Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring Break Part 3- Yangshuo Adventures

Seriously, are you tired of hearing about our trip yet? If not, maybe you haven't read this and this. Here is just a chronicle of the adventures we encountered...

Exploring on Bikes
E and I only biked half the time as the boys. On our biking adventures we saw lots of cool things, mostly in the farming villages. 
Enjoying fresh sugar cane.

Look what this monkey found! The one on the right is blowing him a kiss.
By the time our trip ended, D had almost been run off the road by a tour bus and hubby crashed over his handle bars pretty badly. Not surprising, if you know him.

 Wet Caves
We have no pictures uploaded for this next adventure because we locked the camera in a locker and we bought professional pics, but haven't scanned them I will try to paint you a picture with my words.
 Hubby had mentioned that he was interested in going into some wet caves and possibly going into the mud baths. I didn't give it too much thought as I imagined it being too much money and him giving up on the such luck! A sudden wave of, "I'm going to put down all of my fears and inhibitions and go with the flow" hit me and I soon found ourselves, on our bikes, searching for Mama Moon who promised to give us a good deal on entrance tickets to the Gold Water Cave. As you can see in the pictures above, you walk through a deep dark cave. When we first arrived with our guide, the lights had gone out (NOT A GOOD THING IN A CAVE) so we had to wait a few minutes. The first thing I noticed was how cold it was. I was not looking forward to going into the bowels of the earth, as I have a tendency to be claustrophobic, but I was still trying to manage my worries. E, on the other hand, was not having any of it. She was complaining of not feeling good. We did not know whether she really was ill or she was being a "teenager"- she turned 14 a few days before. 

Finally, the lights were fixed...darn, I was hoping they'd tell us we couldn't go in. Actually the first part was interesting. The stalagmites and stalactites were very, very impressive and they were all illuminated in very ornate, funky colors. Our guide would point to sections and tell us what they represented (in other words, what they somewhat resembled). Unlike the caves in California, this cave went on and on and on and there were multiple "rooms". 

Eventually we got to a deep section of the cave where we were to go into a hollow section, put on our swimsuits and get into the mud bath. I had come this far, there was no turning back now. But E was really not doing well and had to be escorted out of the cave to find the bathroom (trough in ground). Let's just say, when your kid tells you they aren't feeling well...they probably aren't really feeling well! Poor kid! Lesson learned!

So hubby, D and I stepped into the mud and I was freaking out on the inside, wondering what was going to attack me from below! The mud was super cold! As we walked further we sank as if in quicksand. We had seen pictures of people covered in mud, I guess because it is supposed to be good for your skin. I am a follower, so if they did it, I would do it too. But it was so cold...I really couldn't wait to get out. We stayed in the mud for about 10 minutes and showered off in a nearby vessel of the cave with freezing cold water. It was torture because you couldn't go into the HOT spring until every bit of mud was off of you...but did I mention how cold it was? For once and all we made it to the hot spring, which was another pool in the middle of the cave. This water was a delightful temperature and that part was thoroughly enjoyable. What wasn't enjoyable was stepping out and having to get dressed without any towels to dry off with. I guess we really should've bought those when they were selling them at the entrance. TIP: wear your swimsuit under your clothes and BRING your own towel! Soon enough we were dressed and on our bikes back to our lovely retreat

Impression Sanjie Liu Light Show
We had heard from multiple sources that the show on the Li River in Yangshuo is something not to be missed. This was my excursion choice, and the most expensive. Why are my choices always the most expensive? It cost us just under 1,000 yuan (a whopping $150 USD). I mean it, we never spend 1,000 yuan on anything here in China! But we knew it could be a memory to last a lifetime!
The show is created by the gentleman who created the opening and closing ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics.

Well...yes, there were parts of the show that were outstanding, fantastic and awesome! Like these...sorry they are not great quality!
Over 600 locals from Yangshuo and the surrounding villages perform nightly, rain or shine!

The stage is part of the river.
These are men on bamboo rafts with large red ribbons, "dancing" across the river.
All those little lights in the foreground are people recording on their iPhones.

This part was my favorite part.

