Sunrise from the rooftop.
Aka Western backpacker heaven.
Yangshuo is an outdoors enthusiasts dreamworld. It's located 40 km downstream from Guilin where the Yulong joins the Li River. Popular activities include bike riding, rock climbing, river hiking, rafting, cave exploring, and kayaking. Just outside of Yangshuo are countless farming villages all within a half-day's bike ride. The roads are not very well signed so it's pretty common for people to ask the local for directions.
This place was awesome. 3 days just wasn't enough time to enjoy all that Yangshuo had to offer. I wish I could have stayed here longer. In fact, almost everyone I've talked to since has said Yangshuo was the highlight of their trip and that they too wish they could've stayed there longer! Simply put, it's amazing.
The restaurants of Yangshuo feature Chinese and Western styles. I saw Taiwanese noodle shops, pizza places, teahouses, karaoke bars, a German style beer hall, mango drink vendors, countless stalls in the Night Market and even a few rooftop bars open to the public. The town is divided into sections by several creeks. Each section is connected to the next by these tiny, stone footbridges. The town has a TON
of hidden alleyways which makes it a fun place to explore (but an awful place to lose your wallet). I saw lots of foreigners when I was out and about. Many of the locals spoke English. It's a very chill town. Much smaller than Guilin yet similar to Winters, CA I think. Very chill.
My first night in Yangshuo was spent at Monkey Jane's Amazing Rooftop Bar located on the roof of our hostel. The bar was very loosely run. Couches, coffee tables, TV, music, beer pong table, colorful wall decor, and NO hired barstaff. In fact, while walking up the stairs to the bar I saw flyers asking for volunteers to manage the rooftop bar in exchange for dinner, lodging and free beer. Sounds like a sweet gig right? Yangshuo @ MonkeyJane's; the freeloader's paradise.
I was suprised at the number of English speaking guests staying over that night. Many were English teachers who had come to Yangshuo to enjoy their two week break during the Chinese New Years holiday. Most of which were from the UK, teaching English to both children and adults in China. I coughed up some of my Tsingtao when learned that instructors
can earn Y500 ($80) per hour teaching English in China! Aden, from Bristol, said his experience teaching English in Beijing had been easy work. "What a waste of money" he said, "when the class ends, many of these people won't have anybody to practice with. They'll forget it faster than they've learned it". Michael, from Germany, was studying Mandarin at a university in Guilin on a full tuition scholarship. Lots of money is going into teaching the languages of English and Mandarin.
The next day I was suffering. The 49er's lost in the Superbowl and I was feeling ill from the adverse side effects of staying up on the rooftop until 4AM drinking cheap Tsingtao with a German, an Aussie, an Englishman, and the owner of the hostel herself, "Monkey Jane". Thankfully it rained that day so I got to stay in bed for the early half sleeping, and nursing a righteous hangover in a teashop during the later half! It wasn't a waste of a day at all! I Skyped with my parents, wrote 8 postcards, and chatted with a pretty Chinese girl, "Emily", the teashop owner's eldest daughter back from Shanghai on holiday. The day was indeed
The weather was fair the next day so Elgin and I rented bikes to go ride around Yangshuo (Emily had to stay behind to open the teashop). The roads were really scenic. So scenic that they showed no road signs or mileage markers, just scenery. No, it was great. We spent the morning cycling South along the Li River to Fuli Town using an country road lined by old Banyan trees. The pavement was good so we made great time. We were back in Yangshuo by 1:00PM. In the afternoon we rode North along the Yulong River to the same 600 year old Dragon Bridge we had visited two days before. This time we followed these narrow, winding backroads and single track dirt pathways through towns and country. We passed through these lush orange tree and apple tree orchards and at one spot the roads ended and we were forced to cross the Yulong via another bamboo raft, bikes and all! Our raft was so overloaded that water came up through the bamboo planks.
After we got back to Yangshuo, Elgin and I had the biggest meal of our trip. Piju yu
(beer fish), yellow curry rice,
shrimp/egg quiche, and hei zhima hu
(sweet, black sesame gelatin) with mango for dessert. After dinner, I went and got a haircut from a Chinese haircutter. It was CHEAP! And they did a good job. Tomorrow we leave Yangshuo to visit Longsheng.
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