I’ve fallen well behind here. I have various uninteresting excuses. All I can do is humbly apologise to my long-suffering readership (Hi mum and dad!) and do a wee catch-up.
Last I left I had just returned from the Philippines with the intention of not writing about the trip until I had finished compiling the copious amounts of footage Mike and myself created on the trip. Turns out this is an epic task I haven’t found the time to complete yet. Rest assured it’s coming, I’ll do anything for another 10 YouTube views. I feel a post about that place may be more appropriate when the video is done though, skip that.
Since then there have been various occurrences, perhaps some of them notable.
Trip to Wuyishan, parents visited, went to Beijing and now I’m in Yangshuo.
I’m gonna mess with some chronology here, I heard people are into that since Pulp Fiction.
Yangshuo is hyped up quite a lot. I’d seen the photos, heard various testimonials as to it’s incredible scenery. But I prepared myself for disappointment, I’ve seen other, potentially, very beautiful areas of China suffer hugely from being altered for tourists. (cough, Wuyishan, cough)
Despite the best efforts of some of the economy/ecology board here they have conspicuously failed to ruin this place. Yangshuo itself is pretty built up and western and comes with all the trappings of such a place. For myself it is quite a nice change, to be able to eat western food and drink western beer etc. I can see how a traveller, coming for an authentic Chinese experience could be a little disappointed. I’m just happy to have not seen a dumpling for 4 days. There are some nice bars, given that there is not a lot else to do in the evening I’ve frequented quite a few.
Apparently last night I committed to hosting a pub quiz at one of them tonight, that could be interesting. The entirety of last night was great actually. Maybe this seems a little … off … but I quite enjoy just going out somewhere new on my own and seeing what happens. Have one drink at one place and only stay for more if something interesting happens. At Monkey Jane’s a Chinese man got so drunk he smashed a bottle and threatened the guy who beat him at beer pong. We locked him in the toilet until the police arrived and I bought a second beer. After that I went to a chinese club where a man who called himself ‘Samsung’ asked me if I wanted to invest in a swimming pool. I didn’t even finish one beer there. Lastly I went to a Reggae bar where some lovely Israeli travellers were hanging out listening to ‘The Bug’. Many beverages were had. This is the only way to do it on your own, I feel, or you resign yourself to unpacking or doing washing or something equally horrendous.
The scenery is breathtaking, even from the town itself. It is genuinely other-worldly, especially with a bit of haze it seems like the karsk peaks go on forever. Actually, they do go damn far. One big misconception I had was that the peaks were confined to a small area, like a little park or something. But no, the whole landscape here for miles around is littered with them, to the point where you have nameless incongruous limestone stacks littered all over the landscape that, anywhere else, would be major tourist attractions if they were alone. It’s gorgeous.
It didn’t really become overwhelming, though, until you can get away from the buildings and people and find a quiet valley. Yesterday I went out on a bike, on a fairly popular route, but strayed off after reaching the Dragon Bridge towards the end into a valley someone had recommended to me the night before. (Thanks again, bars. Thars.)
I didn’t see any tourists for 3 hours, just a few farmers. It was incredible, thoroughly recommended. BikeAsia provide really good bikes for about 70 yuan, with a deposit. It’s a bit more than you pay elsewhere but I don’t think I’d have managed the dirt track so well without the suspension, especially for the route back over the ridge.
Cracking stuff. I still have some days left, I’m hoping to catch the sunrise/set one day when it is clear from the TV peak. I think tomorrow I will head north to some of the villages there and see whats going on. Probably loads of Chinese-y stuff, it’ll be great.