Saturday 7th November - MOVING ONTO YANGSHUO
Was feeling a little yucky today - not looking forward to the journey ahead at all, but at least it wasn't far away. Got a couple of what they call French bread rolls here, they did taste slightly like croissants, just needed something in my belly. Took about 30-40mins to reach Yangshuo bus station and we knew the hostel we were staying in was within walking distance, so begun walking along the road in the direction the map had mentioned on the internet. As we came to a petrol station about 15mins along a white couple about our age approached us looking very flustered and very angry. They had just been kicked out of their minivan and had their bags thrown onto the road, they never even did anything wrong, just asked the guys if they could be taken to the bus station, clearly this was as far as the guys wanted to take them and with the language barrier they got into a heated row about it. Anyway, we pointed them in the direction of the bus station and they were really grateful.
Now was our turn to get lost. We wandered down a side street which we thought was the right way, but couldn't see any so called signs for our hostel that were supposed to be clear to see. So we went into a nearby hotel and called them. Two guys pulled up on mopeds about 5mins later, so we knew they were not far away. As it turned out, if we had continued for about 2 more minutes up this side road, we would have seen the signs, we just didn't expect it to be so far along. Anyway, got there safe and sound and actually enjoyed the short ride on the motorbike. The Culture House (hostel) was recommended to us by one of the guys in STA Travel and so glad it was, the staff were very friendly and the rooms were fab.
Was pleasantly surprised when the owner asked us to take off our shoes and put on some slippers - like in Japan, it felt really nice. The owner spoke very good English and was very kind. After showing us our very nice room, he gave us time to sort ourselves out and just asked us to come to the kitchen when we were ready, where he offered us fruit and ran through all the activities in the area and activities they offer at the house free of charge. There is so much you can do, a calligraphy lesson, Chinese speaking lesson, Thai chi lesson, cooking and much much more. There was no pressure to do anything, the owner was not trying to sell us anything and was so chilled out, we instantly relaxed. I was still feeling a little ropey, so after some fried rice for a late lunch, we relaxed in the hostel, phoned a few people on skype and generally wound down.
At dinner there was only us and a German guy Maurice, nice guy. Dinner was fantastic, there was so much variety and for only us, we couldn't believe it, there was about 7 dishes, all of which were gorgeous. Somehow we managed to eat it all, but boy was we stuffed afterwards. The home cooked foods are always the best YUM! Afterwards we relaxed in the front room area and I picked out a film called the Boathouse, with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, was interested to see how they was in this after Speed together. It was ok, a bit slow, but never got to see the end cos the disc was scratched, will have to see it some other time.
Sunday 8th November - A CHINESE LESSON
Up around 9ish, but was so comfy lied in bed for a bit, you really have to make the most of not having to get up for work and just enjoying lie in's together, it's too good. Eventually ventured to the kitchen for breakfast, where we were greeted by some of the owner's family and they had set up a table full of fruit, apples, pears, banana's and watermelon, topped with a pile of toast with our choice of jam or peanut butter PERFECT! We felt spoilt, especially when we had devoured the lot and they asked if we wanted more - we were stuffed though.
Did a few bits before going out and decided to take the hostel bikes out and go into the countryside for a cycle around. Maurice had told us some areas which were worth a visit, so we headed in that direction. Got lost within about 10mins but eventually found one of the main roads and although it wasn't pleasant riding alongside the traffic instead of in the countryside, we did come across many other cyclists all heading in the same direction, so presumed it leaded somewhere worth going to. First came to a butterfly park, which we found on their scribbled map, wasn't bothered about going in, bit expensive for what it was, but at least we knew where we was now.
Further on this main road we came to the caves, which looked pretty cool on the posters in the guesthouse, but it was getting late now, so thought we would check it out another day if we wanted to. Plus didn't have our swimwear on us and it's all about swimming areas inside. Ventured on to a place called Moon Hill. Maurice had been yesterday, said he cycled to it and then climbed up it to the rock which is shaped like a moon, it takes about an hour or so to get to the top, but us being lazy bones, took pictures from the road, you could see it just as good from there. Was pleased to find the route through the countryside on the way back. What a gorgeous place, so quiet away from all the traffic, towering limestone peaks at every angles and little huts and small villages through the middle, so beautiful and a brilliant cycle track. We loved it. Stopped briefly at a gorgeous looking lodge, a highly priced resort, but we had a milkshake by the river where more bamboo rafts were floating on by, it had a beautiful garden to relax in and to be fair, could've stayed there for the rest of the day, but we had a fair journey back and my bum pains were begging me not to do it te he.
Passed many more villages on the way back, waved at many children who called out to us and adults going about their business, very nice people. Such a different way of life, but they must love the tranquility that surrounds them, a much different pace to city life. Got back to the hostel for about 5ish. A ozzie couple about mum and dad's age were just checking in, they have just been through Thailand and were telling us all about it, nice couple.
Next up, the owner gave us a Chinese lesson, was hilarious trying to pronounce some of the words, not the easiest language in the world, but we had a good go at it and wrote a lot of stuff down. The owner was so dedicated to try and help and really pleased at how much enthusiasm we were putting in, he could see we were taking it serious and generally interested in learning it, which I think made him continue up until dinner, passed the normal hour he normally does. Dinner was once again amazing, more different dishes, we are eating much more now, but when the food is this good, you just can't help yourself.
Out in the town for the night, the night market was closed today and we really didn't fancy walking around the many clothes shops. Which mainly seemed to be sports clothes - not sure why, but they are really into keeping fit here. Could hear music coming from the local park, so went for a closer look. Heaps full of local ladies were doing a dance, with few steps that took them around in a circle. Well the saying is, "if you can't beat them, join them" so I did. Ad found it hilarious and took pic's of me, it was great fun and believe it or not, I got the steps in no time. Think I was pretty good at it actually.
Back to hostel after my not so strenuous work out and managed to get onto skype to wish Tanya a happy birthday. Was pleased to catch Claire and Trish with her as well, they'd had a massive night out on the town last night and were feeling a little worse for wear, but was so good to sit and chat to them, like I was in the room with them arrhhhh.