Hi from Yangshuo, China

Currently sitting here in an Internet cafe trying to cool down after bike riding around the country side all day. It was fantastic, although I have never sweated so much in my life. Climbed all these steps up a big hill with a poor 60 year old Chinese woman fanning me all the way. I didn’t ask her to do it, but you couldn’t stop them, and then you felt like you had to give them some money or at least buy a drink from them.

The people so far are incredibly friendly, but always looking to make some money. I went cormorant fishing last night, and the guy tried to charge me 105 Yuan, when I was told it would cost 25 Yuan. He said 105, I said 25. He said 105, I said 25. And then he said (laughing) yeah of course 25. They are always trying to charge you extra, but they do it with a smile on their face. Having said that, things are incredibly cheap for us. I think 1 Yuan is 17c. This Internet cafe is costing me 2 Yuan for 1 hour.

Do you guys know what cormorant fishing is? I didn’t until I came here. Cormorants are birds, and they duck down and catch the fish, then the fisher man gets the bird and makes them bring up the fish they caught. The birds have strings around their necks so they can’t swallow the fish easily.

The Yangshuo area is stunning. We went for a ride down the Li River yesterday, which was absolutely beautiful. (Leanne: probably a bit similar to your photos from Vietnam.)

CIMG0048

Weather is fantastic – HOT!!! Around here seems to be a little less humid than Hong Kong. For those that don’t know I had my hair chopped before leaving home. It’s much more shorter and layered. To be honest it looks a bit like a mullet, but might be a bit better when it grows and I can tie it back. Anyway I arrived in Hong Kong with straight hair, and by lunchtime the humidity had made it curly. I kind of look like a shaggy dog, but at least it’s cool.

The people on the trip are very nice. The tour leader is Danish/Canadian, and the others on the trip are Australian, New Zealand, English and Swiss. The funniest guys would have to be the two 19 year old English lads. One of them is particularly naive, and we are having a heap of fun with him. The poor bloke lost his passport on one of the trains we were on. After searching the train we eventually found it in the pockets of one of the older chaps. They were all drinking and no one can remember how it got there.

The train rides are certainly an experience. It was on our first train ride that I had my first ever encounter with a squat toilet. It didn’t start well… Someone had left me a big brown surprise in the first one I went into. After doing a girly scream and running out, I decided to try my luck in another carriage. I survived. But only after a lot of indecision about which way I should face. Yes I know it makes perfect sense, but my brain wasn’t functioning. All I was trying to do was not focus on the smell.

I mentioned before that the people were friendly, well I had forgotten how pushy they can be. None of “after you” – they all just push forward and try and get on the train, even though we all had tickets and the train wasn’t due to leave. Man you could get trampled in the stampede.

We leave Yanhshuo tomorrow. We have another overnight train trip. This time in a soft sleeper. No it doesn’t mean we get softer beds. (The beds here are like bits of wood.) It just means that we have 4 bunks instead of 6, and our compartment has a door. The next stage of the trip is the Yangzu River.

Better go, off to dinner. Today is the first time I’ve really felt like eating. Must be the exercise. Up until now I just haven’t been hungry, mainly because of the heat. I sort of finish the day and realise that I’ve only had one meal, and all I’ve been doing is drinking water.

Hope things are well. 

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