, pigs trotters etc etc. In the West we are a little sanitised to the whole food chain process and a chicken in Tesco doesn't actually look anything like a chicken you see strutting around a farm. We were also aware that Qanxi province (where Yangshuo is) is (in)famous for its dog based cuisine. However, I was not prepared for the sight I saw in the market. We were walking around taking in the sights, looking at the fruit and veg, looking at the caged rabbits and ducks, they even had live toads in a bag that you could you take away. Then at the back of the market I saw the dog meat stall. For starters there were three dogs hanging on hooks, dead, ready for sale. They were totally intact, heads, tails, legs everything, and were split right down the middle. Morbid fascination again made me stand and gawp and take photographs. Silly me. While I was stood there gawping a man came in dragging a large sack behind him. The owner of the stall opened up the sack, pulled out a live dog, nodded in approval and proceeded to whack it round the head with a cosh. The dog fell instantly limp; she then took a knife and slit it right down the middle. The whole time I was stood there open mouth, stuck the floor, watching. I was horrified. I couldn't believe what I had just seen. And then to make it worse I noticed the cage full of live dogs behind her all watching obviously waiting to receive the same fate.
This incident messed with my head for a while. My first thought was obviously with Deefa but then I started to reason the whole incident. There is no way I could ever agree with this and I will always believe it to be very wrong. However (and this is a very weak attempt to make it rest easy in my mind) it is only one type of dog that is used for consumption. You do not see Jack Russels or Collies hanging up there. And why do I find chickens, rabbits etc acceptable and not dogs. They are animals at the end of it all, and if I am repulsed by dogs then why not chickens and ducks? Poor attempts but I had to do something to reason with what I saw. For me dogs are pets and part of my family. I have grown up with dogs in my family and when you lose one it is like losing a member of the family. This is how I am conditioned and seeing one killed does not, and will not, rest easy.
After this incident we were back on the bus, with some new additional members for the cooking school. There were half a dozen or so of us at the school and we were to cook up 5 dishes (no dog thankfully); pork stuffed in pumpkin flowers (which are delicious), tofu balls and mushrooms; chicken with cashew nuts; beer fish (yep - fish cooked in beer); water spinach with garlic (delicious) and finally my favourite aubergine with garlic and ginger. YUM!!!
I learnt a lot of nifty little tips during the course and really enjoyed it. We got to sit down and eat for lunch what we had cooked - delicious.
The course was only half a day and in the afternoon we ventured out on the bikes again and most importantly made arrangements to leave the next day to Nanning where we would be obtaining visas for Vietnam