Christmas 2011 – The Inn in Yangshuo

All past inn keepers I’ve met were middle-aged or older; these two were very young.

Liuli and Beizi*

They were not from here. He came to this town as a tourist and liked it. He quit his job and started a tiny inn downtown. He likes photography, so he made his inn to attract guests with similar interests. He was able to make enough money to pay rent for the inn during the “golden weeks” (holiday weeks in China). After that, he locked up the inn and went on photography trips. That was more than two years ago.

We picked this inn because it is top-rated on Trip Advisor and because it is away from the tourists’ hot spots in Yangshuo. Yangshuo is in Southwest China. The region has incomparable, natural beauties.

Town’s road was quiet. Sugar cane is in season. Osmanthus trees are still in bloom. But 50F is considered winter; people don’t swarm here.
We turned onto a dirt path. The van rattled all over. The driver said it is three years old, about time to sell it before he has to spend money on repair. He was hired by the Inn to pick us up. He's a very friendly local.
Then, out of nowhere stood a wrought iron gate. Paved road began.
The room was kept warm. The mountains were just outside of the window. The shower was hot.
We slept in. Dogs barked somewhere afar, birds sang. Morning was bright.

The young couple met in Shengzhen. This is one of the most famous modern cities in China, not because it had any particular history but because this former fishing village turned into a booming city overnight, after China opened its door to the Western world in the 80s. For twenty years, people went there looking for opportunities. They were among them.

She worked for eight years up the corporate ladder until she became a manager. He was an engineer, working for a Taiwanese-owned company. They had very narrow responsibilities – For efficiency sake their companies were run like assembly lines. Housing was expensive, they commuted. Work was demanding, they put in long hours. It was normal for the boss to call any time, even midnight. She had sleeping problems. They quit.

By chance they came here and loved the place instantly. The owner just finished construction. The rooms were almost ready to move in. They had no experience running a big inn like this but they want to. The owner was looking for someone who knows how to play the Internet. Their friends said this was risky, who knows whether they were signing the lease with a crook? What if he ran away? What if they cannot make money? But they still did. They loved it too much.

The air is fresher than downtown. Guests are nice. I like the peace here on the hilltop. Our friends say we are taking an early retirement. I enjoy it. Although our sleep pattern depends on the schedule of the guests, I do not have to commute and get to the office by a certain hour. I sleep much better. My anxiety is gone. Indeed, they both are easy-going and relaxed.

They got their parents here to help. The mother cooked. We stuffed ourselves with the homey meals every morning. (Millet porridge, thick sweet bing with the texture of bread, thin egg bing made from batter the same way as pancake, steamed scallion buns, hard-boiled eggs, homemade pickled turnips and orange jam. Then there is the local fruit, jing ju, which are of the size of cherry tomatoes. They taste like mandarin orange. It is the skin you are after, not the inside. They are just in season, deliciously refreshing!)
Father gardened and landscaped. "It is nice to give older people something to do. They like working. If they don't they are more likely to get sick from being idle."
The sister is a student. She is helping during the winter break. "We eat dumplings for Chinese New Year. Today is Christmas, we made dumplings for you."
What a delight after having had the salad that was frozen stiff on the China Southern last night.
We biked for hours through mountains dotted with villages that afternoon. The December sun was perfect.
At night, we sat outside, chatting with the young lady, breathing in the cool mountain air.

They are adding 13 more rooms. Yes, we’ll be very busy and might need to hire new people. We hired one person but soon she left. She must have felt awkward being the only non-family member among us. Oh yes, when in the beginning we ran into lots of problems, like the drainage. The owner didn’t install a U-tube, the bathroom stank like mad. We dug up all bathroom floors and re-installed it. Over the two years the engineer learned to fix a lot of things. Yes, there were a few memorable guests, like the one who complained about cold water. He should have let the water run a bit, it takes time for hot water to reach the room; or the Dutch couple who fought drunk and ran out of the room naked. There were days we worried to death because a foreigner-guest didn’t return until past midnight. No, we have to wait until everyone comes back. We feel responsible for the guests.

On a lower level of the hill was a big area. The owner of this place runs a restaurant there to entertain day-guests. The inn keepers do not participate in this part of the business. But the guests like us can eat in the restaurant if we want to.
Business people, officials on business bucks, and students come here to have roast geese, roast whole pig or sheep, sing karaoke in warmer days.
Beer and sorghum wine go well with the surroundings.

No, we do not actively market the rooms right now. We like it this way. We are working but not busy. We’ve been busy all year. It is time for us to take a little break.

Everyday, we got up, ate the meal their mother cooked and went to the places Liuli and Beizi suggested. If we go to Yangshuo again, we would stay in the same inn again.

*Photo courtesy of Liuli and Beizi.


4 thoughts on “Christmas 2011 – The Inn in Yangshuo

  1. Thank you for sharing your vacation story and photos! Your story made me want to visit Yangshuo and meet the innkeepers.

  2. did you see the show ‘Impressions of Liu 3 jie’? We took the boat from guilin to Yangshuo (over 2 hours), saw the show last august. but didn’t stay there.

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