Friday, October 08, 2004

Adventures in China! 

I lied. We didn't leave Yangshuo. Again. We decided to stay anotherday to do some more relaxing. Since we hadn't actually sat by the Li River and done anything yet, we decided to take a day and do that (it also puts off another dronerous day of travel across this enormous country). Instead of discussing today's 'activities', I will digress to a couple days past....our second day of biking in this area....fadeout....

It was a day like any other, except for the fact that we are 2 white unemployed homeless chillens in China. After a quick breakfast of pastries (they are tasty and perfectly healthy I swear. I feel as strong as a lumberjack [i sleep all night and I work all day. i put on gloves, I wear high heels, suspenders and a bra! I wish I'd been a girlie, just like my dear papar...] after eating them.) we again rented high end mountain bikes and decided to ride up north to the village of Xingping and take a ferry ride back down the Li toYangshuo. It was a 24km ride, and it started off badly, only because our undercarriages (I like that terminology don't you?) were still badly rutted and dinged up from the long ride the day before. But we persevered. This ride alos began with a tunnel excursion.Unfortunately, this one was a bit longer than the one the day before. And I guess lighting is unacceptable, at least in said tunnel. Midway thru I could feel the darkness crushing my skull and forcing my eyeballs out to better gain the fragments of light that were issuing forth from the far end of the shaft. Oh yeah-lots of traffic whizzed by continuously, and no, a tunnel is not seen as a valid reason to not pass at any and every opportunity. (Sidenote: it is SO easy to ride around and cross streets here! There is so much expectancy and prediction by everyone that they are not the oblivious bufoons that careen around our nation's roads) We shuffed out and continued on. After approx 7km we made a turn off the main road (It only took us 1/2hour to ride that far. And I was totally winning the ride!) and started up what could be considered a country road. Not much traffic, passing thru more small villages/collections of buildings, great scenery. Loved it. Since we were away from the river and out amongst the crops, we got to see their water moving methods. Their irrigation ditches are used for everything. Concrete or brick or dirt, they move water to the fields. In one 50 foot stretch we saw someone washing their clothes and another couple washing some food (same water). This water is used for pretty much everything and no, they don't filter or use iodine or anything. You do what you have to do, ya know?

For those of you that know Rachelle, you know she has a penchant for snapping photos. We stopped approximately every 10 feet for her to either:

1. Line up a shot, pull her camera out of her bag, take the pic, and put the camera back in her bag; or 2. Study the scene for a while, half pull out her camera, then slide it back in and move on.

A fairly entertaining routine actually. She'll have more (and better) pics than me I'm sure.

Overall it was a great ride. Uneventful but very nice to be away from the traffic and people.

Digression-in my description of life in this town (and China) I completely freudianed to mention the constant honking of horns. This is how you let someone know you are coming, warn them to move over, announce a pass, let them know you successfully respired once more. Constant! It was amusing at first, then grating, now it's passed into the cacophany of background noises.

No one killed that damn rooster outside our window. The freakin' thing woke me up again, repeatedly, this morning.

Back to the story. We arrived in Xingping (nice small rundown place. Standard) and rode thru over to the river to scope out a boat. One was scooped for 250 yuan total (~$30) and we boarded an overloaded little skiff. With our bikes. It was jampacked, but I thought it'd be neat to ride downriver with all these Chinese folks (who of course were looking at us very curiously). 50 feet and 2 minutes later we reached the opposite shore and offloaded. Our 4 foot tall guide lady led us down river a short spell where a small boat eventually pulled up and brought us aboard. Rachelle took a pic as I got on and said I dwarfed the boat. Yeah! I'm huge! It was maybe a 15-footer, a roof over partof it and a motor. Leader lady told us that we wouldn't get getting all the way to Yangshuo, that we'd have to bike back part of the way. Our guess is the legality of the boat and it's captain are questionable and can't boat passengers into town out of fear of legal swooping. No biggie, on her map it didn't appear that far for us to bike. A short bench was laid on on the front deck for us, and we scoofed off. It was great! I had forgotten how much I love being onthe water, the scenery was great, and it was a lot less work to have the noisy belching black smoking little engine push us downstream than to pump our burning (sun, not lactic) legs on worn out bikes. Good times. Then we pulled over. In the middle of nowhere. There were some old ladies sitting on the shore under a large tree with leaves, hanging, checking the scene. Off we went, arms were pointed in a vague direction, off they chugged. Silence descended and there we were. Ok, nothing to do but get moving so we did. A smiling ni hau to the ladies who responded in kind, and we moved off thru their little 'village'. Got some pics, no one was around. Then out into the sun and the fields. Our guess is that we were dropped off closer to ~1/2 way back. The ride ended up lasting an hour or so and this time we were up and down hills, around bends, river vista viewing, people chatting, the whole 16 yards. Fatigued, hungry/thirsty, undercarriages pretty much completely shot (trampoline for a seat again, no padding on the seat or my rear), we made the ride and loved it. More great scenery, more little villages and people (all very friendly). The last stretch we hit after coming down from on high out into an enormous waving field. Red and yellow long grains waving in the wind, soft watery looking, colors changing, look over there at that woman pop her head up to check out life above the chaff as we dart past, sunlight caressing the crops and the people and life. Wonderful. Rachelle made me ride ahead so she could get a pic of me out in this vast 'nothingness'. I think I just stank and she was tired of riding in the waves of my stench.

Great ride again.

To make up for all the work we'd done that day, we had dinner twice. Yup, you heard that right (I hope I am not repeating stories. I can'tcheck that pesky blog of mine), 2 dinners! We walked over to the whitewashed Tourist Market for Rachelle to shop. She changed her mind, too much work. Heading back to our hotel, we passed a place (Hard SeatCafe) with a sign offering: "Buy 2 drinks get one free". Can't beat that! Sit we did, drink we did (one), which aroused our hunger. Weate. Not nearly as good as the food off the Tourist Market, so we complained to each other. And decided to hit our regular place for one serving of fried rice. We did and had another beer ($0.30 for a dueceduece! Good times!) as well.

Falling asleep was not a problem that night!

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Name: Corey
Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I'm on a journey with no destination. The path is constantly changing direction but there are always adventures to be had. "Never" and "always" have left my lexicon.

WWW http:/www.jimspeak.blogspot.com