Saturday, July 24, 2010

Yangshuo arrival.

Sleeper buses are a bad idea. Tired of taking trains everywhere, I decided to try out this new method of transportation, and at first glance it seemed alright. There were a dozen bunks inside the bus, a clean carpet, TVs (alright, they didn't work), and thick comfy blankets. But once the bus got going, I found that it was impossible to sleep with all the bumping around. I could swear we were going over gravel for the entire ten hours.

What's more, I arrived at my destination at 4 a.m., hours before sunrise. I found my way to the main street of town, which was so eerily quiet that I gave up trying to find a place to stay and sat in a 24-hour McDonald's until daylight (yes, they're everywhere). When the sun came up, I checked into a small hostel on the pedestrianized, tourist-stricken West Street, paying 25 yuan ($3) for a bright and clean dorm room shared with a young Swedish couple.

Bamboo House, my first hostel experience in China.

I spent the rest of the day getting to know the area. Yangshuo is famous among the Chinese for its uniquely shaped mountain formations that thrust their vertical peaks up around the Li River. The main part of Yangshuo is home to a fast-developing tourism industry, but the surrounding countryside is still largely unblemished and beautiful this time of year.

I rented a bike from my hostel for 20 yuan ($2.50) and for the next several hours, rode westward out into rice fields, then looped back towards the town where I then continued riding south along the river.

Later in the day, I went to a restaurant right on West Street with my Swedish roommates, an older French couple, and a young guide from my hostel. We made sure to order pi jiu yu, or beer fish: a whole fish from the river stewed with local beer and the usual garlic, ginger, and scallions.

The foreign women in the group were promptly embroiled in a rousing drinking game with a large group of drunk-and-getting-drunker Chinese outside. Hilarity ensued.

West Street is catered to every taste and whim of a foreign visitor. Cafes, gelato shops, oodles of souvenir stalls, bars, cooking classes, pseudo-Western food, and annoyingly, a disco right underneath my hostel. At night, everything lights up.


Lexie, Little Boat said...

that sounds like a fun city, despite all the tourist-oriented activity! i imagine you had a lot of fun biking!

Eugenia said...

I wonder how the hiking is in the area! Have you ever considered taking an extended hiking trip in China?

justinnhli said...

Genie, Faye:

YangShou is actually famous for another outdoor activity: climbing! I actually just met a friend who has climbed there, and supposedly it's rapidly becoming a hot spot for foreign climbers.

Anyway, hope both of you are doing well.

Faye said...

Genie, Justin: STAY TUNED.

Stu said...

I like how your pictures are doing a lot of the "talking". It gets the point across well