You may recall these "lighted people" from the Olympics. There are hundreds of them walking on hidden platforms on the river. It looks as if they are walking on water. The lights "dance" to the music.
 There were just certain reasons I couldn't walk out of the show saying, "That was SO good!" Most of those reasons have to do with the fact that I am not Chinese...for example, we could not understand the storyline at all. Not just because of the language barrier, but because the show did not flow all that well and, at parts, seemed random. Which leads me to the other example of why Chinese people would appreciate it better. Our cultures think differently...period. What is entertaining to one culture, may not be to another. Have you seen Peking Opera? Point made. At one point in the show a group of little girls came out, cute as can be, and just screamed at the top of their lungs! Sure, it somewhat resembled music to me, but to a Chinese person it most definitely was music. The other thing about the Chinese culture is that people talk, LOUDLY, during any show we've been to. Also, before the end of this show many stood up to leave but then remained standing in front of their seats when they learned something interesting was still going on. Just different from makes me wonder what their thoughts of us are when they visit America.

All in all, we are definitely glad we went to the show. After all, these experiences are what helps us to learn about the culture we are living in. One last thought on the show...Disney has set the bar extremely high in the realm of water shows! We kept waiting for Chinese pyrotechnics, but sadly there were none. 

Bamboo Raft Rides
Yu Long River
This is the river right outside our hotel room. It is calm and peaceful and we saw many a rafter being glided on the water by a Chinese man with a long bamboo pole. It was our turn so we rode our bikes up the river a ways, paid for the rides and for them to transport our bikes down to the end and we were off. E and I rode in one, while the boys rode in the other. 

The chairs naturally recline. The scenery was breathtaking.
 Every once in a while the river would get crystal clear and there would be a slight tiny fall where the driver would so gently take us down. We did have to put our feet up so that our shoes would not get wet.
 Oh, what are those up ahead?
 What we were not prepared for was every few seconds being bombarded with little make-shift islands in the middle of the river trying to sell us stuff! It was a little disappointing because it really took away from the relaxation of the ride. At the first one the woman offered us a cold drink. When we said no she asked us to buy a beer for our driver. I asked how much and she said 30 yuan, they sell for no more than 15 yuan everywhere else. So we passed, thinking it was over...oh no! We continued to be haggled all the way down the river. What is amazing is that these people have full desk top computers, printers and everything out in the middle of this river, on bamboo man-made islands...interesting!

Here is the extortion story...without saying anything our driver decided to pull over at one of the "islands". E and I continued to sit on the raft and watch him open a beer, take a seat and nibble on some peanuts. By this time hubby and D pulled up on their raft too. The lady was cooking fish from the river and some chicken parts on a little hibachi. She asked if we wanted any and D, of course, wanted some chicken...for 40 yuan!! A piece of chicken for 40 yuan ! That was more than our entire breakfast of four pieces of french toast, fresh fruit, a bacon and cheese omelette and two glasses of fresh squeezed orange juice! 

And that is not even the kicker! The kicker is that we had to pay for our driver's beer that he just assumed we would buy! Now I am not the frugal one in the family and even I was irritated... hubby was not going to allow his driver to extort us like that so he walked up to his driver and offered him the 30 yuan in cash, instead of a 30 yuan beer. His driver took the cash and the lady who we paid started yelling and screaming at him! They continued to argue as our kids finished the chicken and our driver finished his beer. 
Our driver enjoying his beer.

I hope that chicken wing is super good!
 Of course, for the remainder of the ride the boys were teasing us that our driver was drunk! Fun times, fun times!

Cave dwelling
Part of the explorations included checking out some caves in the rocks.

City of Yangshuo- West Street
There is a pedestrian only street in Yangshuo with shops and restaurants. It was fun to see different things that we see in Beijing.

Li River Bamboo Motor Raft Ride
This river, in the city of Yangshuo is bigger and more rapid than the YuLong River. We decided to take a motorized raft ride. You can also take a full size boat from Guilin (near the airport) all the way to Yangshuo, about five hours. 

At one point they pull over and want you to get off, get dressed up in costume, take a picture and buy it. If you haven't guessed we usually don't do stuff like that.

That is the end of our trip to Yangshuo. If you ever are in China, make it a point to go there! Where else in the world do you see such interesting landscape? It is also nice to see a different part of China than the cities!
Zai Jian!


john:and:aim said...

WOW! Simply amazing! Those mountains - I would love to see in person someday. Thanks for sharing all your fun adventures. Makes me want to be a world traveler like you guys!

lynne said...

What a memorable trip!!! I can't believe you got in the cold mud. you are way braver than me - i would NEVER try something like that, which is kinda sad actually.