. Just after they'd finished, a couple of them sat back and looked at something that was moving on the table. It was only a BLEEDIN SNAKE!!!!! Now don't get me wrong, it was only a wiry little thing, but still, there was a snake on the table......a SNAKE..!! Jesus!! The afternoon brought with it more trekking through the (snake infested!! - ok I'll stop now) rice fields which was tougher than first thought. Kala's highlight of the day was the view from platform 1......lovely......my favourite part was when a dog was sick and another dog ate it!!! Champion!!
The much talked-about Yangshuo was to be our home for the next 4 nights, just a short bus journey from Guilin. Upon arrival it was clear this place was popular with both foreign and local tourists.....It was ABSOLUTELY RAMMED!!!! The hundreds of unusual limestone peaks that surround the town are the main reason that tourists are drawn to this place. Straight away you could see the scenery was superb!! First thing, laundry......huuhhh.....it's a gamble just to even do it here! Every time we get a load back, Kala smells her clothes to see if they are clean then folds them neatly, whereas I try everythin on to see how much it has shrunk upwards and stretched outwards!! Not good!! I'm gonna have a load of 'crop tops' at this rate!!! Anyway, we hired a couple of bikes (me, a steady mountain bike....Kala, a'shopper' bike from the early 90's...brilliant!!!) from our hostel and set out exploring the town
. Our aim was to get to 'Dragon Bridge' where the view of the limestone peaks was at its most beautiful apparently. Shortly after we set off we had to cross Yulong River before cycling alongside it for the most part. "Bamboo, bamboo, bamboo...??!!" is all you hear from the touts trying to get you to 'ride the river'. They CAN graft! It was gonna cost us 2 quid on a raft to get across........2 QUID?!!!! I'm not payin that!!! So after turning back, cycling the wrong way for 1/2 hour, turning around again, getting back to the crossing and paying 2 quid (!!!) we crossed the river. After that, bliss! We got the cycle path almost to ourselves (unheard of over here!!!) for about 3 or 4 miles in amongst the peaks!! Quite simply, stunning!! A definite highlight so far!! The increasingly rugged pathway through the rural farming villages made the early afternoon tougher, but we eventually made it to 'Dragon Bridge.' Eeeerrrrrrrr.......slight anticlimax if I'm honest. The pathway that leads to the bridge gave us better views of the peaks! That said, it was the base for a spot of lunch. We then went the wrong way for another hour (CHEEEEERS Lonely Planet!!) then settled on the same route back as we came in on. TOP (but exhausting) DAY!!
Saturday saw us take a bamboo raft down the Li River. I thought it would be a nice afternoon unwind to rest our weary legs, but there was more bloody traffic on the river than there is on the roads!!!! The 'motorised' raft took the edge of the whole thing aswell!
! Still, nice (in patches)! Chinese food is starting to grate on us a bit now so bakeries have become our new best friend! The other day I had a LOAF of chocolate bread and a cake for lunch!! YES!! On Sunday we had a mooch around another of China's 'party parks'! Yangshuo Park is certainly no 'Peoples Park' in Chengdu, but we managed to see a bit of Taichi, watch a very competitive women's bowls match and a bit of croquet - Christ only knows the rules of that one!!! We also witnessed a new sport which Kala named 'Racket Dance'! Women were dancing whilst balancing, swooping up and catching a ball on a racket! Watch out for it - it's gonna be huge!! After lunch we were gonna go up one of the peaks - 'Billian'. It was closed. Didn't wanna go up anyway!!! Cheers 'Billian'!!! And after that, rain stopped play for the remainder of our time here really. So we watched films and lazed at our hostel before braving the rain to come back to Guilin, in order for us to start the last leg of our China journey.....the road to Kunming, Lijiang and Tiger Leaping Gorge....
After battling through a Chinese old ladies slanging match (war zone!!) we got to our hostel in Guilin and celebrated with a 'Pizza Hut'...rock n roll!! A bit of trekking around the small village of Dazhai was on Wednesday's itinerary at the 'Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces', famed for their wobbly, curly (someone get me a thesaurus!!) appearance! This is possibly the first thing we've seen so far where it was TOTALLY the wrong time of year to go. In the summer, after the rains, they glisten a bold, bright green colour under the rays of the Chinese sun and look spectacular. In autumn, when the rice has just been harvested............they don't. More of a tired, hay colour!! That said, it still made good viewing and was decent day. We were accompanied by a bossy Polish woman, your token German traveller (they're EVERYWHERE!) and a Chinese girl who was a massive help! We got ourselves to one of the viewing points and had a spot of lunch. My chicken cartilage, bone and fat pepper dish was horrible, but it was the commotion at the other table where a bunch of Chinese blokes were eating that stole the headlines