It was the door to our cabin. Karen opened it to he greeted by a guard saying that we were here. It was half an hour too early and as we scrambled to pack our bags up we realised our cabin was the last occupants on the train along with our room mate. All the other guards were chatting and smoking on the platform.
Our Guesthouse in Yangshuo offered a pick up but we decided to rough it and get local transport there.
We immediately were shown to a bus going to Yangshuo by a chain-smoking driver and as we waited on the bus the rest of the passengers descended on it.
Karen fell asleep on this bus so the following is from John’s memory:
“The bus pulled gingerly out of the station and it was many minutes before it got up to full speed as it needed to be full before leaving the city. Each bus has a female conductor who jumps off the bus to coax random pedestrians onto it and but noodles for the driver”.
With all their economic power and rich cultural tradition the Chinese have yet to master basic concepts such as Lane Discipline, Safe Driving, considerate use of the horn and other safe driving techniques.
At one point our bus undertook a truck while another bus overtook it – this all happened on a four lane road with traffic coming against us”
We got into Yangshuo in one piece when Karen decided to wake up. It was lashing rain so we jumped in some bloke’s van (as you do!) and we drove to the guesthouse in a nearby village.
The last piece of drama occurred when the driver couldn’t find the guesthouse and we had to ring them to be guided in.
With our bags deposited in our room we tucked into some proper breakfast, bacon roll and beans for John and some pretentious fruit and Muesli for Karen. Our hosts were Steve, an Australian Tai Chi Master and his wife Jessy, born in China, raised in Hong Kong and spent enough time in Australia to be chilled out.
For the next three days they were the best. Maps, directions, tickets for shows, pack lunches – you name it they sorted it!
The rain had eased some so we got two mountain bikes and cycled into town. The route was flat and partly through a long covered market that hugged the Li River.
Bicycles abandoned on the edge of West Street area we walked into the shopping/eating district and got some noodle soup for lunch. From that moment we would engage in a fun game of charades and the liberal use of an English – Chinese Translation App to order what we wanted.
After that we explored more of the town and went into the park. Here we first witnessed a common sight in China – public dancing. The last generation of Chinese congregate outside and engage in aerobics, dancing (Ballroom and Hip-Hop) and are probably the prototype Flash Mob.
We also saw a private Tai Chi lesson take place near the big statue.
It was here that we were asked to pose with locals for photographs. I wonder if they thought we were famous or just different enough to warrant capturing the moment on film.
After a few hours, and still not recovered from the journey we went back to the Guesthouse that evening and ate dinner with Jessy. An extravagant display of local cuisine including the best pork loin ever!!
If anyone reading this post is thinking of going to Yangshuo we cannot recommend the guesthouse enough, It’s called The Stone Bridge.