The journey here wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, there was plenty of s***head and a******* played with the obligatory rice wine for the loosers!And of course one or two Chinese beers, I also learnt how to play Yatzi properly which is cool.Thankfully Anna was much worse at both than I so I avoided the rice wine hangover, that she endured!
When we arrived in Guilin station we were all so happy to be in warmer climes, it was by no means hot but we could wear a Tee shirts for the first time.We took a public bus to Yangshuo, which was fine exceptfor the exceptionally loud bad Chinese pop music that was played for the complete 1hour and 23minute journey!
The Fawlty Towers Hotel was more like a hostel than the other hotels (we have been spoiled so far, me more than most as I have mostly had my own room & I've managed to get few double beds) , still it was clean and I had another triple room to myself!
Yangshou has a fantastic vibe, it's a real backpacker's destination, but it has managed to keep a level of authenticity.The scenery was absolutely fantastic, the town was surrounded by mountainous limestone casts which completely dominated the landscape.The area had been under the sea thousands of years ago which caused the fantastic rock formations.
We had dinner together at restaurant owned by another Intrepid tour guide, Lucy, the food was nice but unusually for Chinese standards lacking in quantity!It had a really cool atmosphere.We tried to book some activities, which should have been a very simple task, but for some reason Terry was having real difficulties grasping that different people wanted to do different things on different days after the completely unnecessary stress and confusion I managed to arrange Kayaking and a cooking class.
Kirsten, James & I were the only ones that wanted to go Kayaking and I am so glad we did, it was amazing, definitely in my top two so far!The seven thirty start was a little unnecessary but we had decided to go to Lucy's for breakfast as she opened the restaurant at seven. When she arrived her restaurant was closed (b****!).Anyway we met the Kayak leader at the hotel, the only adventure sports guide I have ever known to wear a suit! We had the choice to make the 30minute journey to the starting point by car or motorbike. As the drivers here use prayer as an alternative to mirrors and signals we opted for the 'safe' option and took a mini van. The guys driving technique on the dusty back roads reminded me a little of when I had the courtesy car a college (Colin MacRae-esk).
The starting point was a tiny village on the river, it was only about8:30 by this point, the sun was low in the sky and the scenery was beautiful.The river was fairly slow running, so the kayaking was quite tough and after three and a half hours on the water we knew we had been working hard.We did stop for a pot of green tea, about a quarter of the way in but that was it.We were expecting to stop for lunch half way round, but the guide just kept going and going!It was only at the end that he said 'you were one of the quickest groups' - if we knew that we would have taken it a bit easier! Still we were back in time for lunch and a wander around the town's market.
We met up with the rest of the group for a couple of beers and a bite to eat.At the end of the nightnine of us decided to stay out for a few more beers, a strange Chinese man joined us drinking with thought nothing of it and humored his Gambai (down in one) calls for a while, when he realized that we didn't want to down every drink we had bought in one go he got a little agitated and wanted to try out his Kung Fu moves.Luckily the four of the lads were six foot odd plus so we managed to make a safe (well aside from my ruined North Face top)retreat to a new bar.With trouble averted we rewarded ourselves with one or two more beers.During which Jonas taught us how to play Danish dice drinking games, to my detriment, God I had a hangover the next day!
The following day the temperature plummeted by 10 degrees, it was bloody cold again!That evening I took a local cooking class, which started with a tour around the local market, whereby our teacher explained the different vegetables , spices etc. She also showed us the dog section of the market, which I found quite distressing and the sight of the poor animals made me physically sick.So needless to say it is one dish that will be staying off of plate! The cooking class was quite good fun, I learnt a few good recipes including egg & pork dumplings - yum.
We moved from the hotel to the very cleverly named 'Outside Inn ' in Chadong about half an hour outside of Yangshou. This place was basically half a dozen small converted barns, the main building had a small fire but that was the only heating, the bed clothes were so cold they felt wet!
We cycled from the Outside Inn half an hour to climb one of the limestone casts called Moon Hill. Hard work, but good fun. Afterwards, Terry took us all back to his house to meet his family and cooked us lunch, which was amazing.He told me that he hadn't taken any other groups back to his house before, so to meet his wife, baby daughter and the rest of his family it was a really special afternoon.