China Brews

China isn’t really known for their beer and it is obvious why at the first sip. Now, that isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy my beer in China, because I absolutely did. I enjoyed it the same way I enjoy a refreshing Coors Light. Sometimes I just really want a Coors Light, sue me.

China isn’t really known for their beer and it is obvious why at the first sip. Now, that isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy my beer in China, because I absolutely did. I enjoyed it the same way I enjoy a refreshing Coors Light. Sometimes I just really want a Coors Light, sue me.

My favorite brew of China was Guilin Liquan’s 1998 LiQ beer. It was very smooth, refreshing, and a great price at only ¥10 ($1.55). I would also put Guilin Liquan as my favorite brewer in China. I tried two of their crafts. I couldn’t taste much of a difference between the two, but they were both better than the others I had.

On our last couple of days in China, we bunked with a Chinese brewer at the hostel. He was in the middle of a brewery tour in Chengdu. He gave us a list of places to try and talked to us about the growing micro-brew culture in China and how he sees it around the world. It was super interesting to talk to him and we are looking forward to our next trip to Chengdu to check out the breweries he suggested.

I only got a taste for the flavors around me. Please share your favorite China beers in the comments, and if you’re an Untappd user, add us as friends!

Top UnTappd Badges Earned This Month


Brew Update – China

New China Flavors: 9

 New China Breweries: 8

Flavor Life List: 51


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Beijing Yanjing Brewery – Beijing, China

  • Yanjing Beer North American Adjunct

China Resources Snow Breweries – Beijing, China

  • Snow Beer 8.0 P Lager

Harbin Brewing – Harbin, China

  • Harbin Beer Pale

Master Gao Craft – Nanjing, China

  • Baby IPA

Panda Brew – China

  • Outlaw Witbier

Shandong Hande Brewing Co. – China

  • Baishi Royale Lager

Tsingdao Brewery – Qingdao, China

  • Tsingtao Pale

Yanjing Pijiu (Guilin Liquan) – Guilin, China

  • 1998 LiQ American Light
  • 10P LiQ North American Adjunct

Adventures with Jen – Yangshuo

We’re just a few days away from moving to our next destination which means it’s that time again to tell the stories of my less-than-totally-epic adventures. Yangshuo was amazing in almost every way, but had its fair share of not so brag-worthy moments. Join me again for: Adventures With Jen! [cue theme music]

Downtown Art

West Street and the area surrounding it are fun and exciting at nearly all times of the day. With our daily walks, we were able to explore the area top to bottom, front to back. On top of all the fun shops, restaurants, and music/sounds loud enough to blow an eardrum, there is also a healthy amount of art. We had fun wandering around and taking pictures of the weird and wonderful.

Markets

There are several markets in town. There are two small ones right near our hostel, one large one downtown, and a huge one in the next town over. The small markets near our hostel are fun to walk by. They mostly sell fruits and vegetables, but there are a couple that offer duck or fish. The large market downtown takes up the first floor space of two large buildings. There are stalls for everything from nuts and herbs to fish and snake.

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On one of the sunny days, we rented an electric scooter again and rode about half an hour out of town to the neighboring town of Fuli. They host a large market every few days and had good reviews on all the travel sites. The drive took us through busy, loud traffic, but the market itself was pretty cool. I was particularly happy that we went at this time of year because the whole place was filled with red shops selling goodies for Chinese New Year.

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Hike – Xi Lang Shan

There are so many beautiful mountains throughout Yanghuo, most with pagodas perched on top. It isn’t always easy to find the way up, however. There was one mountain in particular with a nice pagoda on top that looked like it gave a view of the whole city. We walked around nearly the entire thing looking for the stairs. There were several sets of stairs that led up to little caves and hobo camping spots. After several attempts, we did find the right stairs and worked our way to the top.

It was free, not too high up, and did indeed have an excellent view. Although physically easy to climb, it was a mental challenge with stairs that were not well maintained and clinging to some sketchy cliff edges. We worked our way up and down very carefully and celebrated a successful climb when we safely reached the bottom.

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Yangshuo’s been a great home, but it’s time for us to move on. We’re heading up to Chengdu next, home of pandas and spicy food, where we’ll be house-sitting for a few weeks. Chengdu is quite a bit bigger than Yangshuo, and I’ve got a lot more little fun adventures planned!

