Eating Our Way Through KL

The residence of KL are a mixed bag of ethnically different people. There are large populations of people from India, China (mostly Cantonese), and of course the native Malaysians. Even though there are different backgrounds represented, they all share one thing in common: an incredible respect and kindness for others. Not only is it an inspiring setting for world peace, but it is a foodie’s dream come true.

Did food somehow change when I wasn’t looking? I seem to be living in a world where food can no longer be bad. Spicy food is suddenly delicious instead of painful and burn-y. Foreign spices that once would have me wrinkling up my nose have a new savor to them. Am I losing my sense of taste? Or have I just been lucky enough to eat only amazing food on this journey? I’m guessing the latter, but the odds just seem so high against it that I’m starting to wonder if I’ve been transported to an alternate, more delicious dimension.

That’s right. Food in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is just as amazing as China. The flavor profile is entirely different, but everything I have put in my mouth has been one of the best things I have ever eaten. The only downside is that we’ve started a new diet, so we aren’t getting nearly as much of this deliciousness as we want!

The residents of KL are a mixed bag of ethnically different people. There are large populations of people from India, China (mostly Cantonese), and of course the native Malaysians. Even though there are different backgrounds represented, they all share one thing in common: an incredible respect and kindness for others. Not only is it an inspiring setting for world peace, but it is a foodie’s dream come true. This is just a taste of the amazing things we’ve eaten and places we’ve been.

Curry House

One of the more popular types of restaurants in KL are the Curry Houses. They seem to be everywhere, even right next door to our hotel. There are always groups of people sitting outside with tasty looking food, and others waiting in line inside, so we had to give it a try. We hopped in the line and watched everyone else order. Everything looked good, so I wasn’t too worried about trying to communicate exactly what I wanted. When it was my turn, I simply pointed to someone else’s dish and said I wanted that. I ended up with fried rice with a whole boiled egg in it, slow-cooked chicken, and a cucumber salad. It was buttery, juicy, and oh so good.

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The curry chicken is served on the bone. We used our utensils to eat it, but almost everyone just grabs the saucy mess with their hands.

Once we got our food, we grabbed some sodas from a vendor further inside the restaurant and sat down. A waiter came by and made sure we were comfortable, then pulled out his tablet (which seemed very out of place), totaled us up, and handed us a numbered card. After eating, we took our card up to the register near the front and were charged 17RM/$4.35 for our meal.

Little India

One of my favorite dining adventures so far was our trip to Little India in the Brickfields District. There were plenty of authentic restaurants to choose from, so we went with the first one we saw that looked easy to navigate (not all restaurants have menus or an obvious starting point). I got rice and fried chicken with a spicy sauce.

In several of the restaurants we have been to, we have seen scattered groups of people eating with their hands. At this restaurant nearly everyone was eating with their hands. Even the well-dressed young man sitting next to us in his pressed, purple button up and silk tie. So, we washed up and went for it. I had never considered how difficult it would be to eat rice with my hands. It was quite the challenge. If you’re feeling brave and not too self-conscious, I suggest you give it a try (at home, alone, where no one else will see you with sauce all over your face and fingers).

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I am very focused on getting the rice into my mouth without spilling it all over my lap.

New Meat: Sting Ray

To my lovely vegan, vegetarian, and meat-sensitive friends, please stop reading. Everyone has a weakness… this is mine.

Those of you that know me well will know that I set a goal for myself as a child to try as many different meats as possible. I’ve had the pleasure of trying all sorts of exotic meats like bear, snake, alligator, kangaroo, scorpions, worms, pigeons, shark, and even the Chinese delicacy that must not be named. But I have a new addition to add to my list: sting ray. Check out the video of this experience below:

We’ve only been here for a week, and already we are overwhelmed by the sheer number of food options available. We’ve had some amazing Chinese and Indian food already, and have picked out some Thai, Vietnamese, Moroccan, and other great looking restaurants and roadside stands. I can’t wait to try them all!

Eating All of the Things – Yangshuo

Our adventure with food continues. We love to eat, and there is plenty of food to love here in China.

