Not Long enough in Yangshou

Trip Start May 30, 2005
Trip End Sep 30, 2006

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

We left Nan Yue knowing that we had a fairly large journey ahead of us. First up was a bus to Heng Yang, no problems, only an hour long. Our bus driver was nice to us and managed to work out that we wanted to go to the train station, rather than going all the way to the bus station he made us get off early so a taxi would (presumeably) be cheaper for us. The taxi driver was a real character, I showed him the Chinese word for 'Train Station' from my Phrase book, he then said a lot to me in Mandarin "Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah".
"Wo Bu Dong", I don't understand.
"Blah Blah Blah Blah"
"Wo Bu Dong".
He then pointed to my phrase book and indicated that I should look in there to find out what he said, he thought that the book was magic or something, he had a big smile and kept pointing at my book. I had to confiscate it from his gaze after he had to brake suddenly in order to avoid the car that had 'taken way' into our lane while he looked at the book of magic words. This didn't deter him from continuing his monologue in Mandarin, in the end I just ended up replying to him in English, "I think you're right, I think Chelsea will win the Premiership again.", "Well, you could say that but I think green's a better colour". We had a whale of a time all the way to the station.

We took a hard sleeper that evening to Guilin and then onto another bus in the morning that took us to Yangshou. We were knackered when we arrived and were easy prey for the tout that pick us up at the side of the road. We stayed at his hotel and although we may have overpayed a little it wouldn't have been too much plus it was a really nice room. We did object to his rather hard sell on the bus ticket that we wanted to buy to Guanzhou and eventually declined his offer, saving us each 30 Yuan (2 GBP each) when we bought it elsewhere, you've got to keep on your toes round here.

Yangshou is stunning. I've heard of many people coming for a few days and staying for a few weeks. I can see why. We had three days planned here and I'd have loved to stayed longer but our schedule didn't have any slack to allow for this. Before I could really enjoy the sights and sounds of the local area I had to sort out a little administration matter. I'd been mulling over the idea of cutting my China (and New Zealand) travels a bit short in order to allow myself a month in Mynamar (Burma). Since I'd need to change my flights from Hong Kong I found that I needed to get this done quick smart. So, rather than flying to Singapore on the 18th of August I'm now flying to Bangkok on the 30th, and from there onto Mynamar. It seems like Bangkok has an incredible draw to me for some reason, when I pass through there again it'll be the 14th time in my life that I've done this! crickey.

Anyway, back to the matters in hand. Yangshou is set in the middle of this fantastic limestone karst scenery. This makes huge hills just appear out of nothing looking superb. They also produce great cave systems which are just ripe for exploring. The best thing that we did here was hire bikes are ride over to "Moon Hill", which is a hill with a hole in it near the top. The hole is so round that it looks like the moon. This is great, but even better is the fact that it's right next to the "Water Cave", which has been really badly named as it should really be called "Wallow in the Mud Cave". True enough you have to get in a boat to travel through the first section, but once you're in the cave proper it's only a short walk to the main attraction, the mud pool. There were a large group of people already there when we arrived. Everyone was just in the pool up to their ankles, no one was game yet. One of the Chinese girls climbed the little hill above the pool and onto the mud slide which someone had built, she came down with a great speed and caused a huge splash, it was fantastic, she was covered in mud now. After this many more people climbed up for the big splash, myself included of course. After a couple of goes the mud was just everywhere so all that was left was to lie down and enjoy it.

It was weird lying there as you were able to float on the surface in the same way as you'd float on the Dead Sea. You could even go for a psuedo swim, which I guess was really more like a mud skate. My trips up and down the slide came to an abrupt end after my fourth go. As more people used the slide it got muddier and slidier. This meant that I hid the bottom of the mud pool with a thud and scraped some skin off my underside. Yep, I'd just content myself with the wallowing thanks very much. After a while the lifeguard called time and we had to leave. First we washing in the stream that ran alongside the mud. Again at first this was weird as you sank in the water! strange that! it's just that you got so used to floating that you almost forgot what real water was like.

The rest of our time in Yangshou involved hanging around town in cafes and markets. It's a very welcome change from the rest of China which can be really hard work at times, this is why people stay for longer than they really should.

We left reluctantly on another night bus for the Cantonese city of Guanzhou. We'd splashed out a little more cash that the last time so we were granted an extra couple of inches compared to the last bus. For this we were thankful. It didn't make the bus comfortable, just not uncomfortable.
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