Sudder Street Guesthouse – Yangshuo

We loved our hostel in Yangshuo so much that we decided to cancel our trip to Kunming so that we can spend more time here.

The plan was to stay in Yangshuo for only a few days, then move on to to Kunming to get into some warmer weather. But after spending a single night in this hostel, we knew we didn’t want to leave. This place is heavenly.

A Chinese and Japanese couple own Sudder Street Guesthouse and named it after the place they met and fell in love. It is located a little North of Yangshuo on a quiet street surrounded by fields and local neighborhood. It looks like the road is getting rebuilt to extend out the Western vibe of the city, but for now, it is quaint and comfortably local.

The first floor common room is large, comfortable, and bright. It includes a front desk where they sell ¥3 ($0.50) beer and ¥10 coffee, a writing and game nook, reading nook with fireplace, dining tables, kitchen, foosball table, great VPN for Western internet, hamster in a fun cage, and a friendly cat.

20180123_091444

One of the other highlights of this hostel is the outdoor area. The whole back wall of the common room is made of picture windows overlooking the sitting area, fire pit, neighboring farm, and the infinity pool. Unfortunately, we’re here in January, and have had a stretch of 37º weather, so we haven’t really had a chance to enjoy it as much as we’d like. But in the summer, I bet it’s the perfect place to relax with a beer and make some new friends.

20180123_091154
The chair is more comfortable than it looks.

And speaking of new friends, this place has been packed with travelers since we arrived,  despite it being the off season. Every evening the couches are full of people warming themselves by the fire and chatting. So far we have been enjoying breakfast with a young woman from Germany who is on holiday from her classes as a Chinese student in Southern China. In the evening, we meet up with her and her friends and compare our daily adventures. Recently, a group of rowdy Australians arrived. They’re a bit loud in the evening, but are really friendly and fun.

Along with the first floor common area, the hostel also has a laundry area that is free to use, providing washing machines, soap, and drying lines. The Chinese washing machines have a tendency to shred my clothes, and the spin cycle leaves them sopping wet, but it gets the job done and has kept us smelling only a little bit like mildew.

20180126_131034
Communal drying area on the deck

Our first week here, we stayed in a six bed, mixed gender dormitory for $6 per night. I slept in a top bunk, Josh in the bunk under me, two Chinese men behind us, and a British man and empty bed across from us. It was pretty comfortable with large cubicles, privacy curtains, and bed lamps. The common bathroom was shared among the entire floor, but it was fairly clean and mostly private.

When our stay was over, we checked out of the dorm and immediately checked in to a private room for another week for $14 per night. The room is wonderful and we are very excited to have our own space again. It is large, has a desk, heater, big window, personal kettle, and a private bathroom with a half-enclosed shower.

We are staying here for at least one more week, if not two. We don’t need to be in Chengdu until mid February, so we are playing it by ear. The weather is supposed to warm up in the next few days, so we’ll be out adventuring again soon, but in the meantime we’re happy to be cuddled up cozy warm in our room at this fantastic hostel.

 

Yangshuo, 阳朔

I love our new town of Yangshuo. It is only 90 minutes away by bus from Guilin, but still a town of its own.

Oh man, I freaking love this town! I feel like I am cheating a little bit because it is so Westernized, but I guess I can’t change who I am. It is located in Guangxi Province and only 90 minutes South of Guilin by bus. We haven’t traveled very far, but it is still quite different from Guilin.

Desktop screenshot

The town is snuggled between karst mountains and rivers. As a whole, the city is very touristy, clean, and quiet (all by Chinese standards, of course). I definitely get the feeling that it is the Aspen of China.

20180123_133002

The main part of the city is squeezed between two major roads with a pedestrian-only area in between. The sidewalks are packed full of cute shops, foreign restaurants, cafes, and tourist side shows similar to what I’ve seen in Vegas (3D rides, ice bars, etc).

We’ve already enjoyed dinner at a Thai restaurant, a lunch at McDonalds, and an amazing dinner at an Indian restaurant. We are hoping to save up some money for an evening at The Brew, a well-known Western restaurant with steaks and burgers, and also a stop at a great-looking German restaurant owned and run by a German expat.

Outside of the main area, it is a little more akin to the rest of China, with small shops, crumpled sidewalks, and honking traffic. We even spotted a fun KFC ripoff.

20180125_082548
KFD, complete with a Chinese Colonel Sanders. Because if your thing ain’t working, steal from someone else!