For breakfast, Josh collects two buns from our favorite steamer place down the road. The man that works at the shop is very enthusiastic to have some new foreign friends and has some of the best tasting buns we have ever had. Josh bags them up and brings them back to the hostel, where I meet him down in the common area with one cup of Americano coffee to split and our thermoses refilled with fresh hot water. Breakfast is small, but filling, and only costs $2 (the one cup of coffee eats up $1.60 of the cost of breakfast).

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We ate at the shop once, but the tiny table and stools that are common at shop fronts in China are just way too small for our big American bodies. Also, the bowl is full of the best soy milk we have ever had. Perfect temperature, texture, and sweetness. Yum!

Our favorite stop for lunch is a place we call “The Good Build Your Own”. At the front of the shop, there is a case of fresh vegetables and meats. We are given a bowl and some tongs, then left to our leisure. We fill our bowl with the ingredients we want, then hand it off to the cook, who asks us whether we want rice or noodles. There are four identical restaurants of this style all on the same block, but there is one in particular that always serves us a larger portion than the others, hence the word “Good” in the title. Depending on the amount of meat you put in the bowl, the price will vary between $2.30 and $2.60.

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This is a $2.30 bowl with rice. It has broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, and bacon.
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This is a $2.60 bowl because it includes pork AND and egg. It also has noodles, snap peas, carrots, and mushrooms.

For dinner, we usually enjoy a more traditional sit-down restaurant. We named our favorite place “Paper Lantern” because of the restaurant’s choice of lighting decorations. We haven’t ordered the same thing twice because everything has been delicious. My favorite has been the sweet and sour eggplant, but Josh’s favorite was the beef and potatoes. With one or two dishes and a big bowl of rice, we are usually charged about $6 for dinner.

At the sit-down restaurants in South China, it is common to wash your dishes before you eat. Most of the time, the dishes have already been professionally washed, packed, and sealed in wrap, but the tradition lives on.

Yesterday, we made a friend down in the common room and invited him out to join us for Yangshuo’s most popular dish, Beer Fish. We had a great time chatting with someone new and enjoyed a good meal with good company. The fish was delicious, but nothing to write home about (although I guess that is exactly what I am doing!). It came in a large, hot dish with a candle underneath to keep it warm. The tomatoes made it a little saucy and gave it an almost Spanish flavor.

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It didn’t taste anything like beer. We think it was a grilled carp, cut in half then served in the dish with oil, tomatoes, beef stock(?), garlic, bamboo shoots, and chives.

 

We only have a few days left in Yangshuo and I know I will miss all my favorite stops. But the only thing better than the food I like, is more food I like. Can’t wait to see what our next stop tastes like!

Bike Ride – Yangshuo’s Ten Mile Gallery

The sun finally came out and we have been trying to cram in as much fun as possible while we still have it. One of the first things on my to-do list was a bicycle along the portion of the ten mile gallery that we missed during our last excursion. This loop portion splits off at the bridge and follows the river instead of the valley.

The sun finally came out and we have been trying to cram in as much fun as possible while we still have it. One of the first things on my to-do list was to cycle along the portion of the Ten Mile Gallery that we missed during our last excursion, which took us through a little valley. This time, instead of crossing the river into the valley, we turned at the bridge and followed the river.

We rented bikes from our hostel for $0.75 each. My bike was missing front brakes and was stuck in high gear. Josh’s was stuck in low gear and had a persistent squeak if he touched the back brakes. But overall, I was quite happy with the bikes and enjoyed a comfortable ride.

Our first adventure was to get to the Gallery’s gate, where traffic becomes limited. This requires a 15 minute journey through the busy streets of our small town. I took the lead. The key seems to be: ride like you aren’t scared to death and just go with the flow.

Once through the gate, it was smooth sailing, with only a few cars, scooters, or cyclists along the way. Rather than an “out and back” like last time, our route took us off on a small street that runs along the river, eventually looping back into town. The wind and rain from the day before pushed out most of the pollution, and the sun finally made an appearance, so the day was beautiful! The colors were vibrant and clear. The majority of the road was very scenic, winding between the mountains and rivers, but there were also large sections of farmland dotted with small villages that were super cute. Everything about it was amazing! Best Day Ever!

