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Published: October 7th 2018
Front of out hotel
Straight ahead are rice paddies and a river if you keep walking.
This is likely true of all locations, but in this case, they are close.
Well, this is the most beautiful place I've ever seen.
Today we travelled out to Yangshuo, which is about 450k from Shenzhen where we've been staying, or about 2 hours on an awesomely fast train - I think it got up to 320 early in the trip but slowed down to an average of 250 for most of it. We wanted to get the most out of the day so the train we were on was the one that left at 7:20 in the morning, which meant leaving at 6:00, which meant waking at 5:30. Some of our party were less enthusiastic about this than others. But we made it with a mere 10 minute delay.
It's all a bit non-eventful. If you're trying to guide yourself around without any mandarin, I don't know how it could be done, it's really not English-friendly. Not that it should be, it's just that it's not. Fortunately we have Cinese speakers with us so things run relatively smoothly, except some confusion with Liam's ticket that I don't entirely understand but I suspect is going to be a bigger problem on the way back home. That's a problem for future Ray.
Yangshuo village is part of a larger district, and at the other end of that district is where the train actually comes in, so it takes about 50 minutes on a bus to get to the general area you want to be and another 10-15 minutes on a free transfer weird buggy/suicide-machine contraption to get us to our accommodation. Which is spectacular. So much good stuff, not sure what order to write stuff out. Chronological. So even though it's a touch over an hour all up to get to where you're staying, there's nobody alive that would even notice that that much time had passed. From the second you get out of the train, you're struck by how beautiful this place is, there are these jagged mountains coming out of the ground everywhere, looking like misshapen teeth, while the rest of the land is just completely flat, but they're everywhere. Where we're staying tonight is surrounded by them on all sides. I don't know how to write how amazing it is. And there are a million photos but they don't even come close. Sidetracked...So the hour trip that takes 15 minutes in your head and the arrangements that seem difficult
but actually aren't are out of the way and you're dropped in front of the hotel we're staying in. It's called the Yangshuo Tea Cozy, and it's beautiful. We've got a family room so it's three beds in 2 rooms and a restaurant and pool downstairs that look out at the mountains, and a balcony that looks out over the rice fields and more mountains. And the shower looks out of different mountains. There's a lot of mountains. The balcony is, as it goes, where I'm writing this entry, with the crickets chirruping (I've never written that word before), the ducks quacking, the mosquitos buzzing and the neighbour choking. The last two are not entirely romantic admittedly, but they're happening.
After settling in we coaxed ourselves out of our comfortable and beautiful room and went for a walk out along the river. One thing I've noticed about China is that there's not wasted land. It's either a building, a road, a mountain, or a farm, there's not land that I've seen that hasn't had something done to it by people (except for most of the mountains). It's not the worst thing in the world, there's a lot of people
Took this on the drive to our accommodation
I thought I'd better take a photo of this, I won't see anything better that this mountain. Ha. What a fool.
here and they are very resourceful, but there's nowhere here you can just go for a walk and get away from people. That being said, the walk we went on was as close as you can get. If you walk out of our hotel and walk up the road a bit there's a pedestrian path that turns into a nice paved path that doubles back the way you came that you can walk down alongside the river. In the area between the road our hotel is on and the river is all farmed, almost all of it is rice fields, and it must be harvest time about now because the fields are all in various stages of maturity - most seem to have been harvested, a few were being burnt back while we walked along there (for reasons that I'm not able to research because anything that would give me an answer is censored here...), and then at the end of where we got to there were some crops that hadn't gotten any fruit on them yet and a few other fields where you could see the heads/ears/whatevers of rice on the end, so they're obviously due to be harvested
in the next few days. Or weeks. I don't know, I'm not a farmer.
There's a few other crops going too, I think sweet potato was the next most popular, then there was corn and some sort of bean, and a few other things stuck in here and there that must just be for the farmers. While we were walking back home there was a guy raking what I thought was fine gravel over his front yard - I thought he was doing some sort of zen garden thing, but when I went and had a look it was actually the rice from the harvest. Most of the homes along the road have a large concreted area at the front of the house and they must use it for drying out the rice before they put it in sacks. Again, I have no idea. Just run with it.
After that we went for a bit of a swim in the hotel's pool and had a few drinks and a couple of snacks from the restaurant and then our driver came and picked us up to take us to a show. The show was also incredible. It's set on
I'm not going to lie
I'm a bit please with this photo
the banks of the river, in a little section that I think doubles back on itself maybe? I don't know it was dark, but it's definitely a part of the river, maybe just an inlet. So we were sitting there and then one of us noticed the MASSIVE mountain that was only maybe 100 metres to our right, and then the lights went out and as our eyes adjusted to the dark we realised that there were probably 4 or 5 other mountains in the background behind the lake that we were sitting in, then all of a sudden they were lit up and this whole production started. I couldn't understand any of it, I don't think it matters too much, but it's really well done. It was designed by the guy who did the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics, and it's performed by I think about 600 local villagers, 3 times a night in the high season. Some of those details are quite likely wrong, but I'm not telling you the name of the performance so good luck trying to work out which ones. It goes for about an hour and they use really striking lighting throughout the
whole performance, and the whole thing is very much worth a visit - if you can work out what it is. A hint, it's not the Romance Show - that got good reviews, but I'm not sure if I believe them.
So that's about it. The mozzies have stopped buzzing now, which I suspect means they're drinking, and I'm the only person outside at the moment so maybe it's time to call it a night with this entry. Tomorrow we're off to a place I've wanted to go for about 8 years, so I'm looking forward to it! Lots of walking though, so maybe I'll just be dead.
So that's that, hope everybody is well, man I hope home hasn't changed much since I've been gone... ;-)
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