THE TRIP BEGINS

Trip Start Aug 30, 2009
1
9
Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Bob's House

Flag of China  , Guangxi,
Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday, August 30th: Left from San Francisco on Asiana Airlines at 10:40am.  I was lucky I booked my flight early; the prices went up the last 30 days about $400.00 more.  My ticket was only $850.00. The only problem I had was Asiana is the airline that tries to enforce the one bag rule for carry on.  But I had planned on that and had shifted my stuff around just in case.  I was worried that my two bags for check in would be to heavy, which they were but that did not seem to concerned them.  I was hoping to get some sleep on the for leg of my journey about 11 hours to Seoul, Korea but luck would have it I did not.  I did get to see 5 movies I liked.
Monday, August 31st: Arrived Seoul, Korea 5:30pm their time.  My connection was at 7:30pm so it worked out perfect.  The flight from Seoul to Korea was a fast one.  They actually got there 30 minutes early.  As I waited for my Luggage I decide to call my friend and see if they were waiting for me.  They had just got to the airport and by the time I checked through customs.  Now as you leave the custom area they X-ray your bags.  I was a little afraid because my one bag was full of food (all processed stuff) like good old Rice-a-Roni (the San Francisco treat) and Spam (the almost meat).  It is traditional in China when I friend returns from a vacation that they bring a snack from where they had been.  So that is what I decided to do, along with a couple of boxes of Tea and Coffee.  They did not bother the custom guy at all.  It was the other bag full of books that he wanted to inspect.  I explain to him they were all children's books that I donate to a school in Yangshuo.  After he shuffled through them he smiled and said  "Very good" and off I went.  The ride back to Yangshuo was about 90 minutes.  Got there at almost 1am.

Tuesday, September 1st:  Got up a little late my body clock is going to be off for a few days.  Everyone had already left to breakfast and work.  I decided to ease into the China thing so I went to the restaurant near the Juice bar that serves western breakfasts.  For less then $3.00 you get juice, tea, two eggs, bacon, a toasted cheese sandwich, which is expensive compare to the traditional Chinese breakfast.  After I had my western breakfast I headed over to the 49 Juice Bar to catch up on all that was happen or going to happen. 

A couple from Holland wanted to use the Juice Bar to give a talk and get some information about tourism.  I said sure no problem.  I invited them to our open talk that evening.  I told them I was not sure if anyone would show up because it was my first day back. 

That evening the word got around and several of the regulars were there and very happy to have me back.  The couple from Holland had a great time talking to the students and visa versa. I finally had to cut them all off about 9:30 I was getting tired.

Wednesday, September 2nd:  Started my day with a tradition Yangshuo noodle soup.  Full of all kinds of things, meat, vegetable, noodle, spices, seaweed and some things I could not tell what they were. I maintain my policy of just eat don’t ask. Total cost about 50 cents and I was full. After breakfast we all went and opened up the Juice Bar.

Had lots of foreigners into the juice bar that day 4 from London, a couple from France, a guy from Canada and the couple from Holland.

Tonight the couple from Holland ran the open talk.  We did some fun introduction games.  One of the games was where you picked out a post card from a stack on them and tries to relate the picture to an experience you had with a foreign person or place. The other was to write down in four categories 1) thing you know 2) things you don’t know 3) things others know and 4) things you know that others don’t know. Then we broke into groups and discussed them. We had a real good turn out about 6 foreigners and about 15 Chinese students, teachers, and business people.  The couple from Holland is working on their Master’s Degree in Tourism.  They have been living in Seoul, Korea and working as tour guides for a Dutch company.  From what I could tell most of the clients were Korean Dutch returning to Korean to find their roots.  The paper they are writing to an attempt to find a way for tourist to get more involved with meeting people rather then just seeing places.  We had some very interesting discussions.  I was happy delighted that the Chinese got the concept and really got involved in the conversations. Everyone had a fantastic time, once again I had to kick them out, but it was time. 