Yangshuo, China karst mountains behind bike on road

Each place had a small collection of people going about their business. Some would shout at us to stop and check their menus, some were doing laundry in the farm canals, kids were playing with dogs, and men were washing their cars using buckets of water and rags.

[Tangent Alert] I’ve noticed a real lack of hoses in China. For example, there is a farm outside of my window at the hostel. Since I am a horrible snoop, I spend much of my morning watching the neighbor woman attend the farm. It is the same routine each day. She walks through her fields, bends over every so often to either collect something or discard something, then fills a bucket with water from the central well. The bucket has a rope attached that she wears across her chest. She lumbers from one patch of green to the next and ladles out water to the plants using a large soup ladle. It takes her nearly all day to get through her small patch of land. I am sure she isn’t a representation of all farmers here, but it struck my curiosity and really made me consider the farming fields surrounding the path we were riding on. There were well-planned canals webbed throughout the fields, but I didn’t see any sprinklers or tractors. Do they all water the fields by hand?

Farm and karst mountains with bike on road in Yangshuo China

Of course, my favorite part was the mountains! I have been looking at these strangely shaped pimples on the earth for a month now and I am still mesmerized by nearly every one. My camera is full of pictures of this mountain, and that mountain, and the one next to it. I think Josh is over the glamour (or maybe never had it to begin with), but I am still in love and have found my bliss.

riding bicycle bike in Yangshu China at 10 Mile Gallery. Karst mountain and farm

Although the ride took a few hours due to my constant need for pictures, the trip was only a little over three miles and dropped us off on the other end of town. The plan was to have lunch at a popular expat pub on the way, but it looked like they were closed for the season (seems to be the case at many places). So, we followed our noses and found a block of Chinese fast food restaurants.

We enjoyed some beef and potatoes, green beans with sausage and chilies, egg-wrapped pork meatballs, a giant bowl of noodle soup, and two bowls of rice. All this for only $2! We left stuffed and happy.

Somehow, we were able to drag our full, tired bodies back home, and finished off the afternoon with a nap. What a day!

 

Our First Scooter Adventure – Moon Hill

We rented an electric scooter, braved the Chinese traffic, and set out for a hike up Moon Hill near Yangshuo.

One of the more interesting things we’ve seen since arriving in China is the swarms of electric scooters buzzing about on the roads. I’ve been wanting to try one out for a while now, but Josh has been a bit nervous about driving in the insane traffic (the only rule seems to be “don’t hit anyone else”). Our hostel in Yangshuo rents electric scooters for ¥50 (~$8) per day, so on one particularly warm morning I finally convinced Josh drive me around to see the sights.

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I had a nice, comfortable ride on the back.

Our destination was a stretch of road known as the Ten Mile Gallery. I have no idea why it’s called that, but it seems to be a generic name for these sort of scenic drives. This one was nowhere near ten miles long, but it was certainly scenic, with ornate Chinese-style gates at each entrance and beautiful scenery throughout. There are also many little places where you can pull over and explore a bit. I sat on the back and took pictures while Josh piloted us around.

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View from a bridge we crossed

There’s limited access for cars and trucks on this road, so we had very little traffic to contend with once we got through the gate. Electric scooters are considered bicycles here, so we simply rode through the gate without stopping. We scooted down the road next to tandem bikes, walkers, and other scooters. The ride was easy and the view was out of this world. We stopped at only one of the side excursions on this trip (there will be more), a nice hike up to Moon Hill.

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Moon Hill from the street

We paid our fare of ¥14 ($2) each to get in, then parked our little scooter inside the gate. We were immediately accosted by women trying to sell us overpriced drinks, but they were very friendly and did eventually let us go our own way.

The hike was broken up into three marked trails: Moon Palace, Moon Pagoda, and the strangely named Dresser. We started up the Pagoda trail and was shouted at by our new soda-hawking friends at the bottom to take the Palace trail instead. As per usual in China, the trail was less of a dirt path and more of an ongoing set of stone stairs, swept clean of any leaves or debris.

