Bike Rides Round Yangshuo

Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Flag of China  , Guangxi Zhuang,
Wednesday, March 30, 2011

12:14 We've been cycling round the countryside today. I Got up at 830, and went to the bakery down the road and after browsing a fair few mysterious baked goods I got water and a sandwich for breakfast. The sandwich seemed to be some sort of all in one breakfast of egg, ham and another quite sweet layer, all arranged between 4 bits of bread all on top of each other and compacted down before being fried in egg(this is my best guess, i told you it was mysterious baked goods!). It was only half a sandwich as well! It was spitting outside and not sunny, or looking like it might even get sunny, but still quite warm. Back in my room I filled up my camelbak with the water and put it in my new bag, then ate my sandwich with my first cup of proper tea in a week or two (I know! How have I managed!)
We met up at 930 in the hotel lobby and walked into the town to the bike place. We chose our bikes and adjusted the seats, got the tyres pumped up and in some peoples cases, wobbled off trying to remember how to ride. I got a pretty good mountain bike with 3 gears on left and 3 on the right, and felt right at home. We cycled through town heading towards the countryside. Let me tell you, cycling is a dangerous affair here. There may be a bike lane the width of a car, and it's not painted green either. This is just an invitation to park it in, ride in the wrong direction up it, stand in it, leave your cart in it, drive into it. All whilst dodging collision with other cyclists, the silent electric scooters that whizz up behind you, and of course avoiding collision with the 14 other people in my group also wobbling about trying to negotiate the road! This seemed to be the most dangerous part of the day.
Once in the countryside I cycled ahead as the others were going pretty slowly and I haven't felt this fit in ages! My dear mum is always asking me on skype how my legs are, I know she worries as they can be a weak spot and without my legs working my trip i pretty much a write off, but I'm strong, pretty well, my legs are fine and I really do feel pretty fit.
The countryside was incredible, despite the sun not being out to give it that extra wow factor, I was still wowed.

We cycled by the people working in the rice fields, all stooped over. It makes sense now seeing some of the older people here, their backs are crooked after years of being bent over. The fields get flooded to be this wet, but they also grow oranges and vegetables and the pretty yellow rapeseed flowers on the dryer parts of land. Some people were ploughing their fields using a water buffalo. Jade tells us that the people are so poor that having a water buffalo is considered quite rich. We stopped at an ancient house, inside they were making tofu (we think) by spinning a stone that grinds on another stone. They also had some song birds, one does backflips as you count to 10 in English which was pretty amusing. There was a set of steps with a series of indentations in it. It appears that after however many years of being there that the water coming off the roof tiles created these holes, amazing that the steps have been there that long.

Often when we stop old women with barely any teeth and crooked backs emerge with beautifully made up head wear - a twine circle with flowers carefully arranged into it that you'd put on your head like a hat. They're really lovely but I have no use for these things and hate to say no as I know they are poor and probably so old now that working on the land is very difficult.

The ride was pretty flat, winding it's way around the thin vertical rock formations. The only pity was that it was cloudy (and that was only a pity because my photos would have been much more beautiful, the upside was that it wasn't too hot making us want to fall off the bikes). I think the pictures can tell a better story than me, although I've tried my best to describe it.

I have been enjoying life without noise. I have spent many years 'plugged in' as my folks would say, to my iPod, drowning out real life. An unexpected side effect of my dislike for music (a result of my break up which was 9 months ago now, and I can't believe it's been that long as it still feels too fresh in my memory and heart) is that I have been quite content with the sounds around me, whether it's the silence of the countryside with the sounds of the birds, running water, the tractor type vehicles, beeping scooters or cars. Or the busy chatter of the people around me, the traffic, the sellers trying to sell you postcards or all manner of pointless souvenir.

It has been nice to be in the real world where everything is different, where everyday is different. I remember now, when I was at school, I never wanted a desk job, I didn't want to live a life where everyday was the same, and yet I slipped into it, and forgot those childhood ideals for my life. Once I wasn't allowed to be a pilot anymore I just had to settle for something, anything really, and it was a desk job but it would never be the one job I always wanted, but I guess life just doesn't turn out the way you want it to because there is always someone or something to ruin your plans and your dreams and bring your world crashing down.

Anyway, after 3 hours cycling we stopped for lunch and saw Moon Hill, a hill with a big hole in it that makes it look like a crescent moon. Im not sure it looks moony, but it is pretty odd how it has managed to be formed like that. We had a lovely lunch and a nice rest before setting off again.
19:54 We were out cycling till 3, so quite a few hours of cycling in all. When I got back I decided it was time to have another downsize of the bags. I gathered up my trusty purple winter coat, my hat, long johns, scarf, pyjamas, my book on japan and a few other bits and went to the post office. The weight came to 5kg and cost 22 including the box for surface mail back to mum and dads house. (which you can expect in about 2 months time folks :) )
Afterwards I went back to the hotel to edit my pics and prepare them for a mass upload over dinner all whilst having a nice cup of tea. Once I'd done that I treated myself to a hot bath with another episode of desperate housewives before doing a bit of laundry.

At 7 I met a few of the others and we wen out for dinner to a place with Internet, so, whilst eating I also uploaded over a weeks worth of pictures. For dinner I fancied a change so I had spag Bol (which didn't come with mince) and garlic bread.
Whilst sitting at the table i was rather surprised to see a massive rat running around in the floor inside!!
Having had dinner with Fiona, Katrina, Suzy, Jenny and Janet, they all left and I was then joined by James, Becky, Harriet and Sarah (I was still uploading pics).
My mum came online and I chatted with her till 1130 before walking home in the rain.
Strangely my stomach was a bit iffy this evening which wasn't too pleasant :( so Im not sure what caused that.
When I got back to the hotel my room key didn't work. I knocked on the door, and after no response I thought Fiona must be out, so went back to reception. However on entering the room I found that she wasn't out, she was in bed.
It was a while before I got to sleep, I lie awake most nights, thinking about the same things every night. I don't like this part of the day, it's when I am reminded of why I came here and I wonder when I'll start thinking of other things. I look forward to that day.

The best thing today: being in the countryside in the warm air, the quiet, the beauty of it all and having a moment where I thought 'wow, I'm riding a bike IN China'

The worst thing: realising just how poor people are and how they try so hard to sell you things just to make a bit of money, and all we can do is say no, and how I wish I could just give them all something.

The most beautiful thing: there is no one thing I could choose. When faced with field upon field full of yellow flowers going a far as you can see and the horizon and surroundings looking like something out of avatar, that will be a memory I will see in my mind for a long time.
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Holmesinho on

Wonderful to hear you adjusting to a different pace of life and becoming absorbed in your surrounds.
I had a drink with Scraggy last night and he's getting the travel bug again and talking about popping out to meet you though he also has an option to go to Costa Rica.
Great to hear you feeling so strong, and impressed with your choice of transportation though it sounds almost as dangerous as riding the streets of Salford.
Cycle safe! N xx

Roy Grubb on

Hi Zoe,

Had an email from your dad about looking for accommodation here. Will you email us, so we can get in touch? roygrubb at iohk dot com


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