Thursday, September 15, 2005

Yangshuo

Thanks to all for your comments!  It's so great to hear that people are following along!
To pick up where I left off in Louyang, we took the overnight train at about 1am.  When we arrived, the giant courtyard in front of the train station was completely filled with sleeping people - all waiting for their morning train.  When I climbed into my middle bunk, I was too tired to care that I had no pillow and fell immediately asleep.  It had been so long in the heat without a shower that I couldn't tell which was dirtier, me or the train - both were pretty shocking!
A quick bus ride through Yichang where we boarded the boat.  I learned that the three major products of the city are Tangerines, Hydroelectric power, and "black gold" (Caviar) of the Chinese Sturgeon.  Then we were on the boat and the pace of life slowed by about 75%.  We passed through the three gorges in the first 24 hours - they were gorgeous as expected.  I took a lot of film photos and am pretty sure they all look roughly the same but when you keep seeing beauty, it's hard to stop snapping that shutter!
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  I spent the first night with my fingernail scissors cutting the sleeves off my remaining t-shirts.  Half of them went in the trash along with most of the socks I brought.  Only one big packing regret - my hiking boots.  Haven't even considered wearing them since we got off the plane in Beijing and they are consuming prime real estate in the ol' backpack.  The boat consisted of a lot of eating, sleeping and lounging on the sundeck watching the scenery glide by.  After all of our running around, it was the perfect respite.  We were joined on the cruise by two other ImTrav groups and a bunch of geriatric Australians, who were a complete hoot.  The boat crew organized all these activities for us - a talent show and a masquerade ball, which was mystifying because not many of us brought costumes along in our packs!  As I can't resist a chance to dress up, I wore my nightgown, which is a respectable calf-length red cotton knit Gap number with straps.  I fastened one of the room towels around my shoulders with a barrette to create a luxurious looking wrap.  My dark sunglasses and sandalwood fan added mystique and the slippers from the room (white to tie in with the bath towel shawl) completed the look.
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  I was a huge hit!  Several of our group members didn't recognize me - hee hee!  My favorite part was sitting on the sundeck after dark when it was cool and breezy and the boat was rocking gently.  We had two short excursions - one canoe trip where the locals got out and pulled the boat through the shallow parts and one hike up a pagoda.  It's strange to think that in a few years, when the dam project is finished, a lot of the things we've seen will be completely submerged.
Overall, the boat was nice but felt pretty touristy in comparison to the places we'd been prior.  I had no idea how much this and the heat and humidity would be amplified once we reached Guangxi Province.  HOLY COW it's hot here.  I am pretty sure I don't have anything in my life experience to compare it to.  The fact that I said it was hot in Louyang and on the boat makes me laugh...or it would if it weren't too hot to move!  I have no idea what the temperature is but let me just say it's 9:30 PM and I have the hem of my tank top pulled up to my armpits and I'm dripping in sweat.  On the upside, I can justify an ice cream bar any time of day!
Yangshuo is a small town with breathtaking countryside. 
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The town is like 50% European tourists and 50% locals.  It's a bit of a letdown, culture-wise, but the scenery makes up for it. 
Last night our group went out for dinner and ordered some "exotic" dishes for the table.  Dag and I both passed on the dog, rat and snake.  I had a bunch of the snails though - they were super tasty.
This morning, while it was still "cool"  (felt like 80 degrees by 7:30am - no joke), we all rented bikes and rode out to Moon Hill - about an hour bike ride along gravel roads through rice paddys (sp?) and farm land. 
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The more adventurous (insane) of us, hiked up Moon Hill.  Those with heat stroke paranoia (can you tell I was one of them?) stayed behind in the cafe eating peanuts and drinking iced tea.  The more political minded Americans at the table were explaining the current administration to the Kiwis in the group.  Later, naptime.  This is definitely an area where you want to siesta at midday and do all your necessary moving (very slowly) in the morning and after sunset.  OK, my hour is up here and I'm due for some ice cream.  Dag and Larry are going to get up at like 5AM to do this super grueling groovy hike which is supposed to deliver some incredible scenery.  I will have breakfast and finish up my souvenir shopping - which is just a dreaded chore.  Bargaining has got to be my least favorite thing and when I'm overwhelmed by heat it becomes even more difficult.  BUT!  At 9am I have a massage scheduled!  1hr for 50 RMB!  (Like 6 or 7 bucks!).  I may just do that the next day too!  Dr. Lily!  Also scheduled for tomorrow afternoon is a cave excursion and then a group dinner in the countryside.
I will be online again tomorrow or Saturday for sure.
Hope all is well for everyone!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey LG. I just caught up with your adventures. I'm so glad you got some of those stories down while you are in the moment. I really love haring about it all. See you soon.
XO, DF

Anonymous said...

I know it might make me sound like a total yokel but it totally rocks my world that you are all the way across the world telling all about your trip. Maybe progress isn't such a bad thing? Can't wait to see you in the flesh.

pablo said...

bandita-
i have images of you in fancy-dress party wear hiking the great wall with followers checking your digi-cam as seas of people make paths for you and your curly haired tour guide in mystifying heat. (granted, that is just a amalgamation of your stories, but it makes me happy reading about your experiences. its kinda like you dancing on the picnic table with fruit on your head with the neighborhood children- but in china) looking forward to seeing more pics.
xoxo
pablo

Mittens Pierre said...

thank god for ice cream, eh!