Beautiful, beautiful... simply beautiful
20.01.2010 - 22.01.2010 0 °C
To our relief , after waiting anxiously in the hotel lobby at 7 in the morning , we were picked up from our hotel.
As soon as we boarded the bus the driver received a call from Mike to make sure we were there. The transfer to the boat port was supposed to be 1 hour. Of course, as this was still Asia - no trip anywhere would be complete without a million and one stops at the rest stops along the way - the locals seem to need to go to the toilet every few minutes!
It took us nearly 3 hours to get to the port where the guide who led us to the boat received another call from Mike to make sure we had boarded the right boat.
The weather had gotten colder and it had turned out to be a very foggy morning. We had our fingers crossed that this longer trip by boat (longer than the direct bus) was going to be worth the money we had paid and that we would get to see at least some of the supposedly amazing scenery along the way.
For the next few hours we joined a boat load of Chinese tourists along one of the most scenic places we had ever seen. The Li River is surrounded by huge karst limestone mountains and even in the cold fog the place was beautiful.
Of course we didn’t understand a word of what the tour boat guides were saying and of course we spent most of our time on the boat getting stared at by the Chinese …but the cruise turned out to be pretty good.
Lunch was provided and we couldn’t pass up a chance to try some freshly cooked beer snacks - hot spicy snails and some small deep fried crabs (both which were amazing and went down a treat with the local beer that was served).
It was amazing to see the locals wade upto to the boat in their rafts and then try to sell fruit, vegetables and even fake jade statues through the windows of our moving boat.
It was also surreal when we looked down from the top of the boat and realised that in some places we were floating in water which was no more than 10 inches deep.
After 4 hours cruising down the Li River we arrived into Xingping. Due to the low tide the boat could not go any further. We didn’t know this at the time and we alighted from the boat assuming that we were in Yangshuo. We decided our best bet was to ‘just follow the crowd’.
As we were getting off we braced ourselves as we were faced with a mass of people trying to sell postcards, scarfs, hats, keyrings - you name it…anything that a tourist needs! As we fought our way through the crowds and shouting - we heard someone shouting ‘hey hey’… it was MIKE!!!!
We had never been so happy to see anyone more than at that moment.
He led us through the crowd and explained that the tide was very low and we would now have to get on a bus to Yangshuo. We did as he said and followed him to the bus stop. As we walked along - sticking out like crazy with our backpacks and brown skin… we were constantly stopped by locals and other Chinese tourists… all who stopped, stared and then shouted HELLO…
Xingping was an amazingly beautiful place - the small part that we saw was exactly how we would picture small villages near Tibet to be (well from what we’d seen on tv!).
We boarded our bus with Mike and the other locals and spent the next hour staring out of the windows at the scenery which had got so much more dramatic.
Before long we were in Yangshuo and Mike was leading us away from the bus station. We had agreed to see a hotel which his company worked with and after seeing the room booked it for 2 nights.
We couldn’t believe that Mike had looked after us all this time and had even come to Yangshuo to ensure that we got there ok. Soon we were saying our goodbyes and we had checked in.
OMG! Yangshuo is one of the most beautiful places we have seen on this whole trip.
It was like a ‘zoomed in’ version of Guilin where all the mountains were bigger and closer - it was like the whole town was built up on a mountain ledge. Our pictures don’t do it any justice!
We spent our time in Yangshuo wondering around the beautiful town which was so quiet and serene. It was low season for tourists and so it was so nice to just wonder without the crowds and hassle. Everything in Yangshuo is made for tourists (most probably the Chinese type) and so it was just somewhere to walk around and slow down.
We wondered around for the most part and found we were often stopped in the street by young kids who wanted to practice their English for their homework. We spent some time by the river where again we got talking to a local man who just wanted to talk about anything and everything in English. We ended up learning a lot about the Chinese culture and the history from this very nice man who was ‘just passing’.
We went to see the famous Impression Liu San Jie night show. This was performed in part of the opening ceremony for the Olymics last year. It involved over 600 local performers most of whom were local fishermen and school children. It was an amazing show set right on the river and among the mountains… and like one of our fellow tourists said…‘only the Chinese could do something this big on this scale’.
At the show we met another English backpacker from London who we got talking to and after long we had decided to go out for a few drinks after the show. We went back to town and spent the next few hours drinking lots of cheap Chinese beer and getting to know him and a couple of girls he had met on his boat from Guilin who were from Denmark.
After getting very tipsy we decided to call it a night and said our goodbyes - its weird… there are hardly any tourists in China and so when we see some we are all instantly drawn towards each other. This was so good as it got us talking to everyone and we got to meet so many people this way.
We spent a couple of days loving incredible Yangshuo and decided, reluctantly, that we should move on as it is nearly Christmas!!!
We are sitting in an internet cafe at the moment trying to pass the time until we board our night bus to Shenzhen (11hrs) where we will then continue onto Hong Kong. We decided it was time to treat ourselves and so for Christmas we've booked ourselves into a very plush hotel with all the creature comforts.
We are excited but the excitement is slightly blurred due to the passive smoking - everyone in China seems to smoke - young, old, men and women! The whole internet cafe is one big smoke cloud! Apparently if you don’t smoke - it's seen as odd!
We were also looking forward to our night bus. However, we've been warned - the Chinese also smoke on the public transport AND the sleeper seats might be a little bit tight!
Never mind... we can‘t wait.…its nearly Christmas, we’re armed with tinsel (made in China of course) and this time tomorrow we will be in HONG KONG!!!!