Hectic Days In, And Getting To, Yangshuo
Yangshuo Travel Blog› entry 98 of 117 › view all entries
This is the second time I've attempted to write this blog; the first time I got Chinese symbols replacing Roman ones before the computer annoyingly crashed altogether as I was doing the finishing touches. (Needless to say the original was much more informative and entertaining.) In fact, it's a good job that I had had a Tai Chi lesson to instill some inner tranquility, otherwise I might have had to unleash my own interpretation of the monkey claw on the PC monitor.
After a three-hour hydrofoil journey out of Hong Kong's harbour, we arrived in Gangzhou, where we would meet our guide, Dragon (second name not 'Slayer,' unfortunately), for the first time, who told us he couldn't meet us in Hong Kong due to visa restrictions on people from mainland China.
I was expecting the worst from the trains, but it actually ended up being quite comfortable. Dragon explained that over public holidays, it was often so crowded that people slept in the luggage racks and in the toilets and people would have to climb through windows to get on and off the train.
Yangshuo's scenery is spectacular, and very reminiscent of the karst landscapes of Halong Bay in Vietnam. A relaxing boat trip down the Li River was a good way to see the scenery in all its glory; you can even see the exact setting that appears on the 20 Yuan note if your boat is positioned well enough.
That evening, we watched some cormorant fishing, where the fishermen would have cormorants tied to their boat, catching fish for them, before they forced them to regurgitate their catch into a basket. It was a bit of a tourist trap, but interesting nonetheless.
The next day was a biggie. We started with a cycle through the countryside at 6:00am - as to avoid the 8:00(!) heat - to the foot of Moon Hill, which we duly climbed, which in the inevitable scorching heat and humidity was hard work.
While the others had had enough of cycling for one day (even though it was about 9:30), Steve, one of the Aussies, and I headed to Dragon Bridge, which was a much better cycle ride, following the river, past fish farms, rice paddies and cobbled villages. The bridge itself wasn't much to talk about, but the ride there really was special.
We arrived back in town with enough time to have a shower before our afternoon activities of Tai Chi and cooking. I enjoyed the Tai Chi - even though I was knackered - but by the time cooking came round I had worked up a big appetite - despite losing it for a while after a trip to the market made me witness dogs being butchered while others in cages sat waiting for a similar fate. We cooked beer fish, sweet and sour pork and stuffed peppers with pork and vegetables.
The following day was a complete contrast: I slept in late, did very little and hardly burned many calories. The only notable instance was the chat I had with a local Chinese student by the river. I find it hard not to be defensive as for the most part people do end up trying to sell you something, but in this case he was just trying to improve his English. So I spent some time helping him with some homework and told him a little about my trip, then compared life in England to that of China. Afterwards he asked his friend to take a photo of us, who then asked if he could have one, too. My new friend obviously wasn't such a good photographer as he did about as good a job at centreing us as a blind man in a coma, much to the friend's obvious dismay.