Biking and Climbing at its Best!
Trip Start Aug 28, 2012
112Trip End Aug 09, 2013
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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
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
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 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 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
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 oranges...in 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
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
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.