Halfway up, we decided to veer off and take the Dresser trail. At least, we think that’s the trail we took; there were two signs at the fork, one saying “Dresser”, and one saying “Vanity”. Regardless of the name, it looked like a fairly easy climb (fewer stairs), and headed toward a nearby rise that looked like it would give a view of the Moon Hill arch. It was a short climb, and at the top, we were indeed treated to a nice view of the arch.

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Moon Hill from Dresser Trail

After our short detour, we turned around and continued up the Palace trail. The stairs became narrow and uneven as we neared the top, and the angle was quite steep, turning our comfortable walk into a strenuous climb. But, right when I thought I wasn’t going to make it, we arrived. We turned a corner and, BAM, we were under the arch.

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View from under Moon Hill

It was much larger than I expected. There were stalactites hanging from the top, dripping onto our heads, and looking ready to tumble at any moment. The arch itself was quite lovely, but the view of the surrounding valley and neighboring mountains was even better.

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View of the surroundings from under Moon Hill’s arch

Aided by gravity, the climb down was much easier than the climb up. We bartered for a coke at the bottom, bringing the ladies down to ¥5 from their requested ¥10 (our hostel sells them for ¥3, but we were pretty thirsty). We bundled ourselves up, enjoyed our delicious soda, and headed back to town. We got there just in time, too, because it started to rain just before we arrived.

I had so much fun riding on the back of the scooter, feeling free and adventurous. The Ten Mile Gallery has a lot of other fun side trips and scenery to offer, and I can’t wait until the sun comes back out so we can go on another scooting adventure!

 

 

 

 

Adventures With Jen – Guilin

Not every adventure can be epic, so here is a montage of some of my less than totally awesome Adventures With Jen.

After breakfast, the routine is for me to take a shower, then either spend some time doing research or hit the street for an adventure. Besides for the Fubo Mountain hike, most of my adventures haven’t been blog worthy. Not every adventure can be epic, so here is a montage of some of my less-than-totally-awesome Adventures With Jen:

One adventure I was particularly excited about was the Bird and Flower Market, located a little ways Northeast from where we are staying. Unfortunately, when I arrived, I found there was nothing particularly special about it. It was more of a collection of plant and pet shops. As with any pet shop, some were nice and I could tell the animals were loved and well taken care of. Others (most) were quite difficult to see, with cages packed to the brim with birds or tanks so full of fish that they were constantly getting flicked out by other fish.

The most noteworthy part of the walk happened while I passed a middle eastern food truck. I, of course, walked by just as the stall worker decided to kill a large sheep right in the middle of the sidewalk. I have a good appreciation and understanding of how my food is made, but I’m not sure if I will ever get used to seeing the moment of passing right before my eyes. Not the best way to end an adventure.

I caught Josh’s cold the following morning and was pretty well bedridden. I still got up for meals, though, and went for short walks through some side streets near the hotel to get some air. I particularly enjoyed one walk where we stumbled across the wholesale food market.

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I love looking at all of the interesting fruits and vegetables, the dried herbs, and the variety of meats. As someone who has had a food handler’s card for the last 20 years, I also find the food safety to be quite… interesting. Meats are stored on the same table as vegetables, and fruit baskets may or may not be stored directly on the ground. It is a nice reminder of just how resilient to germs the human body can be.

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The variety of fresh meat is so interesting to look at.

After a couple of days, I was feeling better and back on the road. I spent most of my time researching and filming a walking tour (get excited), but I did take a break to hit another new stop: The Botanical Garden.

Guilin’s Botanical Garden is located at the South end of town and costs ¥32, but apparently that only applies to me. I watched everyone else just walk through the gate. They didn’t flash a pass to the guard or anything, they simply walked in like it was no big thing. I, of course, got stopped and was forced to pay. This is one of the few times being a foreigner in China didn’t pay off.

