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9 travelers at this place

  • Day9


    October 9, 2014 in China ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Let me start off by saying sorry for falling behind on my blog. I'm very much still alive (cue a few groans).
    I'm now in Japan so as I write this I might refer to some things that happened in Shanghai, Korea (no need to specify as I technically visited North & South Korea) and Tokyo.

    I'm also going to try a different style and write this blog as a diary. Let me know if it works.

    Day 1:
    To get to Yangshou I had to catch the bus from Guilin. From my experience so far on this trip, due to the language barrier you never really know where you're going to eventually end up. As soon as I arrived at the bus station a women screamed at me "YANGSHOU!". I think my massive rucksack (which seems to be getting heavier even though I've not bought anything) gave me away. She charged what I was expecting so I jumped on board and hoped for the best. They had a Jackie Chan film on which was in English so I was kept amused for the next hour, checking my GPS every so often to make sure I was on the right bus. Can you imagine travelling 20-30 years ago? It must have been so much more difficult to get by. I would have no app to translate conversations with locals, no app to track where I was going incase I was unknowingly being kidnapped. Big respect to the early travellers.

    So I arrived in Yangshou and thought I could walk from the bus station to the hostel. How wrong was I? I only made it 5 mins until I approached a huge round about and didn't know which exit to take. So I rang the hostel for help and she said to just jump into a moto taxi as it was late. Where can I find a moto taxi? There were loads at the bus station shouting for my attention but now I can't see any. I was too proud / embarrassed to walk back to the bus station so I continued forward hoping one would drive by and by luck found a rickshaw at the petrol station. Cue a classic "you've been framed" moment, I go to sit in the back and didn't realise there wasn't enough clearance for me and my huge backpack. So I stepped up into the rickshaw and bounced right back out, for a moment I did my best impression of a turtle on its back. I eventually made it in and the driver to knew a shortcut to the hostel. It was through a back breaking cobbled road and this rickshaw had no suspension. But I made it and went straight to bed.

    Day 2:
    As I travelled during the night I never got to see the scenery so when I eventually got out of bed I was pleasantly surprised. This is exactly what I needed after a hectic time in Beijing.

    I spent the morning planning my time in Yangshou and I could hear a thick brummie accent behind me. I turned round to ask how long they had been in Yangshou and what I should do whilst I was hear. The brummie guy was called Sam and he was with his Geordie mate Cam and they were chatting to these 2 Swedish girls. They had come to Yangshou to rock climb. Apparently this is THE place to be for rock climbing. I had never done it before but I added it to my list of things to do. The other thing they said was grab a bike and wonder in and around town, I knew already I was going to love this place if I could get my hands on 2 wheels.

    The 2 lads from England were with another 2 mates, Scouser Will and Brummie Rich. Their trip was really interesting. They were cycling from Europe to Asia via counties like Tajikistan. Awesome trip right? They never planned to come to Yangshou but their bikes had been confiscated when they got to China as they had a camping stove and didn't know where or when they would be getting them back. But as they all loved rock climbing they decided to come here.

    So my first full day I just planned to walk around town. I normally do this when I arrive in each new place, get familiar with my surroundings, memorise the route in case I get very drunk. This place was small. I managed to do about 5 circuits of this place. This was nice as Beijing was huge! This place was a bit touristy but after not seeing many backpackers in Beijing it was kind of nice to see some white faces. I sat down in a cafe and got chatting to a German girl (amazingly hot!) and a Nordic girl to get some ideas about what to do. The German girl told me to check out a club where she drank 10 different shots in 5 mins. And we're talking about proper shots, no schnapps in site. The German stereotype reigns true.
    I kept wondering around and worked up another appetite. In this cafe was an Indian couple I thought were in they're late 40's. It turned out they were in their 60's! The cafe owner didn't believe them so they whipped out their passport which was covered with stamps. These guys were well travelled. I asked them about their trips and they have done some incredible trails, like Machu Picu and the Annapurnna circuit. I had never heard of it before but then a few days later there was that awful story about the snow storm. They claim it's better than Machu Picu so I'll have to check it out but maybe in the summer when there's less chance of a snow storm. They were a sweet couple, cultured, well educated and well travelled. I had a lot of admiration for these two. Especially as the women thought I was still at university and that I didn't look anywhere near my age. Before they left they wrote on the wall (it's common for guests to write on hostel/cafe walls). He wrote in Latin and she wrote in Sanscript. Incredible!

