Published: January 23rd 2006October 3rd 2004
Jumping off the ancient dragon bridge about 10kms up the Yu Long River from Yangshuo
Life is good.
I've now been here in Yangshuo for over two fantastic weeks and am definitly in holiday mode. I just realised its Sunday...could have been Wednesday for all i knew...yes, its great to be on holiday. Might be appropriate now to say a special hello to everyone at work... ;-)
While my Chinese language still sucks really badly, i do feel like I've started to become a little more intergrated into this fabulous laid back, friendly and welcoming international community here in South Western China. I can see myself coming back here quite often in the future.
So what have I been up to??? For starters I've been doing some work with an company here set up by a couple of Australian lads called Chinaclimb. While the pay sucks (there is none), I've been welcomed into the Chinaclimb family and got myself free accomodation, food and a Y100 bar tab for the rest of my time here. All this for 3 days of work...well if you would call it that. Chinaclimb
is many things, a bar, a restaurant, an adventure tour service (climbing, kayaking, caving, biking, rafting, etc etc) and a home to its family
Cheap Bike Guide
The kids of the Shanghai International School guiding me around the paddy fields of Yangshuo
of locals, drifters, adventure seekers and now me. As soon as the sun goes down and the climbers come back from the cliffs, Chinaclimb becomes a nightclub...
Arriving in town in the busiest period in Yangshuo all year, there is plenty of work around. On my first day here I was approached in the street by new Canadian Chinaclimb manager, Mike Bertuzzi who asked me if I would like to help them with a few school groups they had coming for a week of activities. So for two days i took groups of kids from an International school in Shanghai mountain biking through some of the most amazing scenery in the world.
Content in my new workplace, we eventually got the students up the Dragon river (Yi Long River) through little villages and paddy fields surrounded by huge Karst peaks to a 600 year old bridge called the Dragon Bridge. From the top it is a 9m drop into the river and provided quite a challenge for not only the kids, but for myself as well to jump off. After entertaining the locals with our leaps of faith (it was a Christian school group) we said some prayers,
Generational change in China
Monkey Jane and Granny out the front of Janes new house that she is building in her Grandmother's village
had a delicious feast prepared by the locals and then returned along the opposite side of the river.
On the third day I went with the kids to a huge cave recently been developed for tourism by the local village. Throughout the 30 min trek through the cave you get to see some of the most amazing formations of staligtites and staligmites ive ever seen, although a western tourism perspective it was frustrating to see how they are going about it. As we walked through the cave the tour guide would break off pieces of stalactites and stalagmites, scratch off lichen and generally abuse the features that have taken thousands of years to form. The path we took was hobbled together with flimsy bits of wood nailed together for ladders and walkways. There is much work to be done here to show the locals this is the best asset their village could hope for and how they need to preserve it.
We all had a mud bath at the end of it and then returned to town with all the mud still on us. We certainly turned a few heads covered in dried mud as we made the walk down busy West St down to the Li River at the bottom of town where we washed all the mud off us. All the school kids got quite a kick out of it. OK, I did too...
So yeah, i spose technically you could call what i did over the 3 days work, but I wont...
While much revelry has been had with the many westerners here in town, I've also been lucky enough to be invited along to partake in some more traditional celebrations here. My good mate Monkey Jane, has invited me and a few others along to her family's village on the outskirts of town twice now. The first was for her grandmothers 73rd birthday and the second was for the Mid Autum Festival, or the Moon festival, when people get together with thier families to celebrate the brightest full moon of the year and eat moon cakes.
Granny's birthday was nice, as the elder of her family, a big feast was prepared with all the family present. They were all very welcoming of us Laowi (whities). I gave her a bottle of WA Shiraz I brought over which they used for the toast. Quite amusing to see all the old aunties and uncles screw their faces up when they tasted this very nice drop. I think they appreciated the thought. And all under the watchful gaze of the huge Chairman Mao poster in the eating room...nice.
For the moon festival i helped Jane go to market, buy all the veg and meat and then went back to the village to help prepare the dishes. Little cousin was quite amused with my attempts to help out with what must be said was quite primative facilities...a water pump out the back of the mud shacks while the food was cooked in a big wok over an open flame in a smokey, dark kitchen.
While only young, Jane (Xiao Zeng) ever the businesswoman has worked hard and has established herself through her "Monkey Tours" here in town. While her family is considered one of the most prosperous in the village, gas appliances and fridges are yet to appear in their house. This moon festival Granny was keen to let all the neighbours know just how successful she was by demanding Jane to let off the biggest and best firecrackers in the village. We all obliged and brought along all sorts of rockets, bangers and crackers that were set off after dinner. Happy to report we had the best crackers in the village by a mile.
During the day I have been keeping myself busy with much climbing on the many crags around Yangshuo. There is also a good outdoor basketball court here in town where all the basketballers meet up at 5pm everyday for a pickup game. They are actually not too bad players, most of them have a nice shot but needless to say i tower over them all and little defence is seen, which suits me just fine. Still all good practice for the upcoming tour with the Tigers which starts on the 17th Oct.
Will be staying in Yangshuo for another few days. My climbing guru and old high school mate, Karl and his girlfriend Anthea are arriving in town any day now so I'm looking forward to that. We plan to do some travelling to Yunnan province from the 6th oct.
Heaps of other stories to tell but id hate to bore you...