As a garden, I would say the place was pretty “meh”. It did make for a decent park, though. It was quite large and had quiet little hide-outs all over the place for people to be loud in… yes, that is what I meant to say. Everywhere I went, there was a little courtyard or hidden picnic bench with someone either practicing the trumpet, singing into a microphone (with the speaker turned on full blast, of course), dancing to loud music, or jamming with their friends. I do have to admit, it was the perfect place to find a quiet spot and fill it with noise.

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The “European Garden” was much quieter and filled mostly with exercisers.

I would guess the place is quite nice and full of flowers in the summer time, but in the middle of January, it mostly just looked like bushes to me. I did enjoy the long walk through the park, and managed to get in some people watching and bird spotting.

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A lone Koi fish heading upstream to visit a child throwing crackers.

 

My favorite thing to do in Guilin was to walk along the rivers. I walked at least four miles per day while we were there, and most days it was done along one of the many rivers or lakes. Where the rivers run through the city, there are beautifully decorated water-side paths. I really enjoyed checking out the variety of bridges, the excitement of the tourists (mostly from other cities around China), and watching the occasional fisherman. If it wasn’t for the air pollution, I would guess these river walks would make amazing river runs.

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Also, have I mentioned we’re famous? There are still many Chinese people who have either never seen or met a foreigner. We are still a pretty rare sight outside of Shanghai and Beijing. We get a lot of stares and children shouting “Look, foreigners!” On some rare occasions, we even get asked for pictures… which usually leads to more people asking for pictures… which turns into a full-on paparazzi moment. It is a little weird, but kind of fun.

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So there you have it, my less than successful but still noteworthy adventures in Guilin! I really enjoyed it there and feel so lucky to have had the chance to live somewhere so beautiful and full of adventure. Stay tuned for the next installment of Adventures with Jen!

The Journey of a Lifetime: Li River Cruise Part Three

The final installment of my journey of a lifetime along the Li River.

I apologize for keeping you all waiting. I know how you feel. After years of dreaming, weeks of planning, and hours of being shuffled around, I was dying to get on this Li River cruise! In the last installment, we were nine hours in to our six hour Li River Cruise. Finally, we were loading onto the boat, given the cryptic instructions, “You, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.”

Catch up on Part One or Part Two ♥

4:30PM The Li River Cruise

We piled into the boat and found that the only remaining seats available were numbered one through six. Ahhh… we are seats “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6”. That made a lot more sense. We took a seat facing the Germans around a small square table. Contrary to what we had been promised, the tables were not covered by lovely white tablecloths, nor were the picture windows very large. No, the windows and the tables can be described using the same adjectives: small, dirty, a little sticky. So, par for the course, really.

I was not going to let my travel agent’s broken promises bring me down. I saw those mountains from afar and I knew I was finally having the moment I had been dreaming of for all of these years. So I held my head high, remained patient, and waited for our Li River Cruise to begin.

I remained patient while the hostess requested that we stay in our seats for 30 minutes. I was patient when the lovely scenery was passing me by in a blur of days old spit and condensation. I was patient when we stopped the boat after only five minutes of sailing so that we could all cram to the front of the boat and stand in line while every single passenger got their picture taken with the staged fishermen and the power line-littered scenery.

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The best shot I could get… with strangers in the photo, a boat with a beggar on it asking for money, another boat making the same stop, and a guy smoking a cigarette. Cool cormorants, though.

5:00PM – Waiting Is

The scenery continued to blur by while the other passengers ate or played on their phones. The hostess stood up front and showed us the various picture opportunities we were going to have and how much she would happily charge us for said pictures.

Josh was not very happy with me, but I forced him to ask the hostess again if we could go outside. My patience was at an end, and I was ready to throw a bitch overboard if I didn’t get my amazing pictures!

5:15PM – The Adventure of a Lifetime

And then it happened. The doors opened and everyone rushed outside to view the scenery we had been dying to see. I got elbowed in the face as I walked up the stairs, but I had no time for pain. This was my moment.

I stepped onto the roof of the boat with everyone else and felt the floor buckle. No shits were given. I would see this view if it meant I had to do it with my butt in the river. This was my moment!

