Time to recap my trip to China for you! I took so many pictures, it’s ridiculous. Therefore, it’ll take me a couple of posts to get you back on track with what’s going on in my life 😛
On Thursday March 29th around 4pm we – Kim, Anna Maria and I – left our flat at Sassoon Road and took the MTR train to Shenzhen, which is just across the border of China. Shenzhen is a big city essential to Chinese economic growth, since it is a centre of technological development in China. Deng Xiaoping made Shenzhen the first ‘Special Economic Zone’ in China in 1979, way before Shanghai. Unfortunately, we did not get to see Shenzhen much, since it was not on our schedule. However, I’m planning to go back after I’ve finished my exams and treat myself to a stay at Queen Spa, an extremely cheap all-inclusive hotel with spa. From Shenzhen we took an overnight bus to Yangshuo, which is a village along the Li River.
The beds in the bus were pretty tiny: I only just fit! It was quite comfortable, though, and around 5am we were woken up by Chinese house music, which is a very hip way to wake up. Anyway, that was the staff’s way of alerting us to the fact that the bus would arrive soon. When we arrived in Yangshuo, we were immediately approached by two men who wanted to give us a ride to our hotel. However, they refused to take our two Swedish friends, which we had just met on the bus. Of course, this seemed extremely sketchy to us, so we refused to go with the men. Then one of them got all weird and started shouting all kinds of offensive synonyms for sex to us, which made it even less likely we’d have them bring us anywhere. So we walked. It took us approx. 20 minutes to get to our hostel, the Showbizz hostel (awful awful name), and it wasn’t so difficult to find with the map of Yangshuo in my guide book. On the way there, though, people kept bothering us to sell us things: hostels, cruises, cab rides. One man would even drive ahead of us all the time and start talking to us constantly. Pretty annoying. When we finally got there, the hostel was closed, but we were allowed to wait in the lobby until 8am, when our room would be available.
The surroundings were beautiful: our hostel was next to an intimidatingly HUGE mountain called Green Lotus Peak. On our first day we had a cruise on the Li River on a private bamboo raft, which was gorgeous. The Li River is 85km long and is famous for the amazing, weirdly shaped mountains that surround it. Most of the mountains have names and villagers still know the myths that people invented about them. Our captain was very kind and tried to explain things to us, even though he did not speak English. (by the way, knowing basic Mandarin was SO HANDY when traveling through China, you cannot imagine)
In the evening we went out with some guys we met at our hostel and I tore my pants while pole dancing, which made for some nice pictures. (NOT posting on blog, they’re on my facebook, though :P) We also played beer pong in two teams: Commonwealth and Europe, because we were in total 2 Canadians, 1 Australian, 2 Swedish and 1 Dutch, making for a perfect division.
The next day we rented two TINY TINY bikes from the hostel and cycled away from Yangshuo. Kim had a bit of a hard time remembering how to cycle, so that was interesting at first 😉 We visited an Old Banyan Tree and the Assembling Dragons Cave, both of which were EXTREMELY touristy. However, I myself was of course the biggest tourist attraction, being by far the whitest person most Chinese tourists had ever seen. All I can say is I’m featured in many people’s holiday pics. (At one point I felt I was getting sun stroke, so I bought a typical Chinese hat, which made me even more interesting looking) It was nice to cycle again, even though the bikes were so small my knees were almost besides my ears. The Assembling Dragons Cave is a long cave with beautiful stone formations inside. However, the lights were very tacky and colourful and there were tour guides shouting everywhere, which destroyed the calm atmosphere.
The next day was AWFUL. We rented bicycles again, because we wanted to visit some rice fields. However, the ride there took waaaay longer than we had expected. After two hours we decided to give up on the idea and turn around. However, Anna Maria fell and her bike broke. The chain was off, but it had gotten stuck so I couldn’t get it back on. I had tried fixing the bike for a while, due to which my hands were pitchblack. (that, along with my whiteness and Chinese hat seemed to be the biggest event in Yangshuo in modern history, considering the amount of attention I drew) I figured I could bike two bikes and Anna Maria and Kim could cycle together, with one person sitting on the back. This turned out to be way more difficult than I thought it would and we couldn’t cycle all the way back like this. We decided to just leave the bicycles in Baisha Town and take the bus back. You cannot imagine how TIRED I was of carrying the two bikes and trying to fix the bike; I was a wreck when we arrived at the hostel. We chilled a bit at the hostel and then took the bus to Guilin. Which I will tell all about next time you read my blog 😉