Panorama from our hostel’s rooftop bar terrace :-) (Excuse the quality but I’m in a rush and we’re about to head up there for our last drink!)
Well we’ve had a bloody busy week in Yangshou in China. This was the place we picked to chill out in for a week, largely because it’s a very touristy area (which has it’s downsides as well), but there’s loads of activities to do, so we’ve been doing a load of them. Although we stayed here to chill out a bit, it was mostly to stay in one spot for a while….one of my good friends also worked here for 18 months but unfortunately we missed her by a couple of months.
This week we’ve done stuff every day apart from today – a cooking lesson, some river drifting (superb!), cycling, bamboo rafting, climbing and swimming. The area is surrounded by limestone karts – very like Krabi in Thailand, Vang Vieng in Laos, and Halong Bay in Vietnam. The climbing is outstanding but we’ve only managed to have half a day of it.
We arrived here after spending one brief night in Guilin, and took the boat down the river for a few hours. This was the first (and last) tour in China we’ve been on – including the full flag holding up front from the tour leader – very cringy…..but the boat trip was stunning.
It’s far hotter here than Beijing. You cant move a finger without loosing about 3 litres in sweat….it’s crazy hot and humid. So much so that we’re both getting a bit of a cold from the air con in our room.
So we had a cooking lesson where we cooked dumplings and other more tasty dishes. I won’t say too much about this as I’m way behind on my blog…but it was great.
We then went cycling alongside the smaller river outside of Yangshou. This was pretty amazing as well as the road quickly turned into a dirt track, then before we know it we were cycling through rice paddy fields in absolutely amazing scenery. We ended up at Dragon (or Yulong) Bridge a couple of hours later and went for a swim, before negotiating for a bamboo raft to take us back down river.
River Drifting :
We spent the next morning river drifting at Longjin River Drifting. This was superb and a great laugh. Basically I think it’s an outflow of a local dam but it’s really narrow and when you drive up on the bus and look down you think ‘No bloody way could we go down that….’. You sit there with 70 odd other mini inflatable rafts then you wait for the start. Straight away you’re into a 13m drop off down a narrow chute, and you drift down with a few similar drops for 50 minutes. I’m sure you wouldn’t be allowed to do this in the UK but it’s not that dangerous and we bought a couple of classy photos – see below. We were so tempted to do this again – it was 50 minutes of pure fun.
If you have any interest in climbing and you’re here, you just have to climb around Yangshou. Along with Krabi in Thailand it’s one of Asia’s biggest and most respected climbing areas. Unfortunately we were here in mid summer and we were sweating like crazy, but the climbing was superb. We managed to cool down after the climbing by walking for 50m and going for a swim. I think I felt drier in the water as I had been sweating so much (when I sat up from the rocks after watching people it looked like I wet myself!). I wish it was cooler and we had longer here (this is a much repeated phrase this week!!).
We had a bit of culture and went to a lightshow which wasn’t quite what we expected but it was amazing in it’s own way. It was the guy who created the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics and he created some kind of musical set on the water in Yangshou, but also lit up amazingly well using the scenery. It’s not really our thing but you have to be a bit impressed none the less.
Yangshou itself is a very touristy town – as commercial as some of the South East Asia tourist hotspots, but maybe a but more peaceful in some ways. There’s not much street food, but there are some great locals restaurants where you can get a claypot rice dish which is amazing, for two, with beer for less than £4…..but there’s also trashy pubs with pole dancers which we’ve avoided. Our hostel has a roof terrace bar with absolutely stunning views over the river and the limestone karsts – there’s about 70,000 karts in the area!
We’ve been approached a few times by offers of volunteering or temporary English teaching staff and we’ve been getting quite disappointed about our travel deadlines to fly out of Hong Kong to hit New Zealand – we’d love to spend way longer here and I’ve often talked about if we could we’d have done conversational English classes just to get by for longer.
I’m sure there’s loads more I could write about this place but I’m way behind blogging, and I’ve not written anything in my travel notes since arriving in China as we’ve been non-stop, but it’s really felt like a holiday after Central Asia. Despite this it’s made us really appreciate the trials and difficulties of travelling there as it’s just a completely different experience.
The reality of hitting NZ is a bit too much for us though as we don’t want to leave Asia (I say this every time I have to leave Asia!! It’s definitely one of my favourite areas which is good as it’s massive!). We’re meeting my really good friend from Wellington at the end of the month to have my birthday on the snow slopes of NZ which will be a big culture and temperature shock.
Tomorrow (Sunday) we’re getting the sleeper bus to Hong Kong overnight. We have 5 nights there, then 2 nights in a 5 star (but cheap) hotel in Macau for a bit of Vegas type fun, but yet in a traditional Portugese (well, now Chinese) setting. We reluctantly didn’t book a better hotel in Hong Kong due to cash but we’ve regretted it since as relatively speaking it wasn’t too much more money.
Better sign out – it’s off to the roof top bar for our last evening of drinks in Yangshou 🙁
Fiona – this ones for you – the both of us sitting in the train reading up on things : You’ll probably recognise the books!