Hello! I'm finally back to school after an almost 2 week exursion all throughout China. I travelled to Guilin and Yangshuo (in Guanxi Province, southern China) with 4 other girls for 4 days. Then we went off to Xi'an and Beijing with my program for 7 days. Guilin and Yangshuo were absolutely beautiful and fun. The first night, we all stayed in Guilin at a hostel. We went to dinner and tried the local specialty, beer fish, which was fantastic! The next day, I went off on my own to Yangshuo. I took a van to a remote part of the Lee River, inside the beautiful Karsts of the area. I got on a small bamboo raft and took the 4 hour ride (only by river) to Yangshuo. The trip was stunning and so relaxing. I had many conversations with my bamboo paddler, all in Chinese! He was a very nice man, and very helpful telling me the names of the different mountains and pointing out important sights as we passed them. Halfway through the ride, we stopped at a small local restraunt to have lunch. I was alone, so another traveller (from Taiwan) sat with me, and although there were communication barriers, it was still pleseant to sit with somebody. The owner of the restraunt gave me the biggest plate of fried rice I've ever seen, and I was only able to finish about one quarter of it. There were roosters and chickens walking around outside and there were old men and women sitting on the sidewalk waiting for someone to buy their fruit or crafts. This was definitely a remote stop, but it was quite and relaxing so i enjoyed it. We set out again on the raft, and right at the end, I saw the same site that appears on a Chinese Yuan bill. The bamboo man dropped me off and I took this tiny wagon, with no doors or seatbelts, down a thin dirt road to get to Xingping, on the other side of the river. This ride was by far the worst, and I definitly prayed for my life the whole time. Drivers in China do not understand the concepts of lanes and safety. Finally, I got to Xingping, and I took yet another bus from there to Yangshuo, which lasted about an hour. Around 4pm I found my way to Yangshuo and was pleasantly surprised how much I liked this town. It was quieter and very cute. Right on the Li River, Yangshuo feels like a small ancient Chinese paradise. There were a lot of foreigners there, which in turn, meant higher prices, more shops, and many western restaurants. It came alive at night, with pretty lights and fun bars up and down every street. I checked into my hotel, and decided to see the famous Impression show. This was directed by the same man who directed the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics! The show was stunning and so powerful and amazing! It was an outdoor show, right on the Li River with the mountains right behind it. The entire show was actually on the river. There were bamboo raft dances, minority chants, and little kids singing. The show had 600 performers in it. After it ended, I met this older lady from London and she told me all about her travels and experiences. She decided to take 6 months off of work and travel the world. Now wouldn't that be a life! I went back to my hotel after that and went to sleep early.
The next day I woke up at 6am and went on a 3 hour busride to Longsheng, China to see the famous Lonji Rice Terraces. I met a girl on the bus from San Fransisco, who works in Beijing for a company that teaches professionals English. She had her parents with her who were visiting and travelling around China. I ended up sticking with them for most of the day. We rode into the mountains and stopped in this tiny village. We had to switch buses to get into the village and once we did, we stopped in a small minority village of the Yao people. The girls are famous for their long hair, about 2 meters, so we watched a culture show with the Yao girls and boys. It was very interesting and funny. They included the audience and served us interesting snacks that I didn't enjoy very much. At the end as we left the building, we payed 1 yuan, took a small shot of their local alcohol, and ran through two lines of the Yao girls as they pinched our buts on the way out. It was very strange but also very fun! From there, we crossed a very wobbley bridge back to the bus. We drove even higher into the mountains and got to our final destination. We had lunch at a local restraunt, which consisted of fried pea sprouts and rubbery mushrooms. I finished and started to hike up to the top of the village to see the views of the rice terraces. Once I got there, i had the most beautiful view of all of the rice terraces around me and the tall mountains behind them. The terraces were in harvest, since it is Autumn, so the fields were turning from green to golden.
After the 3 hour bus ride back to Yangshuo, my friends had already arrived there to meet me and spend the last night of our stay in Yangshuo. When I got back, the city had completely changed. Because it was a national holiday (Mid Autumn Festival and the 60th Anniversity of the PRC), the city blew up with tourists and visitors. I had a hard time finding my way around the town with this many people. Finally, we found our hostel, it was in a small alley, and settled in. We went out to dinner for beer fish and walked around the town, shopping and people watching. We went to a park that was all lit with chinese lanterns and walked around there for a while. The next day, we had breakfast and decided to rent mopeds and ride them outside of Yangshuo. The other girls met this guy, Cliff, from Brookeland, ny. He was quite a character and told us crazy stories and jokes. He is travelling to 40 countries in 9 months and is an amazing photographer. He is putting together a music video to JaiHo from the slumdog millionaire. In the video will be a scene of people he has met dancing to the JaiHo choreography from every city he will have been to. I am in two of these and they will be on Youtube in 9 months!! We also met a girl from Indonesia called Ferline. She is an artist and a foreign student in Kunming. It was cool to randomly meet two people and spend all day with them. The moped ride was amazing and we went to the most beautiful parts of rural Yangshuo. Gina and I were on the moped together and she drove the whole time. We were on thin dirt roads and it was pretty dangerous riding through the mountains, but it was incredibly fun! We finally made it back to Yangshuo, got our things together, and took a bus back to Guilin. From Guilin, we took another bus to the airport, and headed back to Nanjing.
I had a great trip and it felt good to travel on my own and see some of the most beautiful scenery of China.