Long time, no blog? What can i say, i've been busy. Photos will follow in due course, but in the meantime please accept my humble scribings as an update....also, i do check my message boards and email when i logon so please keep the messages coming, nice to hear some news from home once in a while
As mentioned in an earlier missive, thoughts will fly at random down my arms and through the keypad so to make the most of my memory i shall log my most recent adventures in reverse chronological order:
Today - 10th Nov - Returned from Long Ji Terraces to Guilin to catch the last of the overnight trains towards the border for Hong Kong eta 12 noon tomorrow.
Yesterday - 9th Nov Hiked....yes HIKED...for 4 hours through the picturesque mountains and terraces from one village to another to change lodgings, every view was a postcard, so peaceful and green. Trod over old stone pathways, up and down mountains, through streams....some mud involved briefly, the sun shone but my traveller's hat kept me protected, the air was clean and warm - a lovely way to spend half the day.
Arrived safe and sound at our new lodgings, simple but clean and fairly new - very chilly in the mountains, however, and what little warm clothes i had packed to trek with were all worn from the afternoon, nearly through all the night to the next day - sheets felt a bit damp, like the night before - but this time no cozy air-con for the room!
Finished the night off with a show by some of the local ladies performing traditional folk dancing that dates back 500 years - great fun, some of our group were invited to return some entertainment, one sang 'Valerie' and another performed gymnastics. We all had a go at 'bamboo dancing' which involves skipping across a 'river' of clacking bamboo sticks that get progressively faster - i did ok, even in my flip flops...Shran, as a video will show, accidentally landed on one stick and broke it....all funny and in good spirits for the night. 2 of our group were 'married' and were asked to complete various courting dances including drinking rice wine! Great night. Tried the locally grown tea - yummy.
8th Nov Woke up at the 'Outside Inn' and bused Guilin station - left our rucksacks at the Left Luggage - then bused to Long Ji Terraces and walked 1 hour to the first village where we would spend the night - so pretty here, local women of the villages are famous for growing very long hair on their heads - they wear it like hats! Quite cold and our group leader, Frank, negotiated free air-con for each room to warm things up - much appreciated! Quite funny, this lodge had only had electricity since February this year - the manager was running up and down the stairs helping start the air con machines - each model was slightly different!
7th Nov 'All day' bike ride - in the rain - it did not stop but made the 'off road' part of the route quite an adventure - we waded through streams that had burst their banks, avoided puddles as best we could - i was drying my shoes for the next 2 days - this diminshed little the enjoyment we had. Lunched in a farmer's house, nice and simple, before voting for the 'short route' back to the Inn.
6th Nov Yangshuo Fawlty Towers was the name of the hotel - the toilet only broke temporarily, other than that, cool - nice and near 'West Street' where all the bars and restaurants are located. Did Tai Chi in the morning with Master Yang, a friendly and impressive martial arts master - we even sparred a little - he could have broken me in 2 with his little finger! Then went Kayaking on part of the river Li - aprt from our group of 5 kayaks there was nobody else, and we were paddling down it for hours - so beautiful and tranquil.
Transferred from Fawlty Towers to the Outside Inn before going for a swim, again in a part of the river (sorry dad - but the guide showed us a special part and i trust he wouldn't let us swim in poop!). Quick-drying towel worked, but left me covered in blue fluff - see the 'Superman' video if/when it gets posted.
5th Nov Yangshuo Fawlty Towers - Whoa! I know Kung Fu. Completed an hour's tuition with the multi-talented Master Yang in the local park - learnt 20 moves....i remember 2.5! A good crack - rested most of the day before going to see a show near to the village - all performed outside on a lake - it was spectacular as about 300-400 actors were involved, with lights, singing, boats, animals, kids, costumes that lit up - all directed by a guy responsible for some of the opening ceremony to this year's Olympics.
4th Nov Arrived from the overnight train from Shanghai to Guilin, bused to Yangshuo Fawlty Towers - group meal in the evening, yummy beer fish which i think is locally caught/grown catfish cooked in beer! Then drank some of the night away, played a bit of pool with the group. Our group leader was encouraged to drink and snort a flaming cocktail by one of his bosses - thanks boss!
3rd Nov Delicious lamb and naan in a muslim restaurant near the hotel,then said goodbye to Shangha - not sorry to be leaving here - a bit seedy, expensive, not easy to navigate. Overnight train to Guilin - no snoring Chinese this time, trip lasted for over 24 hours.
2nd Nov Shanghai Visited the famous YuYuan Gardens in the centre of Shanghai - beautiful and marvellous buildings interwoven by koi-filled streams and rock gardens. Tried some Dim Sum at a 'famous' restaurant next door - like a mssive Dim Sum food court - turns out that Sharan and i ordered and ate and enjoyed Shark's Fin soup, along with several other delicacies. Finished the night off with a boat ride on the river viewing the spectacular buildings all lit up - visibility somewhat reduced by smog but good to get out from between all the buildings.
1st Nov Shanghai - arrived at the station, taxi'd to our hotel - had a lovely meal in the restaurant next door. They served silkworms there, we didn't have any. Then did the orientation tour, not a lot to it and Shanghai is massive. Saw the Pearl Tower - impressive. Tried to visit the museum, but it was too late and closing - chatted with some friendly locals about this and that before returning to go out again - tried out one area, the 'bar street', limited options and expensive beers - we went out as a group of 12 in 3 taxi's - lost one taxi on the way, luckily Sharan saw the group walking along from one of the bars we chose about an hour later. We left some people watching footy in Oscar's, an Englishesque pub - to find better nightlife - a group of 6 of us, Martyn a wlsh guy, Isabelle a German, 2 Swedes Karin and Gunnar, and Sharan and i rolled up at a line of about 6 seedy looking bars - grabbed a beer in one laughing at the entertainment, avery happy looking Chinese singer with some sexy, loud-singing lady singers - we even helped sing Bryan Adams' classic - 'In Heaven' - Grabbed the delicious chicken burger from a stall and Sharan goit chatting to the next door club owner - he got us in free to his bar upstairs which was salsa, but the beer was cheap - Karin and Gunnar taught us all to salsa and we threw ourselves in to it. Top night in the end - a little concerned about coming out again to find lots of 'girls' in short skirts with adams apples lurking around - retired to our hotel, not before getting some street meat to fill our tummies
31st October - Overnight train from Xi'an to Shanghai - loved Xi'an, especially the bustling Muslim qurter - Frank told hilarious 'killer' stories as we played cards - we were eventually told to shut up by a guard and went to sleep