Practicing English In Yangshuo

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April 28th 2011
Published: April 29th 2011
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April 24th-27th 2011

When we arrived in the scenic Yangshuo, I instantly started to like this town. This town is more how I imagined China to be, it has a very old fashioned feel to it. The city is surrounded by beautiful unique mountains, I believe they are called karst peaks, and a river run’s thru the city, markets, shops, and much more. As I started to walk around we found out Yangshuo is a backpacker’s city and nearly all the locals speak decent English, and for once, I don’t feel like the only tourist and that everyone is watching.

Since we arrived at 5:30am, we checked in at our hotel and quickly freshened up before we all went to breakfast and took a quick walk around the main streets. We basically had the day to ourselves before meeting up and taking what was supposed to be a pleasing boat ride down the Li River. The boats were small two-seaters made out of bamboo with a guide that stands on the back and paddles. I was with my roommate for the trip, the great Javier from a town near Madrid, Spain. The ride itself offered many breathtaking views, almost all ruined by the current tourist boom. The boat ride was supposed to have the old time feel but each boat had a large bright rainbow umbrella and with the addition of the locals trying to sell you something every 1-2 minutes for the two hour ride, killed that mood. “Buy coke, buy beer, buy guide beer, buy guide cigarette, buy picture...” is all we heard. Some people complained after and we found that the boat guides were on strike the previous weeks so to get extra money, they get commission on anything we buy. Our guide stopped on a platform for 10-15 minutes until we bought something but by then we were separated from our group, which turned out ok since there were six gorgeous Chinese women near us the rest of the way.

The rest of the day was to ourselves, so I decided to wander the town myself and met three Chinese college girls studying English and they were here on an assignment to practice English with a foreigner for the first time. So they joined me for the rest of the night only to learn that it was the entire English department of 150+ students there so many more joined and were shooting away with questions, but I didn’t mind. I actually enjoyed hanging out with 3 of them once everyone else left and made plans to meet up with them the next day. I stayed out and met many westerners that were actually living in Yangshuo and they started taking me out to many different places.

The next morning the tour group had a countryside bike ride through all these gorgeous mountains once we were able to safely ride our bikes outside of the city. The drivers in China are crazy and there are never breaks in traffic to safely cross streets. The bike ride turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip cause it was very peaceful, we got to see local farmers which used water buffalos in their farming.

Later that night, I met up with the Chinese people from the night before and we started to walk around. I wanted to buy a t-shirt but most wouldn’t fit me, despite the fact i have been losing weight on this trip; to get an idea of their sizes, an extra large in China would be roughly a medium in the States. So my new Chinese friends made it a mission for themselves to find me a shirt and we ended up finding a place that makes custom shirts by painting them in front of you. We picked a chinese picture of a bamboo plant and they looked up a great poem about meeting new people from other countries and becoming friends. The artist refused to put the poem on though because the author is considered a defector by the current government, thus making it illegal for them to use it. So one of the guys I was with made up a poem about that went something like this (i am still going to ask my guide before i wear the shirt), “Most people pick flowers to paint, I pick bamboo because I am my own individual and unique.” It looks good Chinese, so I went with it and then I put my friends on the spot and had them paint their names in Chinese on the back, they were really nervous. Afterward i bought them some drinks and some more students met up with us and gave me a pocket mirror with
My new chinese friend Christina My new chinese friend Christina My new chinese friend Christina

Well thats her english name at least
the Chinese flower stitched on the front as a present to give to someone back home (i will be accepted bid’s).

After meeting up with my new friends again today for lunch, we have our last overnight train to Hong Kong for a few days before I leave the group and head to Thailand.

Additional photos below
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Our bike tour guideOur bike tour guide
Our bike tour guide

I got a date with her but kinda stood her up (sorry)

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