Friday, September 16, 2005

Last day in Yangshuo

Yesterday I got up early and had a massage by one Dr. Lily who was recommended by our leader.  It was very aggressive and I think her thumbs poked every muscle I have.  I tend to be very ticklish so a lot of it wasn't the most pleasant, but I think it probably did me a lot of good anyway.  Later, Dag and I joined 9 other groupies for an excursion to a local cave.  The cave was beautiful but the transport and organization were a bit harrowing.  I guess we are all spoiled by how well our tour leader has all of our activities laid out for us.  This was booked through a local guy she recommended and involved a lot of waiting around, squishing into vans with questionable suspension leaping across boulders.  We all piled into canoes to sail into the entrance of the cave, once having to get out into calf-high water and push.  Our English guide didn't know any more about the cave than we did, but he would stop us at intermittent vantage points to tell us what the stalactites and stalagmites looked like:  "here we have an elephant" "here is a group of people on a city street"  "this is the world's largest foot" etc etc.  But when I asked how long it takes for one to form, he said "I also do not know".  Ah well.  We skipped out on the giant pool of mud that you could jump into.  Just to the left of the pool, they had a COMPUTER station set up so they could sell you digital photos of you wearing a mud shirt.  When we returned to the point where we had gotten off the canoes, our guide got on a TELEPHONE to call for the boats to come pick us back up.  15 minutes later, two boats showed up but somehow with not enough employees to row us all back.  We were growing impatient so Dag joked that he would just row us back and the guide nodded and handed him the paddle!  First thing we did was a giant 360 which made me shriek with laughter as I tried to keep us from hitting the rocks with the giant bamboo pole.  We got righted quickly and tried to make our way with paddle and pole until we got high centered on the sandy bottom.  Dag got out and pulled us all the way to the mouth of the cave - what a hero!
For dinner, we all boated an hour into the countryside to a small village with an amazing restaurant facing the river.  It was so peaceful and beautiful - definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip for us.  We were greeted with huge trays of watermelon and purified water.  The group has really bonded now so everyone was snapping photos of each other left and right - just one giant self-loving paparazzi!  There were people washing clothes and themselves in the river, giant herds of ducks roaming from place to place, and water buffalos cooling themselves in the water or eating grass near the houses. 
For dinner, we had duck, bamboo steamed chicken, beef clay pot, breaded tofu mixed with cilantro and vegetables, two different plates of stir fried veggies, and banana bread for dessert with coffee or tea.  After an hour of lazy after dinner conversation with a background of flute playing courtesy of one of the village residents (he was not playing for us, I don't think, it was just what he did at night), our guide led us through the village by flashlight to our bus.  We were able to peek into the living rooms of the villagers on the way (all doors were wide open).  Everyone was watching a local talent show on TV - Our guide says they are all the rage these days.  The walls of one house we saw were completely covered with Mao posters.  In the cities, you do not see this anywhere, ever.  But the farmers still hold him in very high regard.
We are all on the road to stinkyville as we leave this humid place, checking out of our hotel at noon today, taking an overnight train to Hong Kong with no shower in sight until tomorrow afternoon.
Once in Hong Kong, our tour unstructures and we are left to our own devices.  Monday morning the tour is officially over and Dag and I have booked one extra day.  We fly home Tuesday around 2pm.  It's hard to believe it's almost over but also feels like I've been gone so much more than two weeks.


Jen said...

Leslie - I am so enjoying your travel commentary! I love hearing about everything and am so glad (selfishly) that you're taking the time to write it. I can't wait to see the pictures that accompany your descriptions - although you describe them so well I don't need them (but want them nonetheless).

DM said...

Wow, it seems like you're having a great time. Have a safe trip home.

xanaduDanny said...

I must second Jens' "sentiments". I can't wait to interface with you soon. Sunny D