A Travellerspoint blog

Day 19

Pingan

semi-overcast 25 °C

Day 19 - July 2.: In our travel itiniary it only said "Big walk to Pingan". This was a 4 hour hike along the rice terrases which would eventually take us to the next place we were going to stay; the "LiQuing Hotel".

Farmer Tan, our local guide, told us about the area and the local peoples customs as we went along. Fortunately it was overcast so the hike was fairly comfortable. Farmer Tan set the pace just right with a small break at each hilltop.

M. impressed me yet again, manageing to complete the walk even though she hadn't been able to hold down food since the insect sting. That girl is tough :)

Of all places we met a norwegian guy during the walk. He had ridden a bicycle all the way from Oslo, Norway and had been travelling around China since November last year. We were only the second and third norwegians he had met here he told us.

Arriving at the hotel was a pleasant surprise. The style of the building was pretty much the same as the last guesthouse we stayed in, but the walls were more soundproof as well as a higher standard to the bathrooms - they had western wc's. They also had a very varied menu in the restaurant although the size of the burgers were a joke. The bun was probaly a good 10 cm in diameter while the burger was no more than 4 or 5.

And M. managed to keep down her first meal. A definite improvement :)

Posted by atle 22:52 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Day 18

Longji

sunny 28 °C

Day 18 - July 1.: The day started early since we were off to Dazhai (Longji). First we had a 50 minute bus-ride back to Guilin, where we stored our big backpacks at the train-station.

Then we jumped on a public bus which took us most of the way (3 hours) before we changed to a new bus that took us to the end destination (1.5 hours). That last part consisted mostly of very narrow gravel-roads going along the very edge of high cliffs. That the bus was old and moved along very fast didn't exactly calm us westerners that are used to a bit more security. Did I mention that it didn't have any seat-belts either? Not that it would have done us any godd in any case ;)

Even though the trip lasted a while there wasn't a chanse of getting bored since we had large bamboo forrests, waving in the wind, to look at. Back in Norway we have pines and such to look at and they are a bit darker and grimmer. This was more positive and happy in a way. Fluid, just like looking at the ocean :)

When the road ended we had to walk the rest of the way to the guesthouse (Yuebing Mansion Dazhai) which took about 35 minutes. The climb was unfortunately steep and we had to walk quite a few steps to get there. Taking the first steps I could immediately feel the walk from the day before, but it gave away quickly as I got warm. Speaking of warm; the sun was blaring so it didn't take many minutes before we were soaked. So much for the short, effortless walk we were promised.

The guesthouse was what one would call interesting. Three floors of woodhouse (first time we have stayed in something made of wood here in China since they mostly build in concrete or stone). The walls and floors might as well have been made of paper though. You could hear everything that went on in the entire building and it was no problm having a normal conversation with people a couple of rooms away - as we would discover later.

After the sun had gone down in the evening the local people of the rice terrases happened to have "The Festival of Torches" an annual event. Nobody could tell us exactly what the purpose of this festival was, but it was impressing nontheless. They lit hundreds of torches along the rice terrases in addition to great pyres. At the climax they had a quite impressive show of fireworks.

Cockroaches was another experience we had at this guesthouse. Well, the first time we've seen them anyway. In the last couple of places there had been quite a few large and/or jumping spiders to some of the groupmembers dismay.

One of the swedish guys made the mistake of squashing one of them and then it began. We woke up around 2:30 in the morning of screaming and shouting as well as large thumps. We almost laughed our heads off when we heard what was happening. The swedish guys' room got infested and they killed (by use of sandal) somewhere between 40 and 50 cockroaches. Apparently other cockroaches is attracted to the smell of a squashed cockroach so we could at least sleep without worries since all the roaches went to the swedish guys ;)

Posted by atle 22:18 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Day 17

Chaolong

semi-overcast 24 °C

Day 17 - June 30.: This was the day for the "all day bike ride". Basically this meant a 4 hour ride broken up by a break and later; lunch.

We started out going up one side of the river. It was really beautiful there and the road was great for bicycling as it had little car traffic. Every now and then our guide (George) stopped for a "photo-op".

Then M. got stung or bitten on the calf by some insect and the "wound" got really swollen real fast. She also got a headache in addition to feeling cold. M. isn't the person to easily give up so she insisted on continuing along with the rest of us.

After about an hour and a half we arrived at Moon Hill where we had the opportunity to climb to the top. M. didn't feel any better (more the opposite) so she stayed at the restaurant at the bottom with about half the group. The rest of us had an hour to get to the top and back again.

The ascent was really steep and the fact that we had no less than five chinese women at our heels the whole way didn't exactly make us take it slow. These women carried cooler-bags and tried to sell us water and other beverages, the whole way to the top, even though we had brought our own. They didn't take no for an answer either (yes, we tried "boja xie xie" which is chinese for "no thank you") so we had no other choise than to out-pace them. Easier said than done: these women, not one younger than 50, kept us going harder than any personal trainer, and we arrived at the top totally exhausted. Only one of them managed to keep up though. She reached the top about a minute after the rest of us and immediately tried to sell us something again. She would have to get an A for effort anyway ;)

The vertical drop from the top to were we started was 200 meters and the steps quite steep so it was a hard walk. The view however was breathtaking! I know my limits so I skipped the walk to the absolute top (you could go there by a narrow path) and headed down again after a little break.

