Biking and Climbing at its Best!

Trip Start Aug 28, 2012
Trip End Aug 09, 2013

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Flag of China  , Guangxi Zhuang,
Thursday, February 21, 2013

21-25th Feb – Yangshuo

The journey to Yangshuo wasn't as bad as I was expecting. The 26 hours went by unexpectedly quickly and the worst bit was between 12-3am when I felt pretty ill and just couldn't fall asleep. As always we were the entertainment on the train with lots of people coming to stare, both on the train and off. We actually ended up talking to 4 different people who could speak pretty good English, probably the best we've met yet. For once there was a moany kid; the kids in China don't seem to ever actually whine or cry but this one took the piss. We also had a good view of his bottom a lot of the time; the babies here have holes from the front to the back of their bottoms for easy toileting - so weird! How the parents don't end up with tonnes of wee and poo down them I don't know?! When we eventually arrived in Guilin I mixed up my right from left and went the wrong way to the bus station: somehow it worked out ok and we met a local going to Yangshuo and a lady conveniently selling tickets. We were then walked to the road where she tried to flag down buses for us to get onto: not the most official and turned out we paid a massive 1 more than anyone else for the bus!

Yangshuo is by far the prettiest place we've been. The landscape on the train was breath taking enough but the journey to Yangshuo just got us more excited about what we had coming up for us in the next 4 days. We arrived at the bus station at 6ish and Frank (my friend from my PGCE) came to meet us and walked us to his flat where we were all crashing in the lounge - a mini sleepover session! The town is just something I have never experienced before: there is just faces of rock surrounding the town everywhere. It's like a town that is situated between the peaks of Halong Bay! Amazing. One thing that I found very surprising was that the town is crazily touristy; you could be anywhere that has street upon street of restaurants all serving the same thing with the same seats and tables outside. Whilst I normally wouldn't like this it just seems to work here and adds to the whole vibe of the place: a sort of home from home. I can see why Frank has stayed; its maintained its Chinese heritage whilst having a bit of western influence also with westerners walking around.

We were in for a treat on arrival; Frank's housemate Max had made a beef and veg stew with homemade bread which was just what the doc ordered. It was great, especially after feeling unwell. After, we wandered over to the bar that Frank and his friends from work all hang out at - Rusty Boy. There we met Carla and Doug and had a couple of drinks before crashing out and starting our first sleepover session! The next morning we had a lie in...a good lie in til 10:30! After our new traditional breakfast of porridge we managed to finally make it out for lunch time of clay pot rice. This is a dish of rice cooked in a clay pot and you pick 2 meat, 2 veg that go with it. I had BBQ pork, twice cooked pork, aubergine and tomatoes. OMG - something so simple tasted so good! They obviously used copious amounts of garlic and no spice (perfect for me) and I don't know what they did but it just tasted bloody good.

We finally then started what we set out to do for the day; see the town. Frank walked us down to the river before heading off for a meeting. We should not have been left alone - we shopped. This place is great for shopping, there's some amazing stuff, but the sellers are the most pushiest I think we have experienced anywhere and the prices are extreme! As a result we just meandered and thought about what we really wanted (and had room for) for the day we leave to do it all again :) After 4 hours we made it back to Franks to go out again for dinner and drinks.

We went back to the same bar where we met Chelsea, as well as Bitezi (means white cabbage) and Chitzi - the guys dogs that are kinda passed around between staff (their actual owners both away). We had a first for our trip; restaurant food delivered to us in the bar! The restaurant, Kellys, was next door and Kelly herself bought us our burgers, which were great. What was even better was the apple pie Laura and I shared! With the alcohol flowing and everyone else having left apart from the 4 of us, Chelsea, Doug (who was behind the bar) and Bitezi! We then got hold of the music and had a good singing sesh before deciding we finally wanted to go to a karoke bar which we've wanted to do since we got into China. So we did, with Chelsea and the dog! Haha. Karoke in China was not as I had imagined: we went to KTV where ultimately they wouldn't let us sing and at 1am there was a kid in the bar, who was thrust upon Lara as we walked in. In an attempt to find some music we went to another bar which we more or less walked out of: a cocktail was 15; a g&t 8; a beer 5! Insane prices!

We finally settled in the "travellers bar" Mojos where there were very few travellers in - makes sense cos it is low season. We played beer pong - I am awful, and pool - I played potentially the best I ever had! All feeling a bit tired and worse for wear we headed to go to KFC before getting to bed at 4. I somehow woke with no hangover, and more surprisingly neither did anyone else. Still, we only made it out by 12:30 and had Mac Donalds for brunch - yum! Then the amazingness began.

