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Published: October 13th 2010
I was up early, but hit the snooze button a few times, not quite motivated to rise just yet. My roommate got up and left and then I willed myself out of bed. I went downstairs to get information about my cave tour in the afternoon before setting out. I wanted a western breakfast.
I tried to recall where the Flying Dutchman was, since last time I was here I ate there all the time with everyone from CTLC. I found another little place next to a creek. My breakfast included Yunnan coffee, fresh fruit, yogurt, muesli, and mountain scenes. I also had a nice view of a McD in front of the mountain. Almost perfect.
I wandered through Yangshuo's back streets--the non-tourist area--where the locals live and got a few good photos of real China. I enjoyed watching people go on with their lives as though the city wasn't crawling with tourists, both foreign and Chinese. I sawa woman chopping spicy peppers in to a paste and a woman teaching her son to play a videogame in the corner of their sparsely furnished living room. I wandered some more and popped out on a main street, not far
Man on a bike
from the park. Remembering how much I loved the park last time I visited, I wasted no time braving the crazy intersection.
The park was just as I remembered it. It's a big and peaceful place, and people come to meet their friends and just spend time together. I saw quite a few women doing a choreographed dance to music (it sounded a bit revolutionary to me), and I saw people gathering to play cards while others gathered to watch them. Someone had even brought a keyboard and was playing it while a woman sang traditional songs. Men were fishing in the lake, and the hills overlooked everyone. After an hour or so I left, headed in the direction of my old hostel.
The Flying Dutchman is no more. It had been down the street from my old hostel and served up wonderful pancakes, coffee, and fresh-squeezed juice. Now it's a Chinese-owned restaurant advertising pizza outside. The colorful mural is still there, but it just didn't feel the same. I couldn't bring myself to go in.
I wandered down to the river and watched the hawkers, fishermen, and boats. A few Chinese people--including two dressed in ethnic
costumes--asked to take photos with me. I did take one with the costumed couple for myself. The scenery down by the river was just perfect and peaceful.
I left after a while and bought a painted fan. Two years ago I didn't buy one (I thought I could get them elsewhere for less) and I've been kicking myself ever since. It's a beautiful mountain and river landscape painted in black on silk. I also managed to find the used bookshop that I remembered from last time I visited. Ironically, after twisting and turning and calling a friend in Shenzhen, I finally found it... just down the street from where I ate breakfast. If only I had walked in the other direction earlier! I took my 'new' book to lunch and feasted on a veggie burger with cheese and fries.
My plan for the afternoon was to have a nap and then leave at 3pm for a cave tour. At 3 I was in the lobby, ready to go. So was everyone else. Except our ride. By 330 our ride still hadn't arrived. Our tour guide was also missing. We called her and there was no answer. By 345,
I was annoyed and thinking I'd rather not go, though our guide had reappeared and assured us that our ride was just stuck in traffic. Apparently the bus was coming all the way from Guilin. But yes, despite leaving an hour late, we'd still arrive back at our hotel around 6pm. So now the Y110 wasn't for 2 hours of sightseeing, but only for one. I no longer wanted to go because I felt like that was just too much money for so little time. It would either be amazing and I'd be rushed through, or it would be lackluster and I'd be upset about spending the money.
I met up with my roommate and another friend and we went to my beloved Monkey Jane's to watch the sunset. At 5pm it's really quiet and peaceful on the roof. They've changed a bit in the past two years--the furniture and bar have been moved around and instead of a pool table covered in plywood, they have a proper beer pong table. Quite impressive. The sunset was beautiful, but not too colorful.
We went for wood-fired pizza for dinner and were joined by a few more friends. The conversation
In Yangshuo Park
Dancing with music and choreography
turned to politics and history and I was pleased I could participate as much as I could. I also learned a bit about western influence and decisions over political boundaries in the Middle East. I love conversations where I learn about something I'm interested in.
After dinner we went in search of dessert and coffee. I opted for the local tea, GuiHua Tea, made from the osmanthus tree flower. While we were relaxing, hawker after hawker tried to sell us watches. I had my choice of "Rolex" and "Omega" timepieces. There were so many, it was like a parade of watch sellers. Fortunately, we were surrounded by lit hills, making the night more relaxing and peaceful.
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How was the tea from the osmanthus tree flower? Everyone in Hangzhou is talking about this tea and that it is in full bloom here so we will have a tea party soon with our Chinese English teachers. Bummer about the cave tour.
The tea was really good, actually. But I recommend getting a pot and not a cup--the pot will filter our the flowers, but a cup the float all over the top. Since they're small flowers, the literally cover the entire surface. Have you tried the longjing tea yet? That was excellent and local for you.