    I headed back to the hostel and the British guys invited me to go out with them for dinner. Before we left Sam was chatting to a girl who was sitting on her own and invited her out too. So Rich took us to the "claypot". He had been eating here for the last few nights and I think he qualified as a regular. He explained that you pick 2 meats and 2 veg from the list which they put on top of some rice in a claypot. I can't remember exactly the cost of the meal but it was dirt cheap and the 660ml of local beer was only 60p. I can see why Rich came here most nights. The little kid that came round to take our order didn't seem to speak English so we used a chopstick as a pointer. I later found out it's rude to point with your chopstick. Typical foreigners.

    Over dinner I got to know Jana, a girl from Utah (born in the Czech Republic). She had been travelling for a year and was coming towards the end of her trip. I only knew Utah for Mormons but the state sounds beautiful and a great place to hike and cycle.

    I told the guys that I was going to book a half day climbing in a couple days time as it was cheap but Sam and Rich offered to take me for free as Cam and Will were planning to take a day off climbing so they had some spare gear. Such a generous offer. Jana was interested too as she was quite outdoorsy.

    We then went for a quick drink to meet up with someone Will knew. As Rich had some clothes in the same crates that were confiscated he went to a bar to get a free t-shirt for writing a review on TripAdvisor. So I joined Rich and Sam for another beer at this place. Unfortunately for Rich his review hadn't gone up yet so no t-shirt. But I got to know a bit more about the two of them. They were genuinely two well natured lads and cool to chill out with.

    Ah crap this blog has a word limit. I'll have to finish this off in a separate blog. I love to waffle.
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    You didn't tell me the turtle on its back story. Pretty great :)

  • Day11


    October 11, 2014 in China ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Blog continued (we're on Day 3 in case you forgot or fell asleep out of sheer boredom)...

    We ended up getting shafted on the price. Her maths didn't make sense but with the language barrier we ended up paying her what she wanted. We made it to the end to be reunited with our bikes. We didn't want to go straight back to the hostel so we decided to bike to Moon Hill. Again it was so nice to cycle through the gorgeous countryside with the sunsetting behind the green peeks.

    We made it to Moon Hill with an hour to go before the park closed and the light was fading quickly. We had to race up the many stairs to the viewing platform. The view was really underwhelming but Rich mentioned that there's a path you can take to get right to the top of the hill so being the gent that I am I let Jana lead the way. It wasn't a tough hike and the view was so much better than the official viewing platform. As we climbed down, the light had completely faded and it was getting really tough to see the stairs ahead of us. Luckily I had 2 torches on me. Jana decided to talk about horror movies whilst pitch black outside until we heard a rustle in the trees which freaked us out and quickly ended that topic.

    We had a 30 minute nerve racking journey home cycling on the side of the major road with hardly any light. But we got back and rewarded ourselves with a Snickers bar then another claypot for dinner with the other lads. Jana decided against the claypot and chose the spicy beef which in this place means slices of cooked beef with a million whole peppers thrown on the plate. Whilst eating there was a guy dressed as MJ walking around town with a giant speaker on wheels. I was curious to see his act and I got my chance on the way home where MJ was sitting down on his arse looking very bored with MJ songs blaring out of the speakers. Not even a hint of a moonwalk or a squeezed crotch.

    Day 4:
    So today was rock climbing day. I gave Sam and Rich enough opportunities to back out but they were quite looking forward to it. They took us to the Swiss Cheese wall as it was good for beginners. I had never climbed before and the lads advice was just to relax and climb. I was hoping for some technical help but they were right. You just climb and you naturally find somewhere to put your hands and feet. During the first climb whilst I was midway up they decided to tell me they learnt how to climb from a guy called Captain Catastrophe who got his name for always being accident prone. Not what I needed to hear halfway up the wall. I made it to the top and made it to the top of the 2nd climb. It was going quite well. So the lads decided to step it up and took us to a much higher, polished (new term I learnt, means smoothed wall from erosion, basically a bitch to hold onto). I gave myself the minimum target of getting at least halfway on each climb which I successfully did. But Jana beat me each time. She was a much better climber than me and could see more places to hold than I could. It was such a fun morning. I'd much rather do something active like climbing and cycling than going to see temples.

    My travel buddy Jana left that evening for Japan which was a shame. Travelling is so much better when you're with someone.

    So that evening I went out with the lads as they were allowing themselves for a big night. They normally don't drink too much so they can climb the next day. First we went to the claypot, standard, then to McDonald's for a coffee. I grabbed a patty from the vendor next door that has a sign saying they won't serve Japanese people. Racism is not subtle at this joint. We then headed to Monkey Jane's bar as they had a beer pong tournament and a chance to beat Monkey Jane and win t-shirt.

