Day 147: Yangshuo, China

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April 23rd 2010
Published: May 4th 2010
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Day 147: Friday, April 23rd, 2010.
Yangshuo, China.

Per Intrepid notes, "On day 5 we experience the landscape on a bike ride to gain an insight into rural Chinese life, stopping for lunch at the house of our local friends or riverside cafe for a tasty meal made from locally grown and farmed produce. This is an absolutely stunning region to explore, as every turn in the road brings you to another picture-postcard location, and this is why Yangshuo is a firm favourite with travellers.

Yangshuo is one of the best places in the country to get a feel for local culture and traditions. In your free time on day 5 you can take a cooking class to learn to make some of the local specialties, go on a relaxing boat ride along the Li River, try your hand at Chinese calligraphy, visit the fascinating wet market or take an early morning tai chi class by the riverside. In the evening, the spectacular outdoor show staged by Olympic Opening Ceremony director Zhang Yimou is a highlight for many.'

That morning, it was a beautiful sunny day (first in forever for Yangshuo) and we all hop on bikes and follow our local guide off into the country. Many stops along the way for photographs (and for those of us out of shape, ie: me, to catch our breath.) Along the way, local merchants would try to sell us stuff and I introduced the group to my favorite Mandarin phrase, phonetically spelled: "Boo yow, shea shea." Which means "I do not want, thank you". However, even I couldn't utter the phrase when a very old, bent in half woman wanted us to buy flower wreaths for our hair. So, myself, Sue and Gloria paid up, got our picture taken with her and rode off into the distance looking like we were searching for our May Pole.

Beautiful countryside and fascinating rural life. About 2.5 hours into our ride, we stopped at Moon Hill Cafe and enjoyed some wonderful local dishes. I could have eaten so much more but I was remembering the motorbike trip in Hue and didn't feel like repeating that, so I mostly ate rice. We took some pictures of Moon Hill which loomed over the restaurant and hopped back on the bikes for another 1.5 hours. The bike seats were killing all of us, so once again, misery loves company.

When we get back to the hotel, we crash for a bit and then myself, Damon, Sue, Gloria, Bruce and Paul decide to hike up Green Lotus Peak in Yangshuo where you could supposedly have a great view. Ling, myself and Rita had tried to do it last time but due to the rain, it had been closed. We get to the park and, once again, the main peak is closed. We finally decide that halfway is good enough for us (which is as far as you could go) and buy some tickets. Unfortunately, the park now closes in 30 minutes. So, we all start hoofin' it up the stairs. Bruce and Gloria leave us in their dust and I'm somehow ahead of Damon, Paul and Sue but only by one flight. Finally, my lungs and legs go "No more" and I stop on one landing of stairs gasping for breath. I turn around to see Sue coming up the stairs and her head is down and watching the steps and she doesn't see the tree branch that is at head level and really thwacks her head against it. Unfortunately she doesn't have hair, just a baseball cap to cushion the blow. I, being a good friend, silently laugh (I was so out of breath that I couldn't even do a real breath) and manage to get out a whisper of "are you okay?" She just looks at me, dazed, and I realize she isn't- laughter stops. I head down and she is okay, just had some stars in her eyes for a minute. There is a welt already forming where she hit. We decide we're high enough and head over to a pagoda to take some pictures. It was quite pretty, don't think we would have gained much more by getting any higher (Bruce & Gloria said there were only a couple more flights after we backed out so we didn't miss much.)

We are then ushered out of the park and we take a walk down by the Li River and see what is going on there (I was playing unofficial tour guide since I had been there a week earlier- it was fun! Hopefully i didn't let the power/control go to my head, as I often do.) I had regretted not getting a picture taken with a cormorant fisherman last time so I did that. He let me wear his woven bee hive hat and he wore my green army-type baseball hat with the floral wreath on it- good sport! We then walked along the river, they tried out the home made gym equipment and agreed that the States and Canada needed that in their parks, and then headed over to MC Blues for some drinks. Unfortunately the river was still too high so we're not going to get a chance to see the light show nor the cormorant fishermen at work.

While there, a man stops at the table and hands over a silhouette paper cut out to me and indicates that I should buy it. I glance at it and go "boo you shea shea" and turn back to Sue who I had been talking to. I hear someone say, "you should get it, it's quite good" and I glance back at it and think "no, it's not- it's a silhouette of someone, I don't care" and then I realized that it was a silhouette of me. Ugh, you can't say no to it then- what is the man going to do with it if you don't buy it. I tried to get him to trim down my double chin but that confused him. So, he told me one price, I told him a lower one but he didn't budge. Unfortunately, he wasn't really in the position for a bidding war because I happily would have walked away entirely, so he came down to my price (which was still reasonable- I didn't rip off the local.) He then starts doing one of Sue and we realize that this is going to go on forever so we try to gather up our stuff. He whips one out of Sue and then of Steve before we can make a getaway so they are also guilted into buying it. We then go across the street to Wood Fired Pizza. We ended up crashing on their 3rd floor balcony for a couple of hours, just enjoying the food and each other's company.

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