Yangshou: Backpackers haven apparently
Trip Start Jul 11, 2006
32Trip End Jun 28, 2007
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Where I stayed
I had a look at the room, a twin, with a TV and it was actually quite nice, but then came the manager who gave me the hard sell. He wanted Y80/night (about a fiver) and as I was still half asleep I didn't even bother to haggle hard, agreeing on Y75/night...fool! I didn't have enough cash on me to pay for 4 nights so he drove me down to the ATM, very eager to take my cash...When we got back he then offered to give me some information about what I could do. I thought that would be cool, but it turned out he wanted to plan an itinerary for each day I was in Yangshou, with lots of excursions
The Li River boat trip was in the afternoon, later that day, so I had little time to recover from the bus ride. I was given lunch - basically this meant taking me to a local cheap eat place and giving me some food (real cost about 40p). I was then pushed onto a local bus to the village from where the boat leave from, not knowing what to do when I got there or anything. When I initially asked about the bus, the manager said it was 'nearly full' which I interpreted it as being a tour bus of some kind, but it was actually the local bus! Again he was just feeding me with crap...
I was met by some Chinese lady who put me on the boat, and we set off, in the pouring rain. It wasn't that impressive really; scenery was beautiful, the small hills just jutting out of the landscape looked crazy, but nothing I couldn't have seen elsewhere in the area. Yet again the driver didn't speak any English so I didn't have a clue what he was saying when he was explaining the scenery to the other Chinese tourists.
Later that day I had a walk around the town, down to 'Foreigner Street' and it was complete chaos; yet again it was another town that has been inundated with Chinese tourists, well tourism in general. Everywhere you turn it's the same old story, people hassling me to buy things, and I was just getting tired of saying 'No'
As it was the 'hotel's birthday', the manager told me that there would be free beer that night (which must have been one of the deciding factors for staying there..), but it turned out to be one beer from the shop around the corner. He then pestered me to go for a 'special massage' which I declined of course, and then he just fell asleep. I headed for a bar down on Foreigner Street where I joined a killer pool competition. There were about 12 of us in it and I ended up winning that round! I then had to play best of 3 with the winner of the first round which I missed, who turned out to be Scottish. I won the first game, lost the second but won the third!! I was pool champion of Water Buffalo bar for that week, the prize was a few beers are a t-shirt with the Water Buffalo Logo on! Not a bad end to my first day in Yangshou.
The next day I had planned to visit the caves the next day, with the idea of checking out of the hotel the next day. The guy who met me at the bus station was meant to take me there on the bikes, but he was 'too busy' and ended up getting some girl to escort me there. I wanted the guy to come along to take some pix of me, but as it turned out, I had a private tour as no one else was there, so the guide took some pictures for me
The following day I packed my stuff up and tried to check out, but I was met with the friendly words of "You fu*k me!", which I thought were a little harsh. hehe. The manager wouldn't let me check out unless I forfeit Y100 because he had turned loads of people away that morning as the hotel was full! He just blatantly lied to me! I know full well the hotel wasn't not full as I rarely saw anyone else in the place. I pleaded with him but he refused and then quickly left. So I decided to stick it out in the hotel, even though I could get a dorm bed down the road for Y20/night. I just decided to spend as little time there as possible. I grabbed a coffee i the town before hitting the Internet to call home for my Mum's birthday.
The following day I decided to get a bike and head out into the paddy fields to check out the surrounding area
I tried to follow the map but it was pretty bad and I got completely lost! After about 2 hours of riding I was in the middle of nowhere! It was all good though as the landscape was amazing, and I passed through lots of little villages, which most people would never get to see. Sometimes the path would end suddenly so I would have to put my bike on my shoulder and walk through the paddy fields, or at one point over one of the hills. I think getting lost made the trip more exciting as I was completely away from where all the other cyclists go, and so I could enjoy views on my own. It was scorching hot all day and I was completely saturated with sweat, lovely, and I burnt my hands! I must have forgotten to put sun block on my hands! Doh!
The next day I went for another ride but in a totally different direction, and yet again, due to the poor map I got lost (honestly, I'm not a retard, I can follow a map..usually)
In order to save some cash in Yangshou I didn't eat in any of the cafes on Foreigner Street. They may still be cheap in comparison to the UK, but having been in China for a while, I knew I could eat far more cheaply at the places the locals eat. So for the whole time I was in Yangshou breakfast consisted of peanut butter and jam sandwiches for breakfast (I found a brilliant little bakery which did really good bread and pastries!), then for lunch it was noodle soup (Y2 = 14p). Dinner was usually a stir-fry, where you just grab a plate, fill it with what ever ingredients you like, choose some meat, and they throw it in a wok for you and serve it with a bowl of rice, all for a mere Y5 (35p). I think it is far better to eat like this anyway; not only do I get dirt cheap food, but I get see more of the culture, unlike the western style cafes where there a English menus, serving all the usual dishes
I booked a train ticket to Kunming from Guilin (bus from Yangshou to Guilin) through thr manager of the hotel. Again another big mistake. He told me that they only run every-other day, which may be true, but it sounded to me like a ploy to make me stay another night! He dropped me off at the nus stop, gave me my ticket, covering the real price with some paper with the hope I wouldn't check it before leaving, but I did. I paid Y280 but the face value of the ticket was Y169. I expected to pay a little commission as I always do, but he screwed me again. I didn't challenge it as I couldn't change anything, so I asked for my room deposit back, and he promptly gave me a Y100 note from a side pocket of his bum-bag (which I'm sure was actually part of his body as he never took it off). There are lots of fake notes in China, so I checked it as best I could; the watermark and metal strip were there, but it felt a little thicker than normal, but I thought it was just because it was new. My gut feeling was that it wasn't right, but I didn't say anything and I later found out when I came to use it that is was fake! Talk about rubbing salt into the wound!
Yangshou proved to be one of the best experiences in China, but also my worst of travelling so far. The scenery was amazing and I really enjoyed the bike rides and the cave, but it was spoilt by getting scammed by my hotel.
Bus to Guilin, then a 22 hour train to Kunming, the adventure continues...