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And so I took a million and one pictures of the beautiful scenery with a foreground full of heads. Everyone was excited and pushing to get the best views. A child ran around throughout the entire boat ride playing with a wooden slide whistle. But I didn’t care. This was my adventure of a lifetime and I was going to make the most of it.

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When life gives you lemons, make jokes.

Shortly after being allowed to go outside, the boat turned around and headed back upstream. There was another meal call and most of the Chinese tourists went back downstairs to demolish their snacks. This left me wondering where we were going, but also with a view nearly all to myself. This was my moment, and it was worth the wait.

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When we can see the air, we wear masks.

The view from my Li River cruise was everything I dreamed it would be, with hills layered for miles and foreign looking bamboo forests peeking around the stone cliffs. It truly was amazing.

7:00PM – Trip to Yangshuo

This chapter was supposed to be about our stop in adorable Xingping. Nope! Once again, our expectations were thrown aside. We never ended up going to Yangdi. The bus dropped us off in crummy-old Xingping and our boat cruise took us on an extremely slow, 90 minute round-trip ride. At least that meant I didn’t lose my backpack.

The tour guide asked if we were going to be riding the bus out of Xingping. I told him that we were and expected to be dropped off in Yangshuo. He nodded his impatient nod and let us back on the bus. The ride to Yangshuo was pretty quick and pleasant. All of the Chinese tourists were in a great mood, singing songs and munching on their purchased snacks. I enjoyed the music and the time to review my photos.

We made a couple of stops at who knows where to drop various people off. Finally, as the bus was about to leave from one of the stops, our tour guide jumped up in excitement and yelled for us to get off the bus. “Yangshuo! Yangshuo! You go Yangshuo! Here!” We got off at a gas station on the far end of town.

I had done quite a bit of research about the best way to get to the hotel from the bus station (where I was told we would be dropped off) so we, once again, put on our smiles and just hoped for the best. Thankfully, it paid off.

8:00PM – Our Six Hour Tour Finally Ends

After walking only a couple of blocks in the general direction of the hotel, a taxi pulled up and offered us a ride. And by taxi, I mean a modified motorcycle with a makeshift trailer attached that was covered with plastic. The price was fair and our bags were really starting to feel heavy. We crushed ourselves into the back of the tiny trailer and were whisked away on a bumpy ride through the city. Josh and I both agreed it was the most adventurous and most fun thing we have done in a while. Despite my love for those mountains, the taxi ride was my favorite part of the whole day.

We made it to the hotel in excellent time and with only a few bumps and bruises for our trouble. The hotel is wonderful and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Check out our review of the Sudder Street Guesthouse in Yangshuo ♥

After 13 hours, we were pretty tired of our six hour Li River Cruise adventure. It was a long and difficult day. I would still recommend the trip to anyone who has a tolerance for China-Life, but would recommend booking only when you know exactly what you are going to get. Be patient and remember to have fun along the way, no matter what. I may not have gotten the “view of a lifetime” I was hoping for, but it was definitely an adventure I will never forget, a true Journey of a Lifetime.


 

The Journey of a Lifetime – Part 3

The final installment of my journey of a lifetime along the Li River.

I apologize for keeping you all waiting. I know how you feel. After years of dreaming, weeks of planning, and hours of being shuffled around, I was dying to get on this cruise! And in the last installment, we were finally loading onto the boat, given the cryptic instructions, “You, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.”

The Ride of a Lifetime

We piled into the boat and found that the only remaining seats available were numbered one through six. Ahhh… we are seats “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6”. That made a lot more sense. We took a seat facing the Germans around a small square table. Contrary to what we had been promised, the tables were not covered by lovely white tablecloths, nor were the picture windows very large. No, the windows and the tables can be described using the same adjectives: small, dirty, a little sticky. So, par for the course, really.

I was not going to let my travel agent’s broken promises bring me down. I saw those mountains from afar and I knew I was finally having the moment I had been dreaming of for all of these years. So I held my head high, remained patient, and waited for the cruise to begin.

