[S]pending time in the small and beautiful town of Yangshuo, China, is one of the fondest memories I have as a traveler.
I would wake up each morning to a slight fog, cool and fresh air, and the unbelievable view of karst mountain peaks sprouting up from the rice fields. Yangshuo is far removed from the bustling streets and modern skyscrapers that China is nowadays so famous for.
Yangshuo is quite a Chinese touristy town, and for this reason there’s an entire section of town dedicated to tourists from the big Chinese cities who come to Yangshuo is search of natural beauty and a relaxing holiday.
The great thing is, the domestic tourists who visit, stay in a very small portion of the town, and very few venture off the beaten path of attractions.
This is the reason why taking a bike ride just a very short distance from town, you’ll find yourself in the midst of ancient Chinese villages and the rural beauty of the countryside.
One of my favorite activities is eating, and if a meal can be paired with a bike ride into the beautiful farming fields and the gorgeous backdrop of mountain peaks, I’m psyched to go!
So one day after my leisure morning wake up, drinking a few cups of Chinese green tea, and munching down some fruit and a boazi, we hopped on our bicycles, en-route to a farmer’s restaurant.
You might be familiar with the term “farmer’s market,” a gathering of fresh and normally organic local produce and food all set up in a friendly little market setting.
Likewise, a Chinese farmer’s restaurant in the countryside of Yangshuo, is pretty much the same thing, only they also go the extra step to cook incredibly tasting dishes for you to eat, and you don’t need to do any shopping – I really like this idea!
So we arrived at the relaxing restaurant, basically a home overlooking the river with a beautiful view and the smell of food permeating the premises. Tables were scattered around, some on top of the hill, others next to the river, and others under a tent of shade.
If more than one group comes to eat, you can sit as far away from them as possible in order to enjoy your own space and comfort.
The food was nearly all prepared from ingredients grown or raised nearby. The produce was big and beautiful, the chickens and fish were alive moments before being ordered, and you could just tell the spices and herbs were quality and crisp.
Rice of course, is the staple and we loaded our plates with overflowing helpings.
Along with rice, our feast included pumpkin stir fried with garlic, scrambled duck eggs fried with chives, a huge platter of fresh local fish cooked with beer sauce, fresh bamboo shoots stir fried with beef, and cabbage fried with taro.
Without hesitation, we started to dig into our farmer’s lunch ferociously, poking and scooping as large of bites as possible with our chopsticks. Hungry from the bike ride and eager to taste such freshness, I couldn’t hold back.
Every single dish was expertly made, and it wasn’t just the cooking, but also the fact that all the ingredients were local, unpreserved, and fresh.
The veggies were crisp, the meat and fish had real flavor, and the seasonings were perfect. I also particularly enjoyed dousing each bite in chopped garlic and chili sauce.
Stomach overwhelmingly happy, we got back on our bicycles and pedaled our way back to Yangshuo, this time around, a lot slower than before!
Mark was raised in central Africa before migrating back to the U.S. for University. After graduating, he decided to continue traveling the world. On Migrationology, he shares the cultural side of travel from a slow-paced local perspective that often revolves around his love for eating all forms of food. Join him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @migrationology.