Oh wow..we've arrived in a little bit of heaven. Staying here in the Yangshuo Village Retreat, up the side of a hill, above the town of Yangshuo. This is just bliss..we've totally chilled out after the almost two weeks of hectic-ness and cities! We've sat around playing Scrabble each evening, and read our books. The boys have read all their books now, Oisin has had to read his Famous Five book twice!!! I'm sorry we didn't bring more books but we really didn't have the room!
The hotel is just gorgeous, it has all the facilities of a hotel but it's not stodgy - it has the atmosphere of the (best bits) of a packpackers' hostel - it has a lovely open area downstairs with tables and chairs, with a bar and food if you want or we just play games or read. We're the only ones here with no laptop/computer/tablet - all the other guests are heads stuck into their laptops at every opportunity! I'm using the hotel computer down in the reception area!! We have a mobile phone so what else do we need?! We also managed to get two loads of laundry done too..yippee..clean clothes again!!! Boys playing pingpong too - table in the middle of the patio area, and yesterday the girl from the bar just started playing with Ronan - they played for ages together! The staff are lovely to the kids, it's a really small hotel, in the country, and we're able to let them wander outside or around the bar a bit, whereas in the cities I couldn't take my eyes off them. The guy who runs the hotel is Belgian originally - came here four years ago and set up a hostel, then the hotel two years ago. Now boys have added to their list of what they want to do - they want to come out to China in the next two years and set up a hostel for people coming on holidays. They're going home to get Mandarin lessons first, we all are apparently, then we're going to set up a hostel/martial arts centre, where you can stay for maybe a week, or three, and do lessons everyday. We're all going to be running the hostel together, but I'm in charge of the cleaning apparently while they'll do the reception desk and the cooking. Do you like their plan?!!! I do!!!!!
Took a lovely trip up the Li River on a bamboo raft yesterday evening, spent the two hours just in awe at the karst mountain scenery - all limestone mountains - fabulous.
It's like living in a rainforest here, the greenery is so intense. There's been torrential rain and thunderstorms, and it's so humid. But it suits us, as we're not doing anything these few days, bar relaxing (up the side of a mountain) and chilling out before heading the madness of Hong Kong.
Tomorrow we'll be leaving here, taking a boat up to Guilin, and then catching a night train to Hong Kong. This time we've treated ourselves to 'soft sleepers' - so a cabin, with only four bunks for the four of us! And a door that locks :) It'll be so interesting to see the difference.
That's the other thing - the boys just take to all the different types of travelling and accommodation - we've stayed in the most gorgeous of hotels everywhere but totally different types - not all five star polished "western" hotels, but old-style hotels, as well as fancy ones (Beijing) - hard sleepers on trains with Chinese toilets (don't ask!!!!) - they just do it and take it as part of the experience.
So here we are - day 15 of our Chinese trip and loving China. It's been the experience of a lifetime and we'd definitely come back. I'd never have come to China, if we hadn't have had the free flights, but now I'd make a point of saving and coming here in the future, it's amazing. People are just unbelievable and they make the country - they're so friendly and welcoming.