Traveling alone means I can go anywhere on a whim, as long as it’s within my budget. While in Guiyang I was talking to a Brazilian dancer from Fuerza Bruta who told me that her and two friends would be going to Yangshuo after the show finished and she invited me to join them when they went a week later. So after Chongqing I made my way down to Guilin, then a two hour bus ride to the town of Yangshuo.
Yangshuo is the first real “tourist” town I’ve been to on this trip. It’s surrounded by picturesque landscapes – some of which have made it onto the back of Chinese currency. Everything is luscious green and they even have bike lanes! Most foreigners come here for the rock climbing and the majority of people I met within the city were experienced climbers.
What can I say? It was an amazing week. Three people from Fuerza Bruta were there, Flora and Talitha – both Brazilians, and Julia, a girl from Buenos Aires. Our common language was Spanish so that was what we generally spoke, with some English and Portuguese peppered in once in a while. I had forgotten how nice it was to be in a popular town and just hang out and meet people. I let the three girls use and abuse me for my Chinese language and they forced me to extend my vocabulary to include healthy dishes because they don’t eat much meat and I had meat three times a day in Chongqing because of the delicious spicy food they had there.
We started as soon as I arrived by taking a bamboo raft down the river, rented some motorbikes and just rode around the town.
The next day we went to Xinping, a nice small town about 30 minutes away on the motorbikes. The bikes are electric and the charge lasts for about 50km. It’s a nice, smooth ride but because they’re electric, they make pretty much no sound and you have to lay on the horn most of the ride to let people crossing the street know that you’re coming. It was really beautiful there and we finished the day off with ice cream soaking in Baileys Irish Cream, something I’ll definitely be doing constantly when I get back to the states.
I had messed up my left knee somehow in the past week so I couldn’t do any rock climbing but I joined everyone else on their trips to the rock walls. We hired a driver to take us to one area called “Treasure Cave” and I just laid down and watched everyone climb all day surrounded by the great scenery. For some reason almost everyone we met in Yangshuo was from Spain, specifically from Barcelona so Spanish continued to be the spoken language.
After five days the girls had to go back to their respective countries but two of them might come back to China starting at Christmas to dance again for Fuerza Bruta. I got us to Guilin to stay the night and then despite staying up to 3am drinking, we all woke up to say goodbye at 8am. I stayed for another few hours at the hostel in Guilin, pretty depressed about my friends leaving but excited to start heading down south towards Vietnam. So once again I was on my own and I realized that I hadn’t opened up my Chinese textbooks in five days. I hopped on a high speed train down to Nanning where I could apply for my Vietnamese visa for $60. It takes about three days to process so I plan on just staying at the hostel most of the time and trying very hard not to spend any money for three days.