Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Yangshuo

I had tied to buy a ticket to Yangshuo from Wuzhou but the lady at the ticket window told me "no Yangshuo" when trying to buy the ticket. I walked away from the window and thought a minute got my guidebook out and went back to the ticket window the page open to Guilin. They said yes and bought a ticket to Guilin which is suppose to be an hour or so past Yangshuo. The following morning I was surprised after 20 minutes or so on the bus a lady came around asking at least the westerners "Yangshuo?" All of the westerns (3 Dutchmen and me) got off in Yangshuo.

The bus ride was a small taste of scenery in and around Yangshuo. There are all of these really striking hill or rock formations. As I am writing this entry I have not gone through all my photos but hope I find a few of the 100s that I seem to have taken of this area that I like. The picture on the back of the 20 Yuan bill is from the Li River around the Yangshuo area. I have now been to the setting for the back of the current 1, 10, 20 and 100 Yuan bills while in China. I will not make it to see the settings for the back 5 or 50 bill.

I found the place I had booked a room in Yangshuo with little trouble which after I found it was a real surprise to me. I had not seen any street signs so walked followed the map thinking I was on this street or that street and come to find out none of the streets that I was walking on were not on the map in the book or on the directions I wrote down that came from the hotel. The book map only covered a real small part of the city and where the bus dropped me off was about 3 times the size of the map away.

I was just sort of walking around the city a little bit getting to know my way around and was down by the river when some people ask me for some help with English. They had an article on the problems that Air Bus is currently having and wanted me to explain some of the words and the meaning of some of the sentences. I did not look where the article was from but I think the person that wrote the article had used a thesaurus and did not want to use the same word twice in the article. I still don't know a good way to explain manifestation to someone. After spending a bit of time going through the article one of them offered to some me the way to the dragon bridge the following day so he could practice his English. I told him he did not really need any practice since the article he was reading was over my head. I still don't know if he really wanted to practice his English or just wanted to make money off of me some way. I have learned that usually if somebody is speaking really good English and says they want to practice English they are out to make money some way and practicing English is just a way to hook me or other tourist.

The next day I bought a map and rented a bike from the place I was staying and got a short description of the different bike paths around the Yangshuo area. The lady told me this is a 6 hours way and this is a 5 hours way and this one should take you 7 hours and then this one should take 3 hours. Guess what the 3 hour one sounded the best to me. I headed out on the bike and now I am sure I got the first 15 minutes of the 3 hour route correct but after that I was on one of the much longer routes. After about 45 minutes on a dirt road I was pretty sure I was on the wrong path but figured I was way under the 2 hours she told me it would take to get to the main road so figured I would just keep going and when I was tired I would turn around and go back the way I came.



I seemed to be the only biker on this road but saw a bus every now and then and tried to make out the charters of where the bus was coming from so I could get some idea of which road I was on. I also checked my compass every time I would stop to take a picture just to know what directions I was headed in. I finally found the charters on the bus on my map and was headed in the direction of a town called Puyi. I figured I was no where close to this town since it had to be one of the 7 hour rides but then came to a sign that said Puyi was 5 something straight ahead. I looked up kilometers later in a English to Chinese dictionary and that is what the something after the 5 meant.

It had been a month since I had been on a bike and over 2 months since I had been on a decent bike and it was still feeling good so I kept going straight but did not really want to go to Puyi. After a few more minutes I came across a brand new highway. I saw some motorcycles and trucks pulling on the highway even though it was apparent it was not yet open. It seemed to be going the direction I thought I wanted to go and so I pulled up on it and rode a bit and then stopped to look at the map again. One of guys working on the new highway saw me looking at the map and said Yangshuo and pointed on down the highway in the direction I had been riding.



I felt I was heading in the right direction and kept riding and enjoyed the easy riding on the new blacktop and having about 4 lanes all to myself. I stopped at one point to take some more pictures of the hills and when I turned around in the other directions found some of the workmen posing for a picture.



I saw one of the workmen walking down the highway carrying something. When we got closer to each other I could see he was carrying 6 turtles hung on a rope 3 in each hand. I found this sort of funny and I think he offered to give me one.
Shortly after the picture of the workmen I came to a point where the new highway went off to the south and there was a path off to the west which is the direction I thought I want to go. I headed west and caught a Chinese guy on a bike and said Yangshuo and pointed in the direction we where going and he nodded yes so I rode on until I saw Moon Hill.



Moon Hill was on my map and now I was further west than I thought I had ridden and at least 2 times further south then the 3 hour ride. At the fork in the road there was a stand selling cold drinks so I bought some water and said Yangshuo and the lady pointed to the right and off I went. This was the first time since the first few minutes of the ride where I was sure where I was on the map and I was on the road going north to Yangshuo. After a while I came to a bridge that was suppose to be the southern most part of the 3 hour ride so I decided to follow the 3 hour path that went along the river rather then follow the main road back into Yangshou. The path had some really pretty scenery and well worth taking the little bit longer way into town.

The path did get really narrow at times only about 8 inches wide. It also was really rocky. I would say this is the only time I have done anything close to mountain biking. I also had to wade through a bunch of weeds at one point where a farmer's cart was blocking the path.



I made it back to the hotel about 5 hours after leaving it and the lady seemed really surprised when I talked about where I had ridden.

I wanted to give my legs a day off from the bike and then ride another day around Yangshuo so I walked down to the river and set and tried to do some reading. I met some students that had come to Yangshuo to practice their English. I spent a lot of the day with a pair of girls talking. It was sort of funny one girl would not really talk at all and the other one talked all the time. She seemed to want the practice talking not listening.



They did tell me about Guilin noodles. The noodles in this part of China are made from rice rather than flour and they thought I should try them so we went to lunch together. We walked a bit of a ways because all the noodle places close were too expensive at 4 Yuan when the place we went they were 2.5 Yuan. I enjoyed the noodles but don't think I tasted the difference in the noodles from the flour ones.

My last full day in Yangshuo I wanted to spend on a bike and try to find the dragon bridge. I had a better idea on where I was riding since I had covered some of the ground 2 days before. I made it on the road to the bridge and had people point the way to me at different points on the way. At one point I seemed to pick up a guide on a bike that would tell me this way or that way. The way we rode did not seem to be the shortest way going off the road to ride through some of the villages and down closer to the river.



It took a while but I finally made it to Dragon Bridge. Here is where my guide that had not ask if I wanted a guide wanted to make money off of me by selling me a bamboo boat ride back to Yangshuo. I did not really want to take a boat back but ride my bike but still ask how much and the starting price was 180 Yuan. I have now found something that seems to really piss off the sales people here it is to ask how much and then never give them counter price. I have 3 people seem upset with me because I asked a price and then just say "no thank you" after that. They come down on the price but all I say is "no thank you" They will ask me how much and all I keep saying is no thank you and for some reason this really upsets them. I think I should do this more often to the annoying sales people.

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