It seems like just yesterday that the DMZ Bar Yangshuo was a thing, in fact it has not been a ting for almost 5 years now, meaning it has been almost ten years since my fateful trip to Yangshuo
What the DMZ Bar?
Id come to Yangshuo on holiday just to see what the place was like and kinda fell in love with the place. It is truly beautiful and to such a degree that the back of a 20 RMB note has a picture of the place.
In fact it is just postcard perfect as a place to eat, sleep, drink and do work. And this along with some other reasons led me to come back a second time, which brought me back a third time.
Three’s the charm as they say and I ended up in bar/bookshop called The Bookshop. Owner said it was for sale, I liked the price and the next thing you knew me and Young Pioneer Tours had a bar.
Oh and it was named after the demilitarized zone sporting North and South Korea
Why did you buy the bar?
We’d originally been looking at opening a bar in the Philippines, or to be more precise Puerto Galera, This did not work out for a number of reasons, principle among them the greed of a friend, who I won’t mention except to say his first named rhymed with Kiss and his last name is the opposite of black.
I buried the idea until I was offered a place, at the right price in Yangshuo, before getting some investors and buying.
What was the DMZ Bar?
And as a North Korean themed bat we had more communist kitsch than you could shake a shitty stick at! Not to mention the fact that you could talk about tours and even book one from the bar.
The DMZ Bar apprenticeship
And as it was partly owned by Young Pioneer Tours we also used it as a gateway for people wanting to come and work for the company as a guide. This saw many people who would later become YPT legends cut their teeth at the DMZ before moving to become legendary Pioneers.
Of course not everyone made it through boot camp as you might expect and boy did we have some rather strange characters come through, but the DMZ Bar become a legendary fixture for both Yangshuo and of course our Pioneers, who would come just to say that they had been there.
For a while I truly did see it as one of my best achievements, but alas all good things must and do come to an end.
5 Years in Yangshuo
The bar and us there last a total of 5 years in Yangshuo, with the first two going gangbusters, 3 OK, 4 not so good and 5 a disaster. Why did it go like this? There were many reasons, such as us being to busy to be there as a face and bad staff, but mostly it was the change in Yangshuo.
One a place famed not just for its beauty, but also being a backpacker haven instead turned into a place where everyone simply wanted to rip you off. This then put off westerners, but also Chinese who could spend less traveling to Thailand, or wherever, rather than getting ripped off in their own country.
So, it had to come to an end. It is though not the last bar I at least expect, or intent to own, with me not only learning from my mistakes, but more importantly using this time to soak up ideas from my travels, so I can one day create the perfect bar.
When that day is, I really do not know.