Thursday September 3rd:  Went and had breakfast at the 49 Juice Bar, oatmeal.  Then we were invited to go and see my friend Julia new project.  Julia has a nice shop on West Street with lots of clothing and other things at great prices.  She had this idea of opening up a farmer style café on the bicycle route from Yangshuo to Moon Hill.  She got some land that had a couple of springs on it and carved out some ponds out of the rocky ground and then built some eating huts around the big pond and a big kitchen.  She will keep is as a farm and grow most of the things right there including duck and chickens.  She had left a big area to park their bikes and come and enjoy the comfort of her home cooked meals.  All the buildings are built of bamboo so she is going to call it Bamboo Village.

She hopes to open it in two weeks. Hopefully before the big holidays at the 1st of October.

Tonight Uncle Chen, Dawn’s Tai Chi Master came to cook us all a wonderful Chinese dinner.  Not only a Tai Chi Master but also a master cook also.  We had about 8 dishes including Beer Fish a local specialty. There was the staff and the couple for Holland and myself.  Uncle Chen also brought us some of his infamous homemade wine.  Which like the Greek resina takes a while to get use to.

After dinner the open talk group began to arrive.  As usual we had a great discussion. The couple from Holland stayed.  It is a real treat to have some other foreigners there for them to question and learn more about the world.

Friday, September 4th:  Got the new wire to hook up to the internet at the apartment but now we think of service is where the problem is, so we will try to contact the phone company for help. Shelly my friend who is a public school teacher among other things.  Ask me to bring the couple from Holland to her school to talk to the students there who are studying tourist hospitality classes especially English.  Arie the guy from Holland had a little bit too much of Uncle Chen’s wine last night so he could not make it.  But Dawn and I and Saskia went.  We talk at two sessions and visited four classes. The school just started last year to help kids 16 to 20 to get more education.  They were not able to get into a regular vocational school or the University because of grades or money.  So the government helps by giving them this place to learn.  The live and eat and learn on campus.  They really need volunteers particularly English foreign speakers.  The whole ideas is to be able to help them find jobs in the local tourist industry and be much more professional about it.  If you or someone you know wants to help you can go to www.chinaculturalcenter.com and complete an application.  They are also in the process of converting an old school into a hotel so the students can have hands on training.  Finally got around to going to the police station to register.  If you are not staying at a hotel you have 24 hours (I thought is was 72 hours because I thought we were considered a rural area) to register and tell the police where you are staying.  Once we found that out it was no problem they just said remember it the next time.  The last time I was here we tried to about 2 weeks to register but they had just moved into a new building and nothing was working right.  This time it went very smooth.  The policewoman even spoke a little English.  However I was glad to have Dawn along to help interpret some of the more technical stuff.

Shelly a friend of my who is a teacher and own a small retreat across the river invited the couple from Holland and Dawn and I over for dinner.  As we waited for her car to come and pick us up Julia came and said it was a “free day” to go and get fresh water river snails.  I was not sure what she meant because I see people down at the river all the time looking for snails.  We decided to go down and see.  There were all kinds of people up to their knees in the river searching for snails.  Dawn and Saskia (the girl from Holland) jumped right in.  They found some pretty good size ones but Julia said most would only be good for snail soup.

We got a call from the driver he was at the 49 Juice Bar waiting for us so we gave Julia all our snails and head for Shelly’s.  Shelly’s place is perched on a hill across the river from Yangshuo.  It has one of the best views of Yangshuo.  She is in the process of expanding some of her rooms into suites.  This is a bar and restaurant as part of the retreat.  Also there are walking paths through beautiful gardens.  If you just wish to get away from it all you have to go to Shelly’s.  We had a fantastic dinner her cook is local and some of the food is grown right there on the property.  In the evening you sit out on the terrace and watch the sunset behind the hills of Yangshuo and then the lights of the city begin to come on.  It is fantastic.  If you want more information about Shelly’s you can go to www.itsaboutchina.com and go to Yangshuo and Places to Stay.  The rates are really good.
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