Well down again we bicycled for another 30 minutes before arrived to the plave where we were to eat lunch. This was actually the home of an elder woman who had lost her husband a couple years ago. In China it is the family who take care of the elder and since they didn't have any kids she struggled to make ends meet. As a way of helping her Intrepid rents her kitchen whenever they have a trip to the area.

It was our local guide who did all the cooking and I must say it was excellent! He probably did 8 or 9 dishes in total, including vegetarian one; all made with fresh ingredients.

After lunch we continued along the river to where we were supposed to cross it. No bridge as with the first crossing, but a dam. What our local guide hadn't calculated with was a lot more water in the river than usual for this time of the year so the crossing became a bit more exciting than we had anticipated ;)Fortunately, for some of us, we wore sandals or flip-flops. Others got their shoes really wet.

The rest of the trip went on pretty uneventful except for one of the girls who managed to run herselfe of the narrow track and ended up in the rice-field.

M. survived the trip as well and she even felt a bit better afterwards. She (claimed) she even enjoyed the trip in spite of having a fever. Well I could believe that one... having a feever does strange things to your mind ;)

Posted by atle 06:45 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Day 15 and 16

Yangshou continued

sunny 26 °C

Day 15 - June 18.: With the morning off me and M. used the time to go look for breakfast. Finding something sililar to bread, bisquits or yoghurt (whithout going to a restaurant) was impossible.

After trawling the major part of the city (it's not that big) we finally found a bakery that had something else than cakes. Here we baught white bread and fortunately not the type that is bathed in sugar. We haven't been able to find dark bread at all in China.

In the evening we went to see bird-fishing. They didn't fish for birds, but used them (cormorants to be exact) to catch fish. It's not that different from hawking except that one fisherman use more than one bird at a time. To prevent the birds from swallowing the fish themselves they tie a string or probably some form of rubber-band around the neck of the bird. This doesn't stop them from swallowing smaller fish so the birds seemed happy. In any other way the birds seemed well treated and it was a fun experience.

Day 16 - June 19.: We started the morning with a one-hour class in caligraphy. It was a bit strange since the teacher picked us up at the hotel by motor-bike (he hired a taxi-bike so we didn't go three people on one bike ;) ). The short trip ended up at his place where we met his wife. The class was conducted in their livingroom.

You can ask yourselfe how much you get out of a one hour class in this subject, and the answer is: not so much. Still; it was an introduction and we had fun - which is all that counts. We learned to use brush and ink to write chinese characters on ricepaper. Some of the things we learned to write was our names, as well as Oslo, Beijing etc. The result was not very pretty to look at (in my case anyway), but there was definite improvement during the lesson. I will definitely continue to practise with a brush when I get home - if not Chinese characters but Japanese. The technique as well as many of the characters are the same.

Afterwards we went to the market where M. baught a set of brushes, some ink-sticks and a stone-pad to grind up the ink and mix it with water. She is quite the bargainer and she got the brushes down from the original 185 quai to just 40 quai. She did the same with the other items too.

After eating lunch the whole group got their bikes and we bicycled the 20 minutes to Chaolong. It was kinda weird to ride a bicycle again since I haven't done it for at least 8 to 10 years, but as they say; old tricks die hard. Soon I was riding without holding the handle-bar. At least until we got to the part where the road changed from asphalt to gravel.

All sweaty (a reocurring theme on this trip) we arrived at "Outside Inn" our next destination. It didn't take long before most of us headed to the river for a swim. The river was really nice and scenic and the passing rain didn't do anything to ruin that.

The really great thing about "Outside Inn", apart from the beautiful location, was a great menu. Both western and chinese food. A good thing since we consumed all our meals there for the duration of the stay.

Posted by atle 02:31 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Day 14

Yangshou

sunny 29 °C

Day 14 - June 26.: We arrived (on time) in Guilin where a 45 minutes busride to Yangshou awaited us. We were actually quite lucky that the bus driver was there because he was asleepe believing the train to be late. In the worst case it would have been as much as three hours to wait for him.

The "Fawlty Towers Hotel" was not much like the one in the TV-series, but still; we will probably remember it because of the name.

The beds were harder than ever - which have been a reocurring theme here in China. I don't know quite why, but every new place we have arrived the beds would be harder than the prevous place (with exception of the trains which has been quite nice). Soon we might as well be sleeping on the floor ;)

Yangshou was built to cater to tourists so it was no surprise that it had a lot of restaurants with western food. I ate some excellent chicken-burritos for dinner - a nice change for noodles and fried rice :)

We did try out a couple of the local "clubs" and "discos" the forst night there, but it was nothing spectacular happening (except for the people snorting coke).

There is nothing historical, like buildings and statues to see in Yangshou, but the landscape is fenomenal. Apparently the whole area was a seabbed ages ago. The land rose and now they have cliffs that rise hundreds of meeters right up from the surrounding land. Much chinese art has been inspired by this.

Posted by atle 00:23 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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