    First up was Sam. We were told by Aussie barman that it's best to go first as Monkey Jane takes a while to warm up. And you know what it's true. Although it was a close game, Sam came out victorious and got the t-shirt he really wanted. What made me laugh was Monkey Jane said she the doctor told her not to drink. That lasted all of 3 rounds!

    So it turns out Monkey Jane quite fancied Cam and wasn't shy about it. The whole night poor Cam was being hugged and groped by this large Chinese lady. She might of fancied him but she didn't let him win at beer pong. Rich lost too. Ah nuts, I'm up last and Monkey Jane is in full flow.

    I can't go into massive detail about my game because I can't remember a lot of it. But we had a close game. I used Cam as a distraction when Monkey Jane was up to put her off. And it worked. I won! I've got the t-shirt to prove it.

    We then played a few more rounds of doubles. Rich and a Chinese girl, Melinda, formed a formidable partnership. I think they won something like 5/6 rounds in a row. A lot of beer was consumed. Rich fell asleep on the sofa whilst the rest of us played poker with Monkey Jane, her Tibeten friend Tuko, and this odd English Guy that turned up really late. My luck ran out at the beer pong table and I was out pretty early.

    Melinda took a bit of a liking to her beer pong partner but he was sound asleep. She sat next to him for most of the night but she eventually got fed up of waiting. We all ended up joining Rich and fell asleep on the sofa. During this time Monkey Jane was trying her best to get Cam to go to bed with her. He literally did a runner when he got to the door. The rest of us decided to kip on the sofa for the night.

    As you can tell from my long post, I loved Yangshou. I met some great people, did some fun activities, partied and all of this was in a beautiful setting. This is why I decided to travel. For moments like these.

    Me and Sam agreed that China can be described as very weird but fun.
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  • Day10


    October 10, 2014 in China ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Day 3:
    Over breakfast I chatted with Jana who suggested having the omelette with ham, mushrooms and tomatoes in the middle. It was amazing! I'll definitely be making that when I get back to England though I might throw in some chorizo (Bollam and Penelope know how much I love chorizo). I was deciding what route to cycle. Most people cycle up the Li river and take a bamboo raft back into Yangshou. Jana said she looked into it but it was quite expensive to take a raft for one person and the Youlong was cheaper. Jana was planning to cycle to the tea plantation which was near the same route as the cycle route to the River Youlong. And after a lot of faffing around on my part I decided to do the Youlong route and asked Jana if she wanted to join me and that we could take a detour and go via the tea plantation and take a trip on a bamboo raft which was cheaper with the 2 of us. I asked the girl at reception about how we would take a detour and I was met with a direct "no!" The Chinese are funny like this. Do anything outside the normal process and you're met with a very direct "no". It was like the dude at the rice terraces when we asked about skipping the cable cars. He ended up being right. I don't think they mean to come across so direct, I think it's mainly down to the language barrier. She said it was too steep, but surely that's subjective. But then she said she did it once by moped and wanted to die. Extreme but OK I'll trust her this time. She gave us a bunch of photos with directions to get us there and off we went.

    Getting out amongst the karst mountains was amazing. It was so beautiful and tranquil. It was nice to be away from all the touristy stuff and cycle through all the little villages. I also got a chance to get to know Jana better. I can't remember exactly what we talked about but we were just chatting about our travels and life back home. She was really easy to get on with. Definitely a good travel buddy and made cycling this route far more enjoyable than if I did it on my own. Minus a couple wrong turns we made it to the raft. At first we weren't entirely sure if we were in the right place or if someone was going to steel our bikes (they load it onto a truck and drive it down to your end destination). Sod it we'd just go with it and see what happens. We bought 2 random things from the vendor, it's all they had left and jumped onto the raft. We tucked into this giant dumpling which turned out to be like a Chinese doughnut with really sweet sugar in the middle. And we had this green jelly stuff which for the life of me would not come off my finger. It didn't taste of much. It was relaxing to take in the surroundings at super slow speed, there must be hundreds of these karst mountains. But as we got further down the river there was a drop in front of us. How is our raft going to avoid that? Oh wait it doesn't. It goes straight over it going front first and drenching my feet. This was the first of many steps in the river on the way down. I'll post a video of this later so you know what I mean. Totally unexpected but was fun. As we got closer to the end our steerer/punter/captain? asked if we wanted some fish from this women on the raft. Why not?

    Reached another word limit...
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Shibanqiao, 石板桥