General Rongwei Travel, Culture


West Street (Xi Jie)
Call of the Open Road – Yangshuo

On Sunday, May 1st we found ourselves in Yangshuo. In a word, fantastic. Karst mountains pop up out of nowhere (take a look at the photo). Like waking up in a fairytale. When we got off the bus from Guilin we started walking in the right direction. Wrong. We learned later that the Bamboo House Hostel is just a short walk from the depot. When we reached the edge of town we spotted three other lost foreigners. Two from France and one from Germany. Forutunately, the young French girl speaks excellent Putonghua (Mandarin) and was able to negotiate a ride in a tricycle truck for only four times the going price. But then there were five of us and it was getting hot. After taking us over hill and dale and cutting through every back alley in Guangxi Province we finally arrived at our destination. A vacant lot. The driver couldn’t get his trike to haul our fat asses any further so we had to carry our suitcases to the hostel. Anyway, I cut the original price of 20 yuan down to 10 and ended up only paying twice the price.

After checking in, a cold shower and a nap we had supper at Cafe China on West Street. Now let me tell you about West Street. As far as I’m concerned it is the coolest street that I have found in China so far. Yes, still a little dirty, (a clean street by Chinese standards) but lined with cool shops and great bistros and bars. Foreign languages everywhere with people to match. Wonderful Chinese and Western food. Young backpackers, families, tour groups and tons of Chinese hoping to practice their English. We joined up with a group of travelers from, uh let’s see, Holland, Germany, Israel, Canada and one USAlien (yours truly). Most of us were teaching English either in China or Japan, but a few of us had real jobs and a few of us had no jobs. Oh, okay, professional tourists. Anyway, it was fun.

The next morning (closer to noon) we rented a couple of bikes and took the self-guided tour. Actually, we spotted a couple who had hired a guide for the day and we sneaked along behind them. They finally eluded us somewhere out in the middle of nowhere. But it was cool. No, actually it was getting hot. I spotted a river that had a few local boys bobbing in it and I dove in. I dove out again fairly quickly because the current was stronger than I thought. It was enough to cool down though.

The next day, for some reason, we got on bikes again. Now, let me just say that it is one thing to ride a bike the next day when you are young. It is quite another to ride a back the next day when you are, umm, chronologically challenged. I sat on one cheek, then the other, then I stood on the pedals and then I got off. We were with “the Yangshuo Gang” so I wasn’t able to lag “behind” for too long.

That’s all for now.