07.06.2012 - 09.06.2012
Day 136 – Thursday 7th June
So after that mammoth journey I made it here (eventually) to Ynagshuo this morning and first thoughts are that it’s fucking hot here!! I got off the bus and it’s like 100% humidity here and about 33 degrees, pretty much the complete opposite of what I’ve been experiencing of late, and the last thing you want when you’ve got your bags and you feel super grimey from all the travelling already. On top of this, this place is so fucking touristy, considering I haven’t seen a white person in about 5 days it was a very big shock to see so many, and a McDonald’s despite this being a tiny town. My favourite thing about China is that there aren’t so many westerners and you can properly get into the culture, so with all this and the heat and the tiredness I was nothing short of depressed to arrive here. So I got going on my short walk to my hostel, dropped my bag and had a well-deserved shower. Then I went out to go get some food, and got royally ripped off, that’s the most frustrating thing about touristy places, there’s about a 100% inflation rate compared to anywhere else! So I went back and just went to bed, I was not in the mind frame to be dealing with all this. After my little nap I woke up feeling no better about the prospects of being here, so I went for a little walk to try and cheer myself up. This place is on the river and surrounded by Limestone Mountains, which over the years have eroded into the most incredible shapes, so safe to say the scenery is amazing and watching the sunset with some Chinese fishermen made me feel a little better. I then went on a walk to try and find some cheap food, what a mission that was! At least beer is the normal price here (cheaper than water) so I picked up a few and headed back to the hostel. There I met another English guy, Adam, who arrived today as well and is 19! So rare to meet anyone my age in this country, just spent a while catching up on all the places he’s been and shit and as he’d just come from Hong Kong, I tried to teach him a few tricks of the trade about China, but he already speaks more Chinese than me after 2 months, so I guess it’s pretty pointless! We then decided to go on a walk and find the night market, we assumed that there would be some cheap food there and more of a Chinese vibe, but unfortunately we couldn’t find it, but we did manage to find some cheap street food so all was good. Then we came back to the hostel and checked out the legendary rooftop bar at this place, and it was just a sea of westerners, has to be the most I’ve seen in one place since I left Beijing almost 2 months ago! This whole scene just made me feel fucking uncomfortable and confused, so I quickly got away and after spending a bit of time on the internet I hit the hay.
Day 137 – Friday 8th June
Lonely Planet says the only way to really see this place is to get a bike and go for a ride around, and this place is awash with bike rental places, so me and Adam got up relatively early to check out the local scenery. Adam had a bit of a mare overall with the bike, after about 2 minutes of getting on it he slipped on the cobbled road (as it was wet) right in front of the place we rented the bikes! Luckily neither him nor the bike were hurt so we carried on, the aim is to make it to a town called Xingping which has amazing views of the mountains and the river and is the picture on the back of the 20 Yuan notes. After a good 2 hours of painstakingly tough riding (due to the horrendous humidity) we decided to stop off for a bite to eat. Adam then saw a restaurant and darted across the road to get in, unfortunately he didn’t look and there was a bus coming full speed the other way! Luckily he managed to pull back a bit and the bus managed to stop as much as it could, but he still got hit and got thrown off the bike. The whole thing was fucking terrifying, so lucky the bus driver was looking and slammed on the brakes as hard as he did, because Adam managed to get away with just a couple of minor grazes. Unsurprisingly, the Chinese guys had no sympathy for him, only for money and after threatening us with the police they eventually settled for the equivalent of £40 to sort out the dent on the front of the bus. They then gave us a free lift back to Yangshuo, so all that hard biking work went out the window. Once we got back first thing we had to do was get this bike fixed before we took it back to the rental place and got stung even more than already. After first hiding out in a restaurant due to the fucking monsoon coming down overhead we found somewhere which would sort out the bike for not too much and they even leant Adam another bike so we could go see some shit. This time we decided to go the other way and headed south of the city to see ‘moon hill’ a massive hill with a big hole in the middle which looks like a moon. After getting soaked on the way up there, partly due to the rain and mainly due to the unstoppable sweating we got to the top and the sight was pretty impressive. After that, we got back on the bikes and headed back in to town to see if Adam’s bike was fixed. Unfortunately after about 10 minutes of riding I got a bloody puncture and had to walk the rest of the 5km home. Once I got there, I got a shop to pump up the tyre and then I carried it to the rental place so it didn’t deflate at all and I got away with it thankfully. Got back to the hostel, and Adam had managed to pass his off as well so all ended well, and I jumped in a freezing cold shower to wash away the smelliness of the day. After this I went and got a McDonald’s to cheer myself up, haven’t had one in about 3 weeks and as much as I hate what it symbolises I do love the taste and it’s about the closest thing I can get to food from home. After that, went and had a nap and when I got up, me and Adam went to go find some food and get a couple of beers, then I got a couple for the walk home and I slipped over and cut both my knees and most importantly smashed the beers. So all in all we were a couple of walking disasters today! Got back from dinner and sat up drinking with some Chinese guys who just wouldn’t take no for an answer!
