China, Stop 3: Yangshuo

DSCF2908The day almost only consists of traveling. First, I have to take the bus back from Longsheng to Guilin, then I need to find the bus to Yangshuo (and I almost get ripped off, there is a woman trying to fish me and lure me into the bus, and even though I first run away, I have to follow her in the end because I have no idea how to enter the bus station – but as it turns out, everything is exactly as expensive as it should be, and all is good). Then in Yangshuo, I need to find the hostel. They don’t seem to have taxis here, the city is tiny, only 200,000 people, and I can’t find the bus stop, either. So I just walk. I ask people, and walk. They point me down the street. Only when the destination doesn’t appear, and the fourth guy suddenly doesn’t point into that direction anymore, but claims he does not know the street, I become suspicious. Shouldn’t he know the name of the street at least, if we are both standing on it? My assumption will be confirmed later: When you ask Chinese people for something they don’t know, they don’t say they don’t know, they confidently point you into some direction. Awesome.

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Getting the bikes and the bikeriders on the other side of the river

DSCF3007 DSCF2984 DSCF2975  DSCF2967 DSCF2957 DSCF2911 wpid-wp-1438889395992.jpeg   wpid-wp-1438889482799.jpeg I see a hotel and enter it, maybe they know. The guy at the reception is very helpful, he calls my hostel and tells them to pick me up. And a couple of minutes later, someone appears with a scooter. Now this will be my first ride through crazy Chinese traffic without the securing walls of a car around me! And, of course, without helmet, because China.

In my hostel room, it’s a bit creepy, there are three layers of beds, 9 beds in total, but at the moment it’s just me and two Chinese guys, one of them doesn’t speak English but wants to be my friend. I know that because after he has taken several pictures of me, while I climb up to my upper bed, while I search for something in my backpack, and probably more, he asks me if I want to go eat with him. With sign language. And then he says something in Chinese into his phone, and the phone says to me in English “We can make friends!”. But I don’t want to. I find this weird. He doesn’t give up, so I escape downstairs. I ask at the reception if there are more girls on my room – you never know. The girl checks, and then says: “Yes – me!” I am even more confused. As it turns out later, some kids are working there as interns or something, and they all live there. When a Dutch guy enters after his biking tour, he shows me on the map where I could bike along the river the next day, and the girl who will be in my room wants to join. In the end, we have arranged for a bike tour starting in the morning with maybe six people. When I come back from my dinner, I run into the creepy guy again, on the street, and he wants to have dinner with me. I escape to the hostel, knowing he will be in my room anyways.

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Our bike tour is amazing. We first have some difficulties, as one guy and one girl want to go by motorbike (“we wait for you!”), but we can convince them that this is not the purpose of a bike tour. So after all, we all have very cheaply rented bikes, and try to get out of the city. 7 km along the main road. It’s an adventure, I wish I had a gopro so that I could show you the craziness here. The Chinese kids that are with us (they are not kids, they are probably around 20) bike with no fear, and almost get killed by trucks several times. Looking out is overrated, here everything goes by honking. We bike along the river for several hours, and once we need to cross it by boat because the road has ended and there are only fields and mountains. We negotiate with the bamboo raft owners, sneaky little men who in the end agree on half the price they initially wanted. When we come back to the big bridge at the Li river, we go for a swim – I don’t dare to get out of the water for a while because even more exciting than Westerners’ faces are Westerners swimming in a river, and suddenly a group of twenty or so is standing at the shore and staring at us. I just keep on swimming.

Our day ends with a nice dinner in one of the most popular restaurants – you have to wait for an hour to get in. It is cheap and delicious. After that, I pack my stuff and move to the hostel I initially wanted to live in, before Anthony had recommended me this one. I didn’t sleep too well last night, there was an annoying chubby little boy underneath me who was rolling around dramatically (maybe he was hot) so much that the entire bed was moving and shaking like during an earthquake. Also, the creepy guy was creepy. And the staff sleeping in my room was discussing loudly even after I had asked them to be quiet because I wanna sleep. The people I went with on the bike trip where very nice, and they are a bit disappointed, but I also want to see what else is there in Yangshuo. One guy brings me to the new hostel with his motorbike. We have to pass the crazy West Street: Yangshuo has only 200,000 inhabitants. All of them go to the West Street in the evening.

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Bianca in the Li River. Can you find her?

I meet some more Dutch people in the new hostel (seriously, what are they all doing in China?) and we sit outside with a huge group of people for some hours. The two Dutch guys are on party holidays, they were in Hong Kong before this, and they move on to the Philippines soon. In typhoon season, the party is said to be even greater! There are also three Belgium friends, two guys and one girl, and they are really funny. One guy complains a lot about China, but stresses that he really likes it, too. We compare our experiences. It is very interesting. Unfortunately, they all go sleep soon, and then it’s just the Dutch guys and me – and two new Dutch guys, looking suspiciously alike, with their British girlfriends or something. It is not quite clear to me if they just met in this hostel, or if they are actually traveling together. The two new guys are very cocky. We play a card game, it’s quite fun, but in the next morning, when we all end up at the same breakfast table, the cocky guys pretend they don’t know me. It’s superweird. But I don’t care, as I pack my stuff again and leave to the bus station to go back to Guilin. At 2 pm my train to Beijing leaves, and then my holidays are already over…

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