Friday, June 4, 2010

Karst Biking, Starfish Eating

Kyla just left earlier this week after a pretty amazing visit. I'm so glad she was able to come.

We did a lot. After touring Shanghai for a few days, we headed down to Yangshou so I could prove to K that not all air in China is polluted. The topography in Yangshuo is incredibly unique. There are karst formations all over the world, but I cant think of many that are so heavily forested as those in Yangshuo. Yangshuo is super touristy, but for good reason. It's beautiful, and has tons to do.

View from the hostel:

Our first day it rained pretty heavily, so we got accustomed to our hostel and signed up for a cooking class. We stayed at the same place my friends stayed at last semester. Monkey Jane's is definitely a good place to meet people, and has a pretty unbeatable view. I even met someone from GW. Our cooking class was all foreigners (like most of Yangshuo) and majority American. It was a friendly, if eclectic group. We learned how to make Guangxi food, which was mostly stir fries with oyster sauce, but we did make egg wrap dumplings which was an exciting first experience for me. Prior to cooking we went to the farmer's market to buy our ingredients. I didn't get a picture of the dog cages, but I'll assure you they were sad.

Cooking class:

The next day we went to visit the water caves. The caves in Yangshuo were absolutely amazing. I don't think I've ever been in such large caverns before. We went on about an hour long walking tour where we were allowed to do things that would cause the EPA to faint. Kyla, Shavan and I felt too guilty to shimmy up stalagmites and traipse about through protected caverns, but the other tourists on our walking tour did not experience such heistation. Also during this walking tour, I attempted to translate the guide for Shavan and Kyla and learned a lot of important new vocab, like mammoth and jellyfish.

After the tour of the caves, we had the chance to play in the mud bath and then sit in the hot springs. The mud bath was goopy. I really can't think of a better word to describe it. Thick goop. A bit shallow, and so gross. But fun. The hot springs were amazing! When I've been to hot springs in the past, they've been man-made enclosures, usually about kiddie pool sized. These were natural shelves built into a cliff, each housing a small pool that fit one or two people. The cliff itself was inside a massive cavern. It was definitely a surreal experience. I wish I had photos of these things I'm describing, but we didn't bring cameras in for fear of breaking them in the mud baths or something. For future visitors, don't listen to the lady who guards the lockers, you can easily and safely bring your camera with you.

Monday we went for a bike ride along the Li river. As I mentioned earlier, the scenery here is just amazing. I'll just post photos instead of describing in too much detail. We biked for maybe 10 kilometers or so through mud paths and small villages to the Dragon Bridge. Instead of biking all the way back, we hired some bamboo rafts and floated in luxury about half way back. The highlight of the rafting ride was my discussion with our driver (captain?). He asked if we had tan people in America, and I responded that we had people of all colors and that it was often a vanity thing to make your skin tanner. This delighted him immensely, since in China tanned skin means you're lower class and have to work outdoors. He declared that the darkness of his tan would mean everyone in America would call him 大老板 (big boss). Then he looked at our white skin and at the umbrella above us in horror, and quickly removed it so we could soak up all the vitamin D possible.

Views from the bike/raft ride:

Tuesday we went tubing on the river. This was super beautiful too, and relaxing, until I was sucked under a concrete dock and "surfaced" underneath the boats in a marina, losing my sunglasses and almost dying. FYI, the current is stronger than it appears. When I finally made it to air, the current was too strong for me to swim to shore. Before I was swept away to Vietnam, I hailed a bamboo raft that was toting some tourists. The rafter fished me out with his pole, but then one of the tourists goes "她想去哪里?!" (Where does she want to go?!). I'm sorry, I didn't hail this raft, fully clothed in the middle of a river clutching my shoes hoping to hitch to Guilin! Silliness. I still have some pretty awesome bruising.

Sunrise in Yangshuo:

That night we caught a flight back to Shanghai for another few days. I worked while Kyla EXPOed. Before you know it, we were traveling again, headed to Beijing for the weekend. I sent Kyla ahead with some friends which was a good idea, since my computer died, and by the time I actually made it to Beijing a few days later, I ended up spending a good deal of the time (6 hours in one day) at the only Apple store in China. Aside from computer drama, it was again weird and nostalgic to be back in BJ, especially since this time we visited some of the cafes and bars where I used to hang out.

Kyla's home now and I'm back to my fun routine of work, apply for work, study Chinese, apply for work. Hopefully I'll fit in the Expo before I make moves. Next stop: Korea in two weeks for a spontaneous weekend.


1 comment:

  1. The karst formations remind of the mountains I drew in kindergarten.