Yangshuo + a few other bits

Day 32 / Day 16 ACEC

Not much happened during this day, so I’ll (attempt) to keep it short. We got off the boat pretty early, our Yangste River cruise over, and went to a town called Yichang via a private bus. Although the Three Gorges Dam entry was not included in our tour and we didn’t have time to visit as an optional activity, our driver stopped off at a viewpoint of the dam. As it was so early, there was nobody else about, and we got some nice photos.

Three Gorges Dam - Yangste River
Three Gorges Dam – Yangste River

Then in Yichang, our time there was basically ‘filler’ time until our overnight train to Lizhou (from where we would be travelling to our next proper destination, Yangshuo), which was at 1pm. Jakkie (our twenty-something year old wonderful tour facilitator) showed us a huge mall, which included a Walmart (we replenished our toothpaste and bought snacks for the train), and a McDonalds (where we ate, having failed to locate a pizza place which apparently exists in the mall too).

The daylight hours of our sleeper train were now spent expertly, this being our third. We chatted, laughed, ate our pot noodles, and pinched noses when visiting the toilet, as ever! I think the talk turned to weddings at one point, too, and American traditions, Chinese traditions, dresses and the like…that was quite fun, given we’ve got one of our own to plan soon. This train was particularly fun as for once, Jakkie managed to get a ticket in the same compartment as the rest of us, and although she had been an excellent tour guide from the start, we were now very comfortable in her company – she is an awesome person just to hang out with, too. Oh, I’d almost forgotten! There was one point where a local guy sat opposite Jakkie and started asking questions about us, fascinated (this was a recurring theme throughout a lot of China) by our foreignness. He even asked how much we earnt, to which Jakkie gave some scathing reply and rolled her eyes at us – ‘I don’t know what he expects me to tell him!’ That was pretty entertaining. We started asking questions back via Jakkie after that and discovered he was in the wine trade. Fascinating!

Haha, I know I said ‘short and sweet’…whoops. I can’t help it. When I start writing, I remember lots of random stuff, and I’m determined to get it down as want to use these entries as memoirs in years to come!

Day 33 / Day 17 ACEC / Yangshuo

We got off the train extremely early in Lizhou – 5am to be precise – Jakkie had trouble waking us up! I remember bundling into a private minibus, more uncomfortable than previous minibuses, and then attempting but failing to sleep properly.

This was when my horrible cough started. I was really hoping it was just an unfortunate combination of the early hour and maybe some dust in the air, but no. It got worse and worse and was probably irritating everybody on the bus quite a lot, but I couldn’t help it L

Despite it, though, I perked up after checking into our hotel as we took a short walk through the pretty streets of Yangshuo towards where we were to be having breakfast. It is a town apparently founded by backpackers for backpackers, and you can tell. There are many cool cafes, quaint restaurants, street market stalls, and much of it appears quite pedestrianised. All this is set against a beautiful background of rolling green hills and karsts in the distance.

A typical Yangshuo street
A typical Yangshuo street

Breakfast was an amazing surprise – a full English was on the menu! No prizes for guessing what Dave and I ordered, then. And I got a cup of tea that wasn’t green but English tea. I know it sounds terribly un-travellerish of me, but at that moment, being ill and tired, I was so grateful for such home comforts!

I can’t remember the name of the place but I’m going to e-mail Jakkie and find out and insert an edit (as ever!) when I do.

Full English!
Full English! (Well, an interpretation of, but good enough for me)

Dave signed up for an optional activity that afternoon – rock climbing. I decided the best thing to do for my cough, which I really didn’t want to get any worse, was to rest. There was an excellent view of the surrounding scenery from the window and I could write, read, and nap.

Okay so whilst drafting this, I asked Dave if he’d do a guest post on his rock climbing experience. Here is his input:

There were some rocks, I climbed them, the view was nice. Don’t fall off.

Yeah. That went well…! I have taken the liberty of shifting through the photos he took and putting one below as another example of the gorgeous scenery in this area.

The gorgeous scenery around Yangshuo
The gorgeous scenery around Yangshuo

In the evening, Dave and I attempted to return to our breakfast café for dinner, but as the cafes all look so similar, somehow ended up in the one next to it. In truly British style, we politely stayed seated and had dinner there instead – the fried rice wasn’t bad, though, so it’s okay!

On the walk back to the hotel, we picked up some scarves and a dress from the market stalls. I don’t much like haggling but it wasn’t too bad! I do remember realising, when a lady charged me the equivalent of just under a pound for a spectacular scarf, that Dave, who paid the equivalent of a fiver (having still haggled it down from much higher!) for another spectacular scarf at an earlier stall (a gift for a relative) that it is even easier than one assumes to be ripped off…!

Yangshuo by night
Yangshuo by night

Day 34 / Day 18 ACEC – Yangshuo

The next morning included a bike ride. Despite not having ridden a bike in years, I was determined to give the bike ride a go. However, I was awake for most of the night with my cough, and Dave and I both decided I was to stay in bed. So I did.

I asked Dave again to do a guest post on the bike ride, and similar results ensued:

Yaaay, a bike ride, weeeeeeeeeee.

I believe Dave walked to the base of this during the bike ride
I believe Dave walked to the base of this during the bike ride

Annnyway, in the evening, I was supposed to join the other ladies in the group for a spa session but again decided against the whole affair. I seriously couldn’t stop coughing the whole day! Lovely Jakkie did provide me with some amazing little ginger’n’herb’n’sugar squares which are solid little bars that dissolve into hot water providing an amazingly warming, soothing drink, which I drank continuously for the rest of the day and night 🙂

We all went for a goose dinner in the evening at Chun Ji Shao’E. The goose was lovely, as was the accompanying spicy beer fish curry – I actually loved the latter, and I don’t usually like fish, so that’s saying a lot!

There was a feeling in the air of finality, because our time together as a tour group would be ending in a few days’ time.

Day 35 / Day 19 ACEC / travelling to Shenzhen for the border crossing

I woke up to a receding cough, thank goodness! This day was basically a day of travel. Dave and I got to experience the bullet train again (we’d experienced it earlier in Japan), this time in China! It took us from Yangshuo to Shenzhen, which was basically to be an overnight stay before our border crossing into Hong Kong. The bullet train was very comfortable with Western (more importantly, CLEAN) toilets and hot water – cue a pot noodle dinner again! This trip reminds me of my first year at uni when thought of simply by the amount of noodles consumed…

In the evening, upon reaching Shenzhen, immediately we felt the difference in the metro station here compared to, say, Beijing. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but from the adverts to the British-accented lady translating announcements into English, we really felt that we were about to leave mainland China now and enter into Hong Kong, which we would find to be really quite different, if similar…think same, same but different! I unfortunately didn’t take any photos?!

After a long walk from Shenzen metro station we finally arrived at our hotel for the night – one of the swishest yet, with really fast WiFi…oh yes, Hong Kong was definitely around the corner…

Thanks for stopping by. Next post – Hong Hong! May have to split Hong Kong into two separate posts…

Ro x

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