One lesson to learn in life is that you just can’t depend on other people to send you pictures. My camera Stacey spent most of the time in Yangshuo safe at the hostel or in a locker while I participated in activities that were not Stacey-friendly.  I’ve been procrastinating this post because Matt had promised to send me the pictures he took on his awesome waterproof camera. It’s not just waterproof but shockproof and mudproof and just generally lifeproof. I need one. Anyway, Matt disappeared back to Utah, never to be heard from again. So my words will have to paint pictures for you.

Back to Yangshuo. Saturday April 30th 2011

Yangshuo is a really amazing place and I highly recommend visitors to China making a stop there. I could not believe how clear the air was and how clean the rivers were.

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Picturesque scenery.... and a McDonalds.

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Fishermen with their cormorants. The birds have rings around their necks that keep them from swallowing the fish they catch.

 
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When it finally got late enough that the travel agencies were open we spent an hour in one discussing our options for the day. In the end we broke into two groups. I was in Group Awesome or the adventure group, as we called ourselves. The other members of this daredevil group were Matt, Jo, Stephanie, Cecilie and Sven. None of us had ever met Sven before, he was a lone German traveller from Shanghai who happened to come into the travel agency just as we were leaving. 

We rode bikes through picturesque countryside to the Yulong river. At the river we boarded bamboo rafts, each propelled by guides using long poles. I was sharing my raft with Matt because at that point I was still talking to him because he had not yet betrayed my trust by failing to email me the pictures he promised. The water was cool and clear and the day was warm so, risking reprimand from the Chinese I decided to jump in. It felt great. After my little dip Matt decided to do a back flip off of the chair. Our guide didn’t seem to mind and the Chinese tourists were greatly entertained.

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Stefanie and Cecile on a bamboo raft. They bought this picture from the photographers who had a business set up on a large floating platform in the river, taking photos of tourists.

After the raft rides the other girls wanted to do some swimming too so the 5 of us had fun jumping off a bridge while Sven (not dressed for swimming) took pictures. He put these pictures on a CD and sent it to Matt but apparently it got lost in the mail. Not that it matters because even if Matt had received it, I still wouldn’t have the pictures.

Matt, who loves jumping off of things more than just about anything in life, (including sending pictures to people who trusted him) really wanted to jump off of the Dragon bridge but we weren’t sure exactly where it was. Every person he asked gave him a different answer about how far away it was. Some said we could get there in half an hour on bikes while others said it would take at least 3 hours. We decided to try anyway and to enjoy a ride in the countryside even if we never made it to the bridge. On the way Matt met a lady who said she lived near there and we could follow her home if we liked. Soon we had a caravan of bikes following her through tiny villages, past rice paddies and around large plodding cows. It took about an hour but we found the bridge and Matt’s purpose was soon complete. To the awe of an audience of both locals and camera-toting tourists he did a double backflip off of the 600 year old 9m high stone bridge. Several times. 

On the way back to Yangshuo I was in the front of the group going at a reasonably quick pace when Sven suddenly yelled that I needed to turn right. I tried my best to obey but didn’t alas, I didn’t make the turn. I ended up on my back in the dirt with the bike on top of me. Ouch. My left palm was torn up and I had grazes on my right shoulder and leg but I think the biggest casualty was my pride. There’s just no way to recover gracefully from a spill like that. I considered pretending to be REALLY hurt but instead went the “I’m not hurt at all” route and hopped back on my bike as nonchalantly as I could. What, that? That’s just blood. No big deal, I’ve got plenty. 

We got back to Yangshuo without further incident. We were all sunburned by the time we got there. Where was all the rain that had been forecast? We had expected thunderstorms all weekend! Instead we got sun.

We had a quick lunch and then met the others at the travel agents where we hopped in a mini van for our next excursion. We went to the part of the Li river that is pictured on the 20 RMB note. 

   

  
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See, right there! I was there. It was just like that! But in color. And with boats full of tourists. And now every time I encounter a 20 RMB note I have to tell people this. Here’s the 20 I owe you and look! I was there! 

We had a nice little cruise up the river and back again on a flat bottomed motorized boat. The scenery was just beautiful.

Back in town we had dinner in a pizza place then returned to the hostel where we finally checked in. We showered and changed and checked out the hostel’s rooftop bar. The mountains were lit up at night, which was pretty cool looking. Matt and I went out for juice because we were still friends at that point because I didn’t know he was a lying picture-withholding traitor.

   
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The lit-up mountains make a stunning backdrop to Monkey Jane's rooftop bar.

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