It looks like we will have no lack of things to do here in Yangshuo. We have plans for places to eat, shops to explore, people to meet, and sights to see. We are still unsure whether we will stay here for two weeks or three, but I like that we have the freedom to decide as it suits us. Until then, I will enjoy every moment in Yangshuo.

 

 

 

 

First Impressions of Yangshuo, China

I love our new town of Yangshuo. It is only 90 minutes away by bus from Guilin, but still a town of its own.

Oh man, I freaking love this town! Yangshuo, China is super cute and quaint, but still fun and exciting. It is fairly westernized compared to many other parts of China, with loud bars and European restaurants. But it isn’t the western comforts that drew us in, it was the natural beauty that surrounds the city.

Location of Yangshuo

Desktop screenshot

Yangshuo, China is in Guangxi Province and only 90 minutes South of Guilin by bus. That means that we haven’t traveled very far, but it is still quite different from Guilin. Th nearest large hubs are Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

Check out our adventures in Guilin. ♥

What makes Yangshuo special is it’s surroundings. It is located within the South China Karst, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Even the flat areas of Yangshuo are lovely, with one side of town edged by the Li River and other areas of town spotted with farmland.

City of Yangshuo

As a whole, the city is very touristy, clean, and quiet (all by Chinese standards, of course). I definitely get the feeling that it is the Aspen of China.

The main part of the city is squeezed between two major roads with a pedestrian-only area in between. The sidewalks are packed full of cute shops, foreign restaurants, cafes, and tourist side shows similar to what I’ve seen in Vegas (3D rides, ice bars, etc).

20180123_133002.jpg

We’ve already enjoyed dinner at a Thai restaurant, a lunch at McDonalds, and an amazing dinner at an Indian restaurant. We are hoping to save up some money for an evening at The Brew, a well-known Western restaurant with steaks and burgers, and also a stop at a great-looking German restaurant owned and run by a German expat.

Read more about the food we enjoyed during our time in Yangshuo. ♥

Outside of the main area, it is a little more akin to the rest of China, with small shops, crumpled sidewalks, and honking traffic. We even spotted a fun KFC ripoff.

20180125_082548
KFD, complete with a Chinese Colonel Sanders. Because if your thing ain’t working, steal from someone else!

It looks like we will have no lack of things to do here in Yangshuo, China. We have plans for places to eat, shops to explore, people to meet, and sights to see. We are still unsure whether we will stay here for two weeks or three, but I like that we have the freedom to decide as it suits us. Until then, I will enjoy every moment in Yangshuo.

 

 

 

 

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.

20180122_154334
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!

20180122_162321

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.

20180122_163313
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.

20180122_16574720180122_16234320180122_16524120180122_170132

20180122_170659
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.

 

 

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.

20180122_154334
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!

20180122_162321

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.

20180122_163313
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.

20180122_162343.jpg

20180122_164805.jpg

20180122_170659
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.


 

Eating the Red Berries

I read somewhere that chimpanzees won’t eat unfamiliar red berries unless they see another chimp do it first. It’s a self-preservation instinct, and it makes sense; some berries are poisonous. But others are not, and can be a plentiful food source, so it’s definitely a risk-reward situation. This also means that if a troop wants to take advantage of that particular food source, one of those chimps has got to step up and try the berries, assuming a personal risk for the good of the group.

I’ve always been risk-averse, and while it’s paid off pretty well, it also means I’ve missed out on a few things in life. And so, in the spirit of our grand adventure, I’m trying to get better at throwing caution to the wind and just jumping in; in other words, I wanna be the chimp who’s brave enough to eat the red berries. It worked out well in Barcelona, where we got to try a bunch of unfamiliar foods that all ended up being delicious. The same was true in Morocco, and for the most part has been true in China, too.

Unfortunately, this behavior is not without consequences.

In a previous post, we talked about our bus ride to Yangshuo, and the tour guide who doubled as a salesman. It seemed very strange to us that this should be a part of our tour, having someone pitch to a captive audience like that. If I could have understood him, I probably would have been a bit more annoyed, but because it was all in Chinese, it was fairly easy to tune him out. We got the gist: he had stuff to buy, and he wanted us to buy it.

Then came time for the free samples. The guy had been rambling on for a fair few minutes about this particular product. It came in a fancy white box, with some nice calligraphy on the side, and a picture of some kind of fruit on the front. He put down the box and started down the aisle with a basket, handing out little samples on the way. We had eaten an early breakfast and hadn’t yet had lunch, so we were ready for snack time. The tour guy got to us, gave us his best salesman smile, and put a small white package in my hand. Without even thinking about it, I ripped it open to see what was inside.

