The grandma's the fanned Haley and I the entire way up Half Moon Hill
The past few days have been extremely busy and eventful! I'll try to catch up you all with some of the highlights. The Great Wall of China:
was quit impressive. We joined a small tour group organized through our hostel to the more remote part of the great wall. We actually passed the most popular refinished section of the great wall and where pretty amazed. Amazed at not only the size of the wall but also with the number of tourists on the wall (I think there was actually one continual line from the parking lot to the highest point on the wall. An hour further down the road is where eventually pulled off. We met up with our guide who ended up being some old man with a bottle of tea in one hand and a cigarette in the other. We where all worried for his health - but he seemed to make it around quite well. Unfortunately their isn't a lot to say about the wall. It is pretty much everything that you imagine, and then some. This huge wall goes snaking off into the distance across the mountains tops. Temple of Heaven:
Another site that
Great Wall of China
The less visited (private" section.
was in Beijing was the temple of heaven. This is another huge complex created for the Emperor and his entourage. Pretty similar to parts of the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. The thing of note at this place - and actually all of the places that we have been in china. Is that the Chinese tourists out number the western tourists 100 to 1. Everywhere that we have been has been pretty touristy but a different kind of tourists. Local tourists - if that makes sense. Beijing
Beijing has a ton to offer. I have been very impressed with the city. When I was planning out this trip i was worried that 5 or 6 days in the same city would be way too much. But now I realize that it is not close to enough. There is a ton of history here, a ton of sites to see...and that is only the basics. We haven't had a chance to do anything but see the "must do's". I highly recommend this city to anyone coming to china. Yangshuo
The second part of Haley and my trip takes place in remote city called Yangshuo. We bought tickets just
after we landed in china (and spent a little more then we had planned on). This place is one of the most geographically stunning places I have ever been. Better yet, it is the most geographically stunning place I have been. The landscape is out of this world (check out the pics). And the laid back, backpacker vibe is a bonus. We have both been "oohhing" and "awwwing" the entire time. It is an extremely flat area, very green, with 2 largish rivers that run though it. Which sounds pretty normal until you add these crazy crags (sp?) or huge cliffs that pop out of the ground everywhere. It is the type of scene that you see in the scroll paintings. I guess the best thing to say is check out the pics.
We have only been here for a day and a half but have already had a number of adventures. This morning we rented mountain bikes add took off to explore the countryside. It was reminiscent of New Zealand for me...we'd ride and the stop every 5 minutes to take pics. The halfway point of our bike ride was a place called "half moon hill" .
Which is a huge arch way. At the bottom of this cliff is a small parking lot with a bunch of old ladies. We decided to hike up the mountain and where each accompanied by one of the old ladies. Apparently the way that they make money is to hike up the 900 odd steps (steep steep - difficult hike) along side you fanning you the entire time and lugging a cooler of cold water on there back to sell you (at 20 times the normal price). It was such a hilarious concept that Haley and I had to humor them and let them tag a long. We learned that my lady was 76 and Haley's was 68. old old tiny Chinese ladies. After about 5 minutes my chick had given up on fanning me and was huffing and puffing under the load of her cooler. We tried to help her out but she didn't seem to like that. They kept insisting on breaks and it was really hard to say no. If you can imagine, Haley and I, in 90 degree weather - hiking up this huge mountain with two grandma's next to us fanning us when ever they
caught there breath. I was honestly giggling the entire way. About half way up we had enough and felt pretty bad. We gave them a large tip and signaled to them that they could go back down. The kept following us....we ran up the trail....they kept following us....i turned around, ran back and told them to go down the mountain again. We finally though we lost them and are relaxing on the top of the cliff when Haley spotted the yellow shirt of the 80 year old....their they were! slowly making there way up. I could not believe it. RELENTLESS! So we took a few pics with them at the crest and then finally gave up hope of losing them and slowly walked back down the mountain.
After the madness at moon hill Haley and i continued to follow the river until we came to another popular spot. This time instead of hiking the event was rafting. They had a bunch of bamboo rafts with chairs on top and they would float you down the river. This seemed to be a "Chinese only" thing but Haley and I worked our way in. After some negotiations we were able to
score a pretty good deal on one raft for the two of us and our bikes. There was a little bit of an ordeal getting everything loaded onto the raft (everything being Haley, myself and the two bikes) and after much pointing and laughing from the crowded we started our trip down the river. Haley and I noticed almost right away that we should have taken two separate boats. Not only did we have the youngest porter (15) pushing us down the river, but we also had the heaviest load of anyone and our boat was half under the water. Which proved to be ok until we got to the small waterfalls. Each (of the 3) waterfalls was a life or death situation (especially for my camera) our guide bailed on 2 of the 3 falls and we where left to float down the river on our own until he was able to catch up on the bank or on the back of another raft (their were plenty of rafts). In all of my travelling I have never had as much starring and odds looks as I did today floating down the river in a bamboo raft with my girlfriend,
2 mountains bikes and a 15 year old porter trying to earn his rite of passage.
Chinese love to sing - we often see karaoke singers at Internet cafes or people with microphones singing in the park - or even our cab drivers will break out in tune. It is quite entertaining!
I had been looking forward to the famous Peking duck for weeks - well i finally got around to eating it and I though it was huge disappointment.
Haley must get 15 complements on her eyes each day. The Chinese are fascinated by her large "beautiful eyes".
Haley is a maniac at the malls here - I have to actually talk to her 3 times and then tell her to look me in the eye before she actually knows that i am around - I have never seen anything like it before.
Everyone seems to be amazed at might height. And I have been told that "normally the hike takes 30 minutes but since you are so high it will take 20".
Things are really cheap here large bottle of beer are 50 cents, bottles of water are 10 cents
and dinner is typically $2.50. Hour long foot massage is $2.50 and the hour long body massage that we had to day was about $7
Fisherman in Yangshuo use some sort of diving bird to fish with. The have a rope attached to the birds leg and when it dives down and catches a fish the fisherman grabs it by the neck before it can swallow the fish and grabs it - pretty ingenious!
Check out Haley's blog for a different perspecitive (much more descriptive too!)
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