Tai Chi, Calligraphy and footwear disaster
After an overnight train-ride, a bus and some tuk-tuks we arrived at our destination in Yángshuò. It was peeing it down but we still went out for a stroll. Yángshuò is completely different to anywhere we’ve been in China as, although it had a touristy feel with a large number of Westerners strolling around, it was a stunning place surrounded by huge limestone mountains. Sadly because of the tourists there were a massive number of vendors all out to try and snag an unsuspecting Westerner so we felt a little heckled as we walked down the main strip. However we managed to escape and found our way down to the river. It was a beautiful spot and we stayed there for a while, just soaking in the scenery until it was time for bed.
The next day we discovered a downside to Yángshuò - no supermarkets!!! As we shop buy all of our food, as opposed to eating out for each meal, we were at a loss of what to do. We found one that sold our precious pot-noodles so tea was sorted but for breakfast and lunch there was nothing. Wandering in despair it was with luck that we stumbled across a bakery. This is quite a rarity in China as they don’t really eat bread so have no need of them. We ended up buying a huge sandwich that had been soaked in egg and cheese with ham in the middle. It’s indescribable just how good it tasted and they had some gorgeous buns for our lunch too. Sorted!
We had been given a list of activities we could do in Yángshuò and had selected two of them; tai chi and calligraphy. First up was the tai chi; our instructor took us along to the river that we had discovered the first day. There, overlooking the beautiful scenery, he took us through the first ten steps of tai chi. It was quite easy to learn and we both had a good time exercising, however a large group of Chinese people had gathered around us and most of them were taking photos which was very distracting. They finally took heed of Rach’s mind control and left us alone in peace to enjoy the remainder of the lesson. We had a few hours left of the day and as Yángshuò is the perfect place for a wander, we just walked around all the shops once more before it was time for our glorious pot-noodle.
The following morning being as how we were in an area of some formidable limestone peaks with several of the other members of our group we set off on a rock climbing expedition. We pulled up and after climbing into our gear got started off. Rach had volunteered to be the official photographer and so spent her time with her neck craned towards the heavens. Alex had an amazing time scaling the walls and managed to get a few difficult climbs under his belt. Seeing this, the instructor decided to really test him and set him to work on a vicious overhang. He gave it a couple of goes and very nearly made it over but was defeated in the end and retired with a bruised and battered arm. The instructor then gave us all a lesson in how to climb like a spider and practically leaped over the entire thing wearing just his trainers!
After we’d had our fill we headed back for the hotel to wait for our afternoon activity, a slightly more relaxing one of calligraphy. When the time finally came to leave we set out with our leader Joy and it was as we were walking down the street that the truly devastating incident happened. As we were minding our own business a flagstone of the pavement maliciously rose up into the path of Alex’s oncoming havaiana and, bam, it was the tragic death of a faithful comrade. The toe strap had snapped and it was all over, no amount of resuscitation could bring it back and so hopping Alex had to make his way onto the calligraphy session.
It was a really good session and it wasn’t long before Rach started to get the hang of it. Alex’s technique was a little more subtle and as a result his characters became more abstract works of art than anything else. We learnt to write our names, (always useful) and then Rach persuaded the teacher to show her how to write love and she wrote out Rach loves Alex (awww!). Soppiness over and done with we rolled up our efforts and headed back for a quick snack on a delicious Chinese burger before setting off for our longest overnight train yet!
Rex’s Rules of the Road
- Don’t feel pressured by the vendors in the streets trying to sell you activities. Just say a solid no and if they persist just ignore them.
- Always carry superglue to fix any broken flip-flops. It can also be useful in other circumstances but this is definitely the main use.
- Rock climbing can be really fun but if you do go make sure that everything is included and check all the safety gear over once before using it. China isn’t exactly renowned for its health and safety after all.