Guangxi Trip - Day 1 - Yangshuo

with less than a month to go i needed to start knocking some things off my to do in china list.  a big was was going to the guilin area and floating down a river and seeing rice terraces and all that southern china stuff.  I made the jump and did it in 5 days.  I went by myself.  As i have typed before its not as fun when you're alone but i ddin't have a choice all my friends have regular jobs and don't want to go here anyway.  Their loss.  It was amazing.  Some back info:

Guangxi province is in southern china.  Yunnan provice and Vietnam border it.  It is technically the Zhuang Autonomous region.  Here is something from wickipedia about that:  In all Chinese autonomous regions the Party Secretary, who is the real power base, is Han Chinese(something like 70% of chinese people are han chinese). An Autonomous Region has a higher population of a minority ethnic group. There are five autonomous regions in China: Tibet (with tibetian people), Guangxi (zhuang people are the highest 32% but also has Dong, Yao, Miao,and gelao) Xinjiang (with Uyghur people), Inner Mongolia (the Mongols), and Ningxia (the Hui).  So basically Autonomous region is a nicety because a Han Chinese gov't guy still rules.  I will get back to minority ethinic groups later on since there are so many in this region.  85% of the worlds star anise is grown in guangxi and it is a key ingredient in the antiviral Tamiflu.

this is what i packed.  all fit in my ultra cool laptop backpack.  some items of note.  earplugs (i am addicted to them and they really help), that sleeping mask i bought the other week (also really helps), little bag of bandaids, advil, diareahha meds, japanese study notebook, 2 pairs of clothes (kind of a mistake because yes clothes do dry in a day when air dried but i forgot that although i am an incredibly strong superman with kungfu grip i still do not have the strength of a washing machines centripetal force to remove water from clothes.  so basically everything was still sopping wet when i hung it up and pretty wet the next day.  It was ok though because it was so hot there.  its subtropical)

guilin is the access point for the region but everyone says it sucks so i only flew there and got out of there in 20 minutes and on to yangshuo.  here is a street in yangshuo.  dissapointed?  me too.  you always imagine a quaint green local little town.  but no yangshuo has kfc and mcdonalds.  at least it was better than guilin and had a little charm to it in areas.  the tourism bulldozer has been up in this town.  it didnt used to be like this.  soon another river town we stopped by will turn into this too.  sad.  we humans are an aweful plague.

I didn't sleep the night before cuz i had to wake up at 5 to go to the airport so by the time i got to yangshuo i was so shweeppy.  i didn't want to fight it anymore so i let one of the hawkers take me to her hotel.  it was only 60$ for the night for a double room with two beds.  i even forgot to bargain i was so tired.  later that night i would come to learn why that room was available, the window was barely a window, and there was a club probably on the other side of the wall so there was boomin bass.  at least it was a monday so it stopped at 1pm.  little did they know they didnt get the best of me because i was so destroyed aaaaand had earplugs aaaaand i didnt care anyway.  ha got you yangshuo ripoffers.  anyway i rented a bike and first rode past this.

water buffalos.  more to come

as i was riding along i keep smiling with bright eyes and saying where the F! am I! this place is amazing!

more water buffalo

yulong river and bamboo rafts.  i was gonna have them load my bike on there and raft down the river back to yangshuo but it was too late and they were packing up for the day.

netting over a long expanse of some kind of crop

hot air ballon spot

i finally got to my goal, moon hill.  was a longer bike ride than i thought.  good thing it was late in the day so it wasn't ballz.  as i was hiking up about halfway through i saw a lady in the distance among the bamboo doing something.  she was harvesting baby bamboo which is yummy.  and then out of nowhere, boom!  do you want to buy some water?  halfway up this mountain, way off the trail she comes with the hawker goods.  which brings me to another sad story, earlier i saw a guy on a motorbike sitting by himself in the middle of nowhere just chillin, not looking for anything, i went over to ask him directions and he slowly pulled out a laminated tourist map!  i gave him a dirty look and rode away.  what the heck everyone in this town does some kind of tourist crap.  i couldn't even eat breakfast at this outside cafe without 3 people coming and trying to sell me something or be my tour guide.

i had bought tickets earlier for the Zhang Yimou created show later that night and i was gonna be late for it if i didn't hustle so i ran up this mountain basically.  subtropical + me jason me schweatty guy + running up mountain = gorrilla that looks like he just took a shower. 

so the whole region is filled with Karst mountains (karst is the term for mountains or hills or watever made out of stuff like limestone that has been eaten away by acid or water or something so they are in crazy shapes as you can see).  This is the top of moon hill with this weird archway.

the payoff.  pics don't do any of this justice. 

i saw a little side trail.  i def would have made the show on time if had not taken this trail that went around the mountain to the top.  it didn't loop so i had to backtrack back adding probably 20 min.

i always thought how cool would it be to stand on the very top of one of those hills?  well i did!

here it is.  actually the view was not very cool since there were other hills obstructing stuff.  granted its all beautiful but this was not the most beautiful.  so i don't really recommend it if anyone sees this and wants to do it.  there was a lightning rod at the top and there was thunder in the distance so i got outta there quick.  there seemed to be thunder in the distance a lot of times on my trip.  guess its a normal thing there.

i was supposed to call someone on the phone to meet the group to get transported to the Zhang Yimou show.  my beijing fone didnt work there so i had to call.  didn't know what they were saying.  ended up getting this weird shuttle bus thing that looks like one of thoese things you would ride on at disney world to get from pirates of the carribean to its a small world.  i was the only one on the thing and i had to pay the lady 20 rmb or be late so i did it.  it ended up being where i had ridden my bike by earlier in the day.

the following images from the show are not mine cuz my camera is small and cannont take low light shots like these.  i found these on flickr.  anyway Zhang Yimou created this show called "Liu Sanjie" or the third sister.  i had no idea wat was going on and anyone that doesn't speak chinese won't either.  Zhang Yimou's earlie movies are arthouse and were banned in china, they are good stuff.  later he directed Hero with Jet Li and House of flying daggers.  Then recently he created the Olympic games opening and closing ceremonies in Beijing.  So the guy def uses china's people power.  they say 600 mostly locals perform in this show and that its the worlds largest natual stage.  Looked cool.

my fav part people with torches walking and on boats came from all corners to create a cool spectacle across this huge water stage.

this is china so even though the tix were expensive for china(188 rmb on the cheap end $25)  there were lots of peeps with their shirts off and tons of loud talking and phone calls being taken.  it was pretty darn hot and i wanted to take my shirt off too, don't know why i didn't.  i wanted to punch out the girls on both sides of me gabbing on the phone. 

actually i think it was better that i was in the back so i couldn't see that the "naked" girls were wearing nude suits. 

but still i knew that this was china and this show is famous so there was no way that there were really 20 girls flouncing around naked.

the finale using some of the LED technology Zhang used in the olympic ceremonies.

yangshuo at night has some charm.  i feel like Lijiang in Yunnan is more charming.

poor guy across the canal who collects money to use the public toilet.  it was sad cuz it was such a remote and super not busy corner of the town.

noticed that those poles they used to carry stuff are actually bamboo stalks split lengthwise.

one of at least 2 corn juice establishments i saw.  i have blogged before about how gross corn juice is.

people lighting one of those floating lanterns by the river.  pretty darn awesome cuz right before i came i was looking at this guy Nik Daum's blog because he went to Yangshuo also.  he also went to thailand before and saw the festival below where they let go of thousands of these things at the same time.  look at that pic below, f'inggggggg amazingggggggg.

anyway it would be cool to see this in thailand someday.  this is not my pic

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