We rented bikes for 1 and headed out for 10km/half an hour through the stunning scenery surrounding the town Because of it being Chinese new year the road out to where we were headed was still decorated with lanterns the entire way which just made it even more picturesque. The best view was when we arrived at the bridge over the River Yulong. Both views from each side were stunning, with bamboo rafts with tables on them floating by on one side. Just past this we took a left and on our Mary Poppins sort of road bikes we went for road...oh dear. Whilst the others didn't make a good job of it, I simply failed! I was stopping and starting, tipping over almost falling into the rice paddies and at one point skidded on a mud puddle and almost fell in that. But we all made it to our destination, dignity intact. And all this was done in the sun in fur lined Uggs and fleece lined leggings: we were boiling!

The reason for the bike ride was to go out to a crag to do some climbing! The sight alone was good enough, but to then get to climb it was amazing and Lara and I were very appreciative of Frank and his friends for letting us join them and for them helping us. I did 2 and a half climbs - the half having started one but my feet being in agony and having to come down and sort out my toes; I then did it again and triumphed! Great way to spend a potential hangover day rather than moping around on sofas and with movies!

We then all went for a Chinese meal - we ordered about 10 dishes between 7 of us, but annoyingly I could only happily eat 4 of them mainly due to spice :( Though I did eat snails for the first time in my life! They came in the shell but were mixed with pork mince and spices; they more or less tasted like stuffing! The rest of the evening we chilled with a film. And here it would seem we are able to sleep; we went to bed at 10ish and woke up at 10ish! The day more or less consisted of chill for all the hard climbing we didn't do the day before :P

After the climbing in Uggs yesterday to the climb site, Frank assured us this was an easy walk on pavements and concrete...he lied. The walk started with us getting lots of snacks from the bakery for lunch and then walking out of town by road the veering off along a road through the rice paddies. Then we veered off paths and roads altogether and ended up walking through fields of mud growing Uggs AGAIN - very warm! But it was a good walk and we got to see how the locals live going through their village and their fields. Our aim was to reach "secret beach" which it seems is no longer a secret because there was rubbish everywhere; it was just upsetting that Chinese people are ruining their landscape by not clearing away their own mess. We managed to find a pretty clear spot and set up for lunch: weird sweet pastry things, nuts, crisps and chocolate for me :) We also ended up sharing our picnic spot with some buffalo! We didn't really do much other than sit and chat and have a bit of a nap and after the time had flown and it was somehow 4:30 we started to head back the quick and easy (and clean!) way to town along the path next to the river. Dinner was the best bit of the day; we got 7 people together and ordered 7 different PIZZAS! OMG they were so good, surprisingly good considering they were from a Chinese family restaurant! We bought them back to the bar and pigged out! Then, belly full, I got out my creative talents and made a sign for the bar advertising what they do! I was very proud of my artwork and didn't even realise it was one that is then lit up outside the window! Everyone told me I had found a new job!

That evening was the Lantern Festival (we always seem to be in the right places!) and we went on a wonder in the hope of finding fireworks. On the way Lara bought cigs, paid, the guy gave her the change and then burped right in her face! Traditional Chinese habits. We went in search of fireworks, and did we not only find them, we found the best fireworks display I have ever seen in my life! Chinese having been the inventors of them, they sure know how to do a display: timed to music, timed to each other, and what I told everyone I was hoping to see in China - shaped fireworks of hearts, stars and even a smiley face!!! Absolutely brilliant, and all free to mark the end of Chinese New Year. We then walked down to the park where there had been celebrations earlier. The park was decorated very similarly to the temple fair we went to, with big bright dragons at one of the entrances. I live the way Chinese go out of their way to make things so magical for their celebrations.

Back at the bar afterwards we played a new card game called Spot It which invoices matching pictures on your card to one on the table. Great game! Then we headed to Mojos again for some more beer pong and pool on the wonky table! Time flew because one minute we'd arrived at 12 and the next minute it was 2:30 and we were leaving, all somehow shattered from our day of nothing! As a result the next morning was very unproductive with us not leaving the flat til 1 to meet the others for lunch at clay pot again which we'd arranged the previous night. Everyone managed to make it, despite some being a bit worse for wear. Not to ruin something good I had the same again, and once again the aubergine was amazing!

We then went shopping...again. But I was good; I only bought 2 gorgeous scarves; one that reminds me of India and one for China. We still managed to spend about 3 hours shopping before rushing back, packing, going to the post office and eating. Frank luckily had made us dinner whilst we were frantically sorting all our stuff and we finished that before begrudgingly leaving Yangshuo. I have really enjoyed it here; the location of beautiful and even though I haven't seemed to like the touristy places too much, this one just seems to work. I am so grateful to Frank and have very much enjoyed my time out of the cities of China.
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Frank on

I'm glad you guys enjoyed yourselves!

mummy on

You have definitely made me want to go to China - it is now not an option it is now a MUST. Love you lots xxxxxx

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