Drifting, boats & Tsing Tao in the sun
A brilliant reason to love the chinese: after just three weeks of teaching we were given a week long holiday for the mid autumn moon festival. thumb=http://photos.travellerspoint.com/506178/thumb_DSCF0750.jpg] So as i was desperate to get some travelling in China under my belt i went, along with 9 other english teachers, to the beautiful town of Yangshuo for a week of rafting, swimming, mud wallowing, cave exploring, bicycling, light shows, drifting, drinking, partying and visiting Chinese hospitals.
I'll talk about the hospital part later but suffice to say my clumsiness caught up with me, I got 7 stitches and contributed a decent amount of my blood to the Li river and floor of my hostel lobby.
Yangshuo is a town near Guilin which is located is part of the Guangxi province, in the 80's Yangshuo became a major draw for backpackers and since then its stunning scenery as well as many tourist excursions and activities have made it a hotspot for domestic and international visitors.
The first thing that hit me about Yangshuo was the incredible surroundings, the area is frankly stunning. Unlike any area i have seen before Yangshuo has hundreds of mountains rising bizaarely and making the landscape incredible. I can't even get close to communicating the otherworldly beauty of the area and the breathtaking presence of the hulking great rock formations. I think any words i try and use can't manage to get across the awesomeness and end up sounding cliche and overused. All I can say is that everyone should see Yangshuo, seriously though, go buy a ticket, like now.
We stayed in Showbiz Inn on West street, a hostel that I would very highly reccomend to anyone travelling to Yangshuo, the hostel is incredibly cheap, clean and central with really lovely and helpful staff. Vivian, Micheal and Fen were incredibly friendly and made an effort to make sure visitors to the hostel were happy and looked after. The view really speaks for itself and the rooftop bar served strong drinks on the cheap with happy hour on constantly for those staying at the hotel, hard to complain.
So after the hellish 14 hour train journey to Guilin and our hour and a half long bus we finally found ourselves in Yangshuo, sat on the roof of the hostel at 11am, taking in the view and supping down cold bottles of Tsing tao, perfection.
After what I would like to say was a sensible early night we were up early for our bamboo raft cruise along the Li river. While this considered a big draw when visiting Yangshuo I have to say that while the scenery was beautiful the multitude of noisy motor boats bedecked with passengers sporting fluorescent orange life jackets wasn't the calming cruise i had envisioned.
It was the national holiday while we were visiting though so some of the hecticness can be attrbuted to that but overall I was relatively underwhelmed by the river cruise, which at 100kwai was a also a little pricey.
Far better in my opinion was the drifting at nine horses. For just 100kwai we were taken into the mountains, on what was actually a really scenic car ride and dropped off at a drifting centre.
For not the last time on this trip, we paraded round in swimwear while the Chinese tourists look confused and giggled at us. If being stared and talked about constantly wasn't bad enough, it happening when you aren't dressed is ten times worse. It felt like one of the dreams I used to have that i was in Meadowhall naked and no one would sell me any clothes.
The Chinese tourists though looked a lot more ridiculous by the end of the drifting, where their leather trousers were sodden and water seeped out of the toes of their high heels, thats right heels, because it seems that wading through river water to get to a small rubber boat that will be hurtling down white water is an appropriate time for heels, i was pretty happy with my knock off flip flops.