Eating All of the Things – Yangshuo

Our adventure with food continues. We love to eat, and there is plenty of food to love here in China.

For breakfast, Josh collects two buns from our favorite steamer place down the road. The man that works at the shop is very enthusiastic to have some new foreign friends and has some of the best tasting buns we have ever had. Josh bags them up and brings them back to the hostel, where I meet him down in the common area with one cup of Americano coffee to split and our thermoses refilled with fresh hot water. Breakfast is small, but filling, and only costs $2 (the one cup of coffee eats up $1.60 of the cost of breakfast).

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We ate at the shop once, but the tiny table and stools that are common at shop fronts in China are just way too small for our big American bodies. Also, the bowl is full of the best soy milk we have ever had. Perfect temperature, texture, and sweetness. Yum!

Our favorite stop for lunch is a place we call “The Good Build Your Own”. At the front of the shop, there is a case of fresh vegetables and meats. We are given a bowl and some tongs, then left to our leisure. We fill our bowl with the ingredients we want, then hand it off to the cook, who asks us whether we want rice or noodles. There are four identical restaurants of this style all on the same block, but there is one in particular that always serves us a larger portion than the others, hence the word “Good” in the title. Depending on the amount of meat you put in the bowl, the price will vary between $2.30 and $2.60.

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This is a $2.30 bowl with rice. It has broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, and bacon.
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This is a $2.60 bowl because it includes pork AND and egg. It also has noodles, snap peas, carrots, and mushrooms.

For dinner, we usually enjoy a more traditional sit-down restaurant. We named our favorite place “Paper Lantern” because of the restaurant’s choice of lighting decorations. We haven’t ordered the same thing twice because everything has been delicious. My favorite has been the sweet and sour eggplant, but Josh’s favorite was the beef and potatoes. With one or two dishes and a big bowl of rice, we are usually charged about $6 for dinner.

At the sit-down restaurants in South China, it is common to wash your dishes before you eat. Most of the time, the dishes have already been professionally washed, packed, and sealed in wrap, but the tradition lives on.

Yesterday, we made a friend down in the common room and invited him out to join us for Yangshuo’s most popular dish, Beer Fish. We had a great time chatting with someone new and enjoyed a good meal with good company. The fish was delicious, but nothing to write home about (although I guess that is exactly what I am doing!). It came in a large, hot dish with a candle underneath to keep it warm. The tomatoes made it a little saucy and gave it an almost Spanish flavor.

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It didn’t taste anything like beer. We think it was a grilled carp, cut in half then served in the dish with oil, tomatoes, beef stock(?), garlic, bamboo shoots, and chives.

 

We only have a few days left in Yangshuo and I know I will miss all my favorite stops. But the only thing better than the food I like, is more food I like. Can’t wait to see what our next stop tastes like!

Bike Ride – Yangshuo’s Ten Mile Gallery

The sun finally came out and we have been trying to cram in as much fun as possible while we still have it. One of the first things on my to-do list was a bicycle along the portion of the ten mile gallery that we missed during our last excursion. This loop portion splits off at the bridge and follows the river instead of the valley.

The sun finally came out and we have been trying to cram in as much fun as possible while we still have it. One of the first things on my to-do list was to cycle along the portion of the Ten Mile Gallery that we missed during our last excursion, which took us through a little valley. This time, instead of crossing the river into the valley, we turned at the bridge and followed the river.

We rented bikes from our hostel for $0.75 each. My bike was missing front brakes and was stuck in high gear. Josh’s was stuck in low gear and had a persistent squeak if he touched the back brakes. But overall, I was quite happy with the bikes and enjoyed a comfortable ride.

Our first adventure was to get to the Gallery’s gate, where traffic becomes limited. This requires a 15 minute journey through the busy streets of our small town. I took the lead. The key seems to be: ride like you aren’t scared to death and just go with the flow.

Once through the gate, it was smooth sailing, with only a few cars, scooters, or cyclists along the way. Rather than an “out and back” like last time, our route took us off on a small street that runs along the river, eventually looping back into town. The wind and rain from the day before pushed out most of the pollution, and the sun finally made an appearance, so the day was beautiful! The colors were vibrant and clear. The majority of the road was very scenic, winding between the mountains and rivers, but there were also large sections of farmland dotted with small villages that were super cute. Everything about it was amazing! Best Day Ever!