Day 138 – Saturday 9th June
It’s about a week now before my visa expires and I’m torn between whether or not to go with the original plan and head down through Laos or extend my visa and hang out in China a bit longer, I’m really not ready to leave this country yet. So when little bear got talking to me online and suggested spending a couple of weeks in and around the Shanghai region, I decided that why not, can’t be too bad an idea and it means I see more of China. So it looks like I’m going to Shanghai?? Anyway, after deciding that, me and Adam got on a bus to Xingping this time so as to avoid any unfortunate accidents and save a couple of hours of bike riding. Once we got there, we dropped our bags off in one of the hostels and we were told that to get the best views we should walk up one of the mountains overlooking the river. So we hit the road, and as you can imagine when we got to the top we were fucking soaked, I can’t deal with this humidity! It was well worth it though, and the views were awesome, so we got a few snaps then headed back down. Once we got to the bottom, we got a couple customary snaps of the view seen on the back of the 20 notes then hit the road. We’re in a bit of a rush because we want to make it to another village tonight, but buses stop running past a point. So we got on a bus back to Yangshuo and then jumped on another bus to Guilin. Once we got here it was already half 5 and considering it takes a good 2 and a half hours to get to this place and we need to change buses at one point and it stops running at 6, there was no chance of making it. So we bought our train tickets for tomorrow, Adam is heading west to Kunming and is going to be doing the route I’ve taken from Beijing, just backwards. I then bought a ticket to Shanghai, really don’t know what I’m doing and whether or not it’s a good idea. Ah well, time will tell! So we then found a cheap hotel just next to the train station and dropped our bags off and headed out for some food. Unfortunately this place is no different to Yangshuo and the prices and portion sizes are ridiculous! So after that, we hit a supermarket to get some snacks and Adam mentioned our room having a DVD player in it so we looked for a pirate DVD for the night. After spending a good half hour in the supermarket of Adam marvelling at all the weird and wonderful shit China has to offer in supermarkets and me just picking up some beer, rice wine and Oreos we went on a search for somewhere selling pirate DVDs. As this is China, that search didn’t take too long and we managed to find a couple English ones, and the winner was the complete Jason Statham collection, which was just 3 disks of about 10 films on each for about £1. So we headed back to the hostel to maybe watch snatch or lock stock or maybe the expendables, unfortunately Mr retard mistook a sky box for a DVD player so we had nothing to watch it on. So we sat back and enjoyed some Chinese talent show and got cracking on the crazy snacks Adam bought and shot the shit. After a couple hours we hit the hay for an early start tomorrow to get to this village and see the ‘Dragon’s backbone rice terraces’ which are supposed to be the most incredible rice terraces in china, the photos certainly make the place look epic, and I’ve wanted to go since I got to China.