What came out was a weird looking snack, although everything is kinda weird over here, so that was par for the course. It looked like a bunch of roasted pumpkin seeds glued together with a hard, brownish-orange paste. I shrugged, broke it in half, gave a piece to Jen, and popped it in my mouth.

It was bizarre. The pumpkin seeds still had the hulls on them, so they were very hard and fibrous. However, that’s not too out of the ordinary for plant-based snacks here; I thought nothing of it. The paste stuff was tea flavored, which, again, is pretty normal for China. However, this was very powerful, so strong that I could feel my mouth starting to burn from the intensity. They like their spices, but for the most part the flavors here are kind of bland, especially when it comes to sweets, which this kind of was. Jen and I looked at each other, noses wrinkled. It was, all in all, pretty gross, and guaranteed that we would not be buying this particular treat. Who would?

We looked around the bus, wanting to see how it was being received by the other tourists, when we noticed that no one was eating theirs. They’d all just set theirs down or stashed them away in their bags. “Wow,” I thought, “this guy must be a crap salesman. They won’t even eat his free samples.”

Jen had also noticed that no one was eating the treat. “Why is nobody else eating their snack?” she asked. Comprehension slowly dawned as we realized that the thing we’d eaten tasted like concentrated tea resin, because that’s exactly what it was. While everyone else got a packet of fancy tea to try when they got home, we got a strange new treat that we couldn’t resist eating right away. We laughed, realizing our mistake and how ridiculous we must look to the other tourists.

The tour guide brought another free sample, this time two packets, one he described as spicy, and one not spicy. This time, instead of ripping them right open, we decided to investigate a little bit more closely. There was a picture of a nicely cooked fish on the front, and in English the words “Fish scent, lingering eternally”. We poked and squeezed the stuff inside, and decided it must be a fish-flavored soup stock concentrate, another thing to try when you get home. Into the bag they went. We turned back to look out the windows, only to be met with the sight of a bus full of Chinese tourists chowing down on preserved fishy snacks. And yes, the package was correct: fish scent, lingering eternally.

The moral of the story, if there is one, is that the chimps have got a good thing going. If you don’t know if a thing is food, maybe wait a bit and see how the other apes behave. Be patient. Let someone else eat the berries from time to time. Otherwise, you might end up with a mouthful of pumpkin husk slivers and a tea-scalded mouth.

The Journey of a Lifetime – Li River Cruise Part Two

The trip I have been dying to take for years continues.

When we last left off, Josh and I were three hours in to our Li River Cruise Tour. We were blindly following a group of Chinese people wearing matching lanyards through the Dong Village Museum until our meetup time of 12:30. We merged and unmerged with the group multiple times, but everywhere we went, we were able to find someone else with the same color lanyard as we had. This made us feel comfortable, since we couldn’t actually remember which bus the man in the blue jacket said was ours. We planned to just follow the group and see where we ended up.

Catch up with “The Journey of a Lifetime – Li River Cruise Part One ♥

12:30PM – The Big Bus

At the exit of the Dong village was a bucket to recycle the lanyards. The Chinese people we were following, and thought were part of our group, scattered to their various cars and buses, leaving us in the parking lot a little concerned and questioning our next move. Thankfully, one of the members of My Six was wearing a bright orange jacket. We spotted the jacket down the block, met up with her, and got on what we hoped was the correct bus.

We sat down, and were immediately shouted at by the bus driver. I didn’t catch everything he said, but the bit I did catch was “foreigners to the back”. I did not like being told I had to sit at the back of the bus because I was different, but the back looked just as comfortable, so we did as we were told. As more people piled onto the bus, and more of My Six got individually yelled at by other riders to move farther back, we came to understand that the Chinese group we were with had previously been riding the bus and had already picked out their seats.

20180122_123204.jpg
The Big Bus was much more spacious, but equally as dirty as the mini bus.

The bus ride went smoothly enough, but the man who gave us the lanyards at the Dong village spent the entire ride standing at the front of the bus selling his wares (apparently he was going to be our tour guide for the day). He spent about 20 minutes talking over the loud speaker, then passed through handing out free samples. The samples were varied and strange, and of course labeled only in Chinese, leading us to eat something we probably shouldn’t have. Thankfully, the perfume he sprayed the entire length of the bus smelled quite nice, and no one had an allergic reaction. Then he walked up and down the aisle, taking orders. To our surprise, almost everyone on that bus bought at least one of his things, some people calling him back to buy more. It was very bizarre.

