Saturday, 13 February 2010

Lazy Lijiang

Okay, it was early, but the views down Lijiang River were well worth it. I could wake up to it everyday if possible, and the fresh river air aroused our senses. I must have taken at least 100 photos, anxious not to miss one moment of that journey. On a bamboo raft, we finally made it to XingPing, from where we would take another bus to Yangshuo.

There I was itching to find out the reason behind the weird and wonderful shapes of Lijiang mountains, so as I encountered an English-speaking Chinese man next to me, I fired my question at him. It is because of the limestone that slowly decayed over time and left these wondrous beasts behind. Who knows, in 50 years time, they may not even be there. So as we approached Yangshuo, having booked a hotel this time, I was little more relieved. We landed in a landscape haven but filled to the brim with tourists galore. Bamboo Cafe and Inn was hosted by the delightful but talkative Anne, a Chinese woman from the north, someone we could finally understand as the southern Chinese accent began to take its toll. And after a bit of careful student bargaining, we settled for a reasonable price and prepared for the next few hours. TAMDEN BIKE RIDING.

 Okay, for those who know me...I have a rather odd relationship with those two legged, freaks of a vehicle ie. I can't actually ride one...oh the shame. So when I was told that it was possible for the two of us to jump one, I was both terrified and excited at the same time. It started off a little bumpy, but the next thing, we were sailing away for 5 hours. Let's not talk about the muscle pain the next day. But it was amazing, and I did actually peddle! So after 2 hours, we reached Moon Hill (YueLiang Shan), 1251 steps up to the top, easy until you actually start. By the time we reached the top, we had all officially died, but the scene was beautiful. The green mountains caressed the small city below. But then came the climb back down and another 2 hours on the bike. Eek.

Dying from pain the next day, we decided to take it easy and just wander through the quaint streets of Yangshuo. We settled for lunch at a Middle-Eastern restaurant- random I know, but it was the first time my Korean counterparts had tried the cuisine, and delighted to say they loved it. The night time was another affair altogether. The lights resembled a cross between the red-light district of Paris and the hubbub of Laos. Not always good, especially as the streets were lined with lapdancing clubs, catered for the idiotic foreigners. Not too pleased to say the least. Then came the strange old Korean man, who took us out to dinner, desperate for some conversation in his native tongue. Awkward for me a little, but one heck of a giant free meal. Then returning to hotel, only to think we came face to face with some ghost, the neighbour's front door and the bathroom door swinging open, making us gallop down the stairs. Ice cold beer, literally ended our last night in Yangshuo, as we headed back to Guilin the next day to take the train back home.

Just before we headed on to the train, I burnt my mouth of with the spiciest bowl of noodles ever imagined, it was seeping red, my mouth was on fire and I was becoming well aware of the fact that I would have to spend 23 hours on a train back to Beijing (thank god it was a sleeper). It was luxury compared to the nightmare of the hard seat. We became increasingly aware that the man opposite, staring profusely at us was a policeman, and he proceeded in taking our pictures, though I did tell him to stop. A marriage proposal for his son later, I managed to inch away. A 4 year old child who was persistent on speaking English with us, stayed for a while to play cards, not before being pulled away kicking and screaming by the parents to go to sleep. And then came the lights out at 10pm and the ghost stories. AGH! I'm still freaked out by the Korean's way of telling stories, not surprising that they created Tale of Two Sisters and Old Boy.

I was awoken the next day to say that we would be arriving earlier than expected only to realise that once again we had mistaken the women's southern accent, and the journey was actually 27 hours, a slow train, a slow pain and a slow death. Five hours of Charades did the trick, and by the time we reached it was 11pm the next day! It was all over, back to the mists of Ol' Jing.

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