Dave's Sketch Journal

Drawing is taking a line for a walk. - Paul Klee

Pagoda Hike

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After breakfast we took a small hike up to one of the peaks in Yangshuo. The rain made one of the higher hikes too dangerous to take, but the short walk up to the pagoda was easy. From that perch we got a panoramic view of Yangshuo. There are about 350,000 people living here and it's growing due to all the touring foreigners. Hey, that's us.

We met a business man from an outside province, a very friendly guy. He wanted to practice his English, so on the way up we helped him learn how to say "No." At first he was saying: "Lo."

"It's not 'Lo' it's Nnnnno."


"No, say 'Nnnnoooo'."

We got him to touch his nose to feel the vibration and we drew him a picture of the nasal passage to explain how the air needs to flow through the back of the throat and up the nose. The sound doesn't come from the back of the teeth like an "L" but from the back of the throat.

By the time we reached the top he was saying "No" very well.

He found an osmanthus (guihua) tea flower and showed it to us. The fragrance is like a spring day.

"Do you know where it came from?"

"No." He said correctly.

So we told him.

We parted after exchanging phone numbers. He was very happy to spend his first day in Yangshuo with us foreigners, learning how to say "No" in English but he wanted to learn more.

We had some pizza and beer at Malcolm's restaurant. The pizza wasn't as good as a New York pizza, but it was respectable for the middle of China.

Yangshuo is the home of a Chinese calligrapher and bicyclist. The noteworthy thing about this man is that he has lost his right arm and left leg in a car accident back in the 80s. At first despondent, he felt useless. There were no facilities in China for the physically challenged. Life was very hard for him. Before the accident he loved to cycle, so after getting a prothesis he decided to cycle throughout China. After some practice he learned to write beautifully in Chinese calligraphic script using just the stump of his right arm. Soon he was famous, not for his handicap but for his beautiful writing and his long cycling journeys throughout China. He now lives in Yangshuo with his family. We saw him painting fans while we were in the silk shop just across the street.

The silk shop has a wooden tub of silkworms in their cocoons. The cocoons soak in water until the silk shop lady removes them from their cozy homes. Next, she stretches the silk pad over a two foot bamboo arch to dry. The worms are left in the tub and are later eaten. I watched her work while Tim bought a beautiful red and blue checked tie with matching cufflinks.

Earlier in the day he found a very interesting purple sand teapot. After firing, the purple clay becomes almost indestructible. They come in all shapes and designs. Tim found a mushroom pot that looks like something out of Alice and Wonderland. I also saw a t-shirt drawing of a galloping zebra that was going so fast it lost it's stripes.

We leave Yangshuo tomorrow and head for Pingan. Yangshuo is magical for it's karst peaks pushing up through the flat land, but I'm looking forward to a more peaceful place.

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. - Martin Buber


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