Read Josh’s funny story about the “food” we ate on the bus ♥

After an hour of non-stop sales pitches, we finally stopped… in the middle of nowhere, at a group of three nearly abandoned buildings. Now what?!

1:30PM – Lunch

We stopped in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere and were told to get off the bus. The Chinese tourists pushed their way off the bus in a frenzy of excitement. My Six calmly waited their turns, got off, then stood on the derelict sidewalk with a “for God’s sake” look on our faces. The tour guide, not finding us among the mob of excited Chinese, came back to us and told us we were to have lunch now. He showed us a menu and pushed us to the back of a run-down building.

The menu had no pictures on it and was written in Chinese, so we could only recognize a few of the options, and the prices were outrageous. Fried rice that we eat nearly every day for between ¥8 and ¥12 was being offered for ¥45. Again, the Chinese in our group were on cloud nine. They ordered food and beers, toasted each other, sang and joked, took selfies and pictures of their food. We, on the other hand, walked down the block to see if there was anything cheaper to eat, joined by our new German friends. We found another place just down the way with still-inflated, but significantly better prices. We ordered a dish of green beans, pork with green onions, rice, and a beer. We expected the price to be around ¥80, so we were surprised when it came out to ¥100! Looking over the bill, there were a few charges we didn’t recognize. Josh asked our waitress to explain. “It’s two apiece for the rice, two for the dishes, and two for the napkins.” The four of us looked at her in astonishment. We managed to argue our way out of paying for the napkins, since we hadn’t used them, but we ended up paying the rest. So lunch was a bit of a bust.

An hour later, we were ushered back onto the bus.

Read more about the food we ate while in Guilin, China ♥

2:30PM – Nap Time

It was time for Chinese siesta, so the remainder of the bus ride went on without any sales pitches or interruptions. It was a beautiful drive with breathtaking views at every turn. As my window had a rather large gob of dried phlegm on it, I put on my mask and pretended like it wasn’t there and just enjoyed the scenery.

20180122_123210

We drove past Yangshuo, over the river, then back North through some small farming villages. I got more and more excited with every turn. We were heading to Yangdi, passing the lovely village of Xingping along the way. Me eyes were glued to the window trying to catch a glimpse of Xingping. Then, way sooner than I was expecting, we stopped again.

4:00PM – “We Boat Now”

Again, the Chinese tourists were nearly bursting with excitement. The pure joy on their face was the only thing keeping me from hailing a cab to our next hotel. It was nice to take a step back and watch my fellow passengers have their adventure of a lifetime. They were tourists, too; they knew what to expect out of the trip they had booked, and were having the time of their lives.

We got off the bus and the tour guide said, “We boat now.” I asked the driver to get my backpack out of the trunk for me, but I got shooed away and beckoned to stick with the group. Well, that is why I keep my passport and valuables in my Go Bag. Who knows if I will get to see my backpack ever again. Who needs clothes anyway?

We walked through a hole in a metal fence, surrounded by garbage and what I’m pretending wasn’t sewage. Then, along a “sidewalk” lined with shopping stalls filled with craft items. Again, they were alarmingly over priced and the touts were fairly aggressive. We bee-lined for the nearest bathroom to relieve ourselves of the unintentional free sample ingestion, lost our group, and once again just kept going straight in hopes that we would know where we were going once we saw it. We didn’t find the group, but I did spot an amazing view.

20180122_151829

Besides for the heavy smell of gasoline and sewage, it was one of the most beautiful scenes I had ever seen. The river was shallow enough that I could see the bottom, the boats were rusted and in great need of repair, but beautiful in their own way. The mountains… the mountains… I wish I were a better writer and could explain how almost alarmingly stunning they were. I’m not sure every thesaurus in the world could help explain the beauty before me. I kept catching myself forgetting to breathe.

The tour guide wakened me from my trance, beckoning us to come join the group a little farther ahead. He spoke to the group of Chinese who, again, ran off with school girl excitement to the boat. Then he collected My Six and told us “You, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6” looked please with himself and walked away. Thank you? We followed the others down the pier to our waiting boat and, once again, hoped everything would make sense soon.

TO BE CONTINUED…

"The Places We Live - Li River Cruise Part One" text written in white over an image of the Li River and karst mountains in Xinging, China "The Places We Live - Li River Cruise Part Two" text written in white over an image of the Li River and karst mountains in Xingping, China "The Places We Live - Li River Cruise Part Three" Text written in white and red over an image of the Li River and karst mountains in Xingping, China.