I remained patient while the hostess requested that we stay in our seats for 30 minutes. I was patient when the lovely scenery was passing me by in a blur of days old spit and condensation. I was patient when we stopped the boat after only five minutes of sailing so that we could all cram to the front of the boat and stand in line while every single passenger got their picture taken with the staged fishermen and the power line-littered scenery.

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The best shot I could get… with strangers in the photo, a boat with a beggar on it asking for money, another boat making the same stop, and a guy smoking a cigarette. Cool cormorants, though.

Waiting Is

The scenery continued to blur by while the other passengers ate or played on their phones. The hostess stood up front and showed us the various picture opportunities we were going to have and how much she would happily charge us for said pictures.

Josh was not very happy with me, but I forced him to ask the hostess again if we could go outside. My patience was at an end, and I was ready to throw a bitch overboard if I didn’t get my amazing pictures!

The Adventure of a Lifetime

And then it happened. The doors opened and everyone rushed outside to view the scenery we had been dying to see. I got elbowed in the face as I walked up the stairs, but I had no time for pain. This was my moment.

I stepped onto the roof of the boat with everyone else and felt the floor buckle. No shits were given. I would see this view if it meant I had to do it with my butt in the river. This was my moment!

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And so I took a million and one pictures of the beautiful scenery with a foreground full of heads. Everyone was excited and pushing to get the best views. A child ran around throughout the entire boat ride playing with a wooden slide whistle. But I didn’t care. This was my adventure of a lifetime and I was going to make the most of it.

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When life gives you lemons, make jokes.

Shortly after being allowed to go outside, the boat turned around and headed back upstream. There was another meal call and most of the Chinese tourists went back downstairs to demolish their snacks. This left me wondering where we were going, but also with a view nearly all to myself. This was my moment, and it was worth the wait.

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When we can see the air, we wear masks.

It was everything I dreamed it would be, with hills layered for miles and foreign looking bamboo forests peeking around the stone cliffs. It truly was amazing.

Trip to Yangshuo

This chapter was supposed to be about our stop in adorable Xingping. Nope! Once again, our expectations were thrown aside. We never ended up going to Yangdi. The bus dropped us off in crummy-old Xingping and our boat cruise took us on an extremely slow, 90 minute round-trip ride. At least that meant I didn’t lose my backpack.

The tour guide asked if we were going to be riding the bus out of Xingping. I told him that we were and expected to be dropped off in Yangshuo. He nodded his impatient nod and let us back on the bus. The ride to Yangshuo was pretty quick and pleasant. All of the Chinese tourists were in a great mood, singing songs and munching on their purchased snacks. I enjoyed the music and the time to review my photos.

We made a couple of stops at who knows where. Finally, as the bus was about to leave from one of the stops, our tour guide jumped up in excitement and yelled for us to get off the bus. “Yangshuo! Yangshuo! You go Yangshuo! Here!” We got off at a gas station on the far end of town.

I had done quite a bit of research about the best way to get to the hotel from the bus station (where I was told we would be dropped off), so we once again put on our smiles and just hoped for the best. Thankfully, it paid off.

After walking only a couple of blocks in the general direction of the hotel, a taxi pulled up and offered us a ride. And by taxi, I mean a modified motorcycle with a makeshift trailer attached that was covered with plastic. The price was fair and our bags were really starting to feel heavy. We crushed ourselves into the back of the tiny trailer and were whisked away on a bumpy ride through the city. Josh and I both agreed it was the most adventurous and most fun thing we have done in a while. Despite my love for those mountains, the taxi ride was my favorite part of the whole day.

Final Wrap Up

We made it to the hotel in excellent time and with only a few bumps and bruises for our trouble. The hotel is wonderful and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

It was a long and difficult day. I would still recommend the trip to anyone who has a tolerance for China-Life, but would recommend booking only when you know exactly what you are going to get. Be patient and remember to have fun along the way, no matter what. I may not have gotten the “view of a lifetime” I was hoping for, but it was definitely an adventure I will never forget, a true Journey of a Lifetime.