Yangshuo, China karst mountains behind bike on road

Each place had a small collection of people going about their business. Some would shout at us to stop and check their menus, some were doing laundry in the farm canals, kids were playing with dogs, and men were washing their cars using buckets of water and rags.

[Tangent Alert] I’ve noticed a real lack of hoses in China. For example, there is a farm outside of my window at the hostel. Since I am a horrible snoop, I spend much of my morning watching the neighbor woman attend the farm. It is the same routine each day. She walks through her fields, bends over every so often to either collect something or discard something, then fills a bucket with water from the central well. The bucket has a rope attached that she wears across her chest. She lumbers from one patch of green to the next and ladles out water to the plants using a large soup ladle. It takes her nearly all day to get through her small patch of land. I am sure she isn’t a representation of all farmers here, but it struck my curiosity and really made me consider the farming fields surrounding the path we were riding on. There were well-planned canals webbed throughout the fields, but I didn’t see any sprinklers or tractors. Do they all water the fields by hand?

Farm and karst mountains with bike on road in Yangshuo China

Of course, my favorite part was the mountains! I have been looking at these strangely shaped pimples on the earth for a month now and I am still mesmerized by nearly every one. My camera is full of pictures of this mountain, and that mountain, and the one next to it. I think Josh is over the glamour (or maybe never had it to begin with), but I am still in love and have found my bliss.

riding bicycle bike in Yangshu China at 10 Mile Gallery. Karst mountain and farm

Although the ride took a few hours due to my constant need for pictures, the trip was only a little over three miles and dropped us off on the other end of town. The plan was to have lunch at a popular expat pub on the way, but it looked like they were closed for the season (seems to be the case at many places). So, we followed our noses and found a block of Chinese fast food restaurants.

We enjoyed some beef and potatoes, green beans with sausage and chilies, egg-wrapped pork meatballs, a giant bowl of noodle soup, and two bowls of rice. All this for only $2! We left stuffed and happy.

Somehow, we were able to drag our full, tired bodies back home, and finished off the afternoon with a nap. What a day!

 

Bird Watching in Guangxi, China – January 2018

The birding in Guangxi was awesome despite the cold. I am particularly excited that each bird I found was a new addition to my life list.

Birding in Guangxi was awesome despite the cold. I lived next door to a farm, so it was easy to spend time after breakfast each day watching the backyard birds. Without my usual apps I had a hard time identifying them all, but with the help of my friends on Reddit, I was able to get most of them.

Check out the beautiful guest house we stayed in while in Yangshuo. ♥

Bird Watching

I do not include caged birds on my Life List, but I do enjoy going to Aviaries and, in China’s case, the market(!). It was difficult to see the treatment of these animals, but it was interesting to see the variety of birds available for both food and friend.

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My favorite bird of the month was the Blyth’s Kingfisher. I saw two different kingfishers in two different towns. Each time, they allowed me to get close enough for a halfway decent picture. One was spotted just off of a busy street. I got some very strange looks for stopping in the middle of traffic to get out my binoculars and camera, but after some bilingual charades, I made it clear that I was after the birds.

I am particularly excited that all seven of the Chinese birds I identified this month were new additions to my life list. I have caught a Kingfisher and Night Heron before, but never a Blyth’s Kingfisher or Chinese-Pond Heron. This one month added quite a few more birds to my list. All in all, it was a good month for birding.

January’s Birding List

Birds Identified: 7

New Birds: 7

Life List: 96


 

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Guangxi, China Birding – January 2018

The birding in Guangxi was awesome despite the cold. I am particularly excited that each bird I found was a new addition to my life list.

The birding in Guangxi this month was awesome despite the cold. I lived next door to a farm, so it was easy to spend time after breakfast each day watching the backyard birds. Without my usual apps I had a hard time identifying them all, but with the help of my friends on Reddit, I was able to get most of them.

I do not include caged birds on my Life List, but I do enjoy going to Aviaries and, in China’s case, the market(!). It was difficult to see the treatment of these animals, but it was interesting to see the variety of birds available for both food and friend.

