YangshouOctober 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.
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.
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.Read more