Day 13. Yangshuo, Guanxi. Total travel time 48 Hours.
The title of this is cause, China is LOUD. Every thirty seconds some idiot hoots there horn for often no apparent reason.
I can access blogspot/facebook only because my hostel as a proxy running. Goodtimes.
Right formalities over with. Hello!
I guess i should start with a im safe and well, theres no earthquake in china (actually there was on the 2nd of feb in Yunnan, where im going next....that hasn't been reported in the uk...) or tsunami warnings, im too far inland for that anyway, although Nicola is on the coast and may have had a tsunami i don't know
I arrived in Hong Kong after a pleasant flight, i watched - Black Swan, the Expendables and RED. After not having noticed we'd landed (seriously) I got to my miniscule room, in the lovely warm bustle of the nuttiness that is Nathan Road Kowloon. When im not being sold "Suit--Watch-Hashish???" (the logcical step from a watch) I was busy avoiding cars/people. Anyway I watched light show and ate some food. Found a bar, sponsored by San miguel(not the spanish one). Staff here actually had matching outfits supplied by this company, they sorta looked like cheerleaders for beer, and radioed your order to the bar and then it appeared. I also saw two guys carry a cocktail as if it was the most delicate thing ever. Anyway enough bar talk...
Next day I sailed to Lantau and went to the big Buddha and climbed all the way up, on a bus. Got the Cable car back down, this was an epicly long cable car btw.Metro'd it home and over to aberdeen, which was a bit disappointing tbh. Quick trip home and then pub crawl with other expats. This was fun and ended up in a club some 20 floors up in some tall building. Slept too late for Macao (jetlag) and so relaxed and booked my train to Guanzhou where China really begins...
Guanzhou, well first impressions, its big, dirty and busy - everything wrong with China. However After a wash and chilling in my comparitively massive mansion of a room I explored, I warmed a little to Guanzhou. I walked along the less busy and nicely marbled waterfront, catching in the lights and bridges. The lighting as with most in china, is Neon and garish, it does make for nice photos(see later). I also explored Shamian island,. an old colonial concession with western buildings and a park. People come here in the evening to practice Tai Chi and Kung Fu. GZ offers some temples, which are like nearly all temples, however they do offer nice relief from the insanely busy roads. The mosque I couldn't enter but the grey minaret was a nice landmark. You know your near the temples because the number of hawkers and beggars nearly tripples. If anyone thinks the NHS isn't great, go to China and be horrified, I shan't digress but i've seen some messed up stuff already. Evenings I went on a river cruise which was quite fun and showed just how big GZ is, more neon'd buildings and an empty stadium with 4 huge screens all on. A huge waste of electricity! Anyway time to leave, little mix up with times meant I had to wait till 8pm, rather than 11am. But ten hours on a bus with a bed too...
Xiamen. Arriving at the silly hour of five am I found a place to have some breakfast, some dumplings. When the reasonable time of half six came around I rang my host and got the information on where to go. First impression of Xiamen were, its everything Guanzhou isn't, clean, less busy and by the sea. Hopefully Nicola doesn't mind me saying that her house was lovely. Tradtional Chinese affair with a open air courtyard, and two lovely dogs; Barry the licker(licked everything) and Shaoxingma (i've no idea how its spelt). Anyway eventually I got up and went to look at a big gun, used for repelling the English apparently, I commented to MuMu0 (again no idea of the spelling) Nicola's boyfriend that it wasn't doing a very good job. After this lunchtime, I had a chinese hamburger! amongst other things. Afternoon I climbed, Nantuo Sho temples hill, for excellent views of Xiament and the South China sea. Then I crossed in to the Botanical Garden(for free) and saw some Cactus' and Redwoods (laid by Nixon) Then a park, based on Central Park(it seemed to me) the first park I didn't have to pay to get in. Long walk home via a beer on the beach at sundown. Dinner was a Chinese BBQ cooked in the courtyard, many people came over, chinese and westerners alike, songs were sang and beer was drank.
Slow day, haad dim sum for lunch/breakfast - some odd things and some gross things (fish stomach). Then Gulangyu island, another one of those old foreign hangouts. With western buildings and a rubbish aquarium. I should have known, it had fake fish. Evening was fish food and a foot massage, oh also some guy fixed my the massive hole in my shoe for a pound, which Nicola said was too much. On the way home we stopped in a 'private temple' for a beer - YUP. It'd be like if you built a church for just your family as people do, then said hey were not using this place 99% of the time, lets turn it in to a bar.
Left Xiamen for Guilin on a 17 hour bus journey - complete with bed and films. Ate some Blueberry flavoured crisps, actually pretty good.
Gulin - comparitively quiet and set in the middle of Guanxi, this is where the picturesque chinese scenery starts with huge Karst jetting out. I climbed two within the city, and then went to the park which housed about seven. (They had another presidential visit, this time Clinton) There were excellent views and this has probably been the best view/thing so far.... until today actually. Firstly Guilin ended with me sat in a bar on my own, there just was nobody around... anyway time to leave....
Yangshuo (where I am now) I have four days here to just chill and do things. Situated smack bang on the Li River its a hangout for everyone really, but more importantly it has bars with people in them :p Think Dali jacob/Dave but a bit busier and bigger. Actually Im really here for the impressive Karst scenery*. They are literally everywhere, particuarly looked good today with mist surrounding them. The river is also flat and full of bamboo rafts. I should cruising it tomorrow or the next day. I arrived yesterday and orientated myself, and as a loner what happens is people occasionally come and sit and talk with me, this time quite a switched on Chinese guy whose friends as he put it were "being boring in the hotel still". Anyway we shared some beer and a rarity discussed politics and economics. Quite nice to see him bring up the topic on what is usually a taboo subject in china. Today I rented a bike and cycled through the scenery, stopping at The Bunyan tree, where I inadvertantly bought a ticket to do some punting of my own on the river. This turned out pretty fun and tiring, some chinese folk wanted me to take a picture with them, and as I was rubbish at punting I couldn't escape and they boarded my bamboo boat. Then I ascended Half Moon Karst, for probably the best views so far, topping Guilin. I cycled home off the road along a muddy path via vice paddies and water buffalo. I wouldn't say I got lost along the way but more Hitchiker style I just didn't know exactly where I was.
*For Rosy, these Karst are basically the home of climbing in China. There are quite a few climbing shops in Yangshuo, and there was a plaque on Half Moon dedicated to some americans who established routes in the 90s.
This brings me to here, I was going to write some cultural stuff about tv and music - mostly about how rubbish it is.
Still to come.... here it is a detailed Itinerary...
Yangshuo - a couple more days here, going to sail the river, watch some fishing and generally mingle with the expats.
Kunming - a short stay here on the way to remoter Yunnan, its the train station. Then on to Dali for some more western style drinkin, lakeside cycling, then Lijiang as a base to walk Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Here I am unsure as to try an ascend Xumei Shan as well.
After Yunnan it'll be time to head to Sichuan to visit Dafo, Le Shan(biggest carved buddha) and then Chengdu, home of the Pandas.
From Sichuan, I will most likely stop off in Xi'an again, then to Tai Shan to climb another buddhist mountain, and live to 108 years old( so the legend says)
before finally getting to Qingdao and sailing off to Korea.
Anyway, time to go and enjoy the cheap (but weak) beer and some food. They sell all western food here, including pizza, which is surprising as Cheese is so expensive. Tomorrow I will have a steak.
I'll leave you with some photos... actually this failed. My bad.