20180123_124806

My favorite bird of the month was the Blyth’s Kingfisher. I saw two different kingfishers in two different towns. Each time, they allowed me to get close enough for a halfway decent picture. One was spotted just off of a busy street. I got some very strange looks for stopping in the middle of traffic to get out my binoculars and camera, but after some bilingual charades, I made it clear that I was after the birds.

I am particularly excited that all seven of the birds I identified this month were new additions to my life list. I have caught a Kingfisher and Night Heron before, but never a Blyth’s Kingfisher or Chinese-Pond Heron. This one month added quite a few more birds to my list. All in all, it was a good month for birding.


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Birding Update – January 2018

Identified: 7

New: 7

Life List: 96


  • Blyth’s Kingfisher
  • Chinese-Pond Heron
  • Collared Crow
  • Common Stonechat
  • Crested Myna
  • Daurian Redstart
  • White Wagtail

 

Our First Scooter Adventure – Moon Hill

We rented an electric scooter, braved the Chinese traffic, and set out for a hike up Moon Hill near Yangshuo.

One of the more interesting things we’ve seen since arriving in China is the swarms of electric scooters buzzing about on the roads. I’ve been wanting to try one out for a while now, but Josh has been a bit nervous about driving in the insane traffic (the only rule seems to be “don’t hit anyone else”). Our hostel in Yangshuo rents electric scooters for ¥50 (~$8) per day, so on one particularly warm morning I finally convinced Josh drive me around to see the sights.

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I had a nice, comfortable ride on the back.

Our destination was a stretch of road known as the Ten Mile Gallery. I have no idea why it’s called that, but it seems to be a generic name for these sort of scenic drives. This one was nowhere near ten miles long, but it was certainly scenic, with ornate Chinese-style gates at each entrance and beautiful scenery throughout. There are also many little places where you can pull over and explore a bit. I sat on the back and took pictures while Josh piloted us around.

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View from a bridge we crossed

There’s limited access for cars and trucks on this road, so we had very little traffic to contend with once we got through the gate. Electric scooters are considered bicycles here, so we simply rode through the gate without stopping. We scooted down the road next to tandem bikes, walkers, and other scooters. The ride was easy and the view was out of this world. We stopped at only one of the side excursions on this trip (there will be more), a nice hike up to Moon Hill.

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Moon Hill from the street

We paid our fare of ¥14 ($2) each to get in, then parked our little scooter inside the gate. We were immediately accosted by women trying to sell us overpriced drinks, but they were very friendly and did eventually let us go our own way.

The hike was broken up into three marked trails: Moon Palace, Moon Pagoda, and the strangely named Dresser. We started up the Pagoda trail and was shouted at by our new soda-hawking friends at the bottom to take the Palace trail instead. As per usual in China, the trail was less of a dirt path and more of an ongoing set of stone stairs, swept clean of any leaves or debris.

Halfway up, we decided to veer off and take the Dresser trail. At least, we think that’s the trail we took; there were two signs at the fork, one saying “Dresser”, and one saying “Vanity”. Regardless of the name, it looked like a fairly easy climb (fewer stairs), and headed toward a nearby rise that looked like it would give a view of the Moon Hill arch. It was a short climb, and at the top, we were indeed treated to a nice view of the arch.

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Moon Hill from Dresser Trail

After our short detour, we turned around and continued up the Palace trail. The stairs became narrow and uneven as we neared the top, and the angle was quite steep, turning our comfortable walk into a strenuous climb. But, right when I thought I wasn’t going to make it, we arrived. We turned a corner and, BAM, we were under the arch.

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View from under Moon Hill

It was much larger than I expected. There were stalactites hanging from the top, dripping onto our heads, and looking ready to tumble at any moment. The arch itself was quite lovely, but the view of the surrounding valley and neighboring mountains was even better.

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View of the surroundings from under Moon Hill’s arch

Aided by gravity, the climb down was much easier than the climb up. We bartered for a coke at the bottom, bringing the ladies down to ¥5 from their requested ¥10 (our hostel sells them for ¥3, but we were pretty thirsty). We bundled ourselves up, enjoyed our delicious soda, and headed back to town. We got there just in time, too, because it started to rain just before we arrived.

I had so much fun riding on the back of the scooter, feeling free and adventurous. The Ten Mile Gallery has a lot of other fun side trips and scenery to offer, and I can’t wait until the sun comes back out so we can go on another scooting adventure!