|Another solid week of tennis and fitness training and our enjoyment of China continues to grow! We were really looking forward to this weekend’s adventure in Yangshuo, part of the Guangxi Region of China. Yangshuo is know for their Karst Peaks (limestone formations that protrude up into the air forming individual mountains). This district is world renowned for it’s rock climbing and mountain biking. Our next visit my dad will organize a mountain bike tour of the rural areas. Yangshuo itself and the town center called “West Street” is very touristy. It has been a backpackers destination since the 1980’s and many famous musicians and artists have been inspired while staying there.
As our fast train left Guangzhou, I experienced a whole new perspective of poverty in China. We passed countless complexes with low standard living conditions surrounded by factories producing goods to sell and trade all over the world. Guangzhou is a major exporting city in China. Two and a half hours later, we de-boarded the “bullet” train after arriving in Yangshuo, my dad and I made our way outside and were so confused; as we looked around there was one road, a parking lot, and many aggressive drivers trying to make money. Nowhere to be seen was a town of any sort. My dad then led me into a small building (although neither one of us knew what it was) where we purchased city bus tickets. This ended up being one of the most incredible fifty minute tours of the rural areas in China imaginable. Some of these areas showed signs of families not having access to electricity or running water, where clothing was minimal, but nevertheless we still saw smiles everywhere.
My dad described the feeling we had while visiting Yangshuo as a true example of Ying and Yang; the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape and the hustle and bustle of the crazy night markets. In the morning we were peacefully flowing down the Yulong river on a bamboo skiff past some of the most dramatic mountain views which I have ever seen; in fact, these mountains are the picture on the back of the Chinese $20 yuan! Then when the evening came, it was PARTY PARTY PARTY…we had so much fun taking pictures of local artisans, watching mobs of people, strolling through cool market booths and tasting local food. We shopped and bought a few gifts, tasted tea, and ordered custom t-shirts that were sized all wrong (hahaha…funny story you can ask me about later).
The Guangxi region is know for the age of many of its residents exceeding 100 years. In fact, the area is starting to become a popular destination to visit in order to figure out why the lifespans are so long; I think that it is the simple existence combined with natural food and no sugar. China is starting to develop many rural “retirement” settlements in these very remote areas for the elderly to leave the over populated cities to live their lives.
Our second night walking down West street (the busy pedestrian street with all of the vendors), my dad and I both agreed that as much as we love these weekend trips, it is so nice to go back to our peaceful location Guangzhou. When we entered the apartment after the 2 hour train ride I said, “Wow, this feels like our second home, I can’t wait to bring mom back”. We now have only 3 days left in China until we are off to Thailand, Cambodia, and Japan; it has felt like we have been here, which we have, for so long but it is crazy to think that the adventure is only half over. Our time in China has been absolutely unforgettable and I can’t wait to return someday soon.