A Scalene Triangle... (Adventures in Accommodations in Yangshuo) [NEW POST]
There's a big update gap prior to that, but everything prior to
** Beijing - Day 5 - I was Not lost; I'd just intentionally misplaced myself. [PHOTOS added]
is also as new as it'll ever get.
Would it be useful/helpful for you to know the most recent post I've updated?
Since I'm mostly backposting anyway, I'd hate for you to have to go searching to check... I dunno. Just a thought. If so, leave me a comment and let me know.
"Oh NO," you say, "then I will have to search for the posts I have not read!"
Never fear, fearless adventurers... I've come up with an excessively complex and wonderful organizational system to keep things clear, if not actually convenient.
Entries marked with a single asterisk (*) are new, or edited significantly enough that they ought to count as new. Entries marked with double asterisks (**) are old, but have been updated with active links to photos, for your viewing pleasure.
The photos are actually more likely to go up before I get around to finishing the posts, so if you have a craving to just see some photos with only minimal storytelling to go with, feel free to browse over @ my flickr account. This is the best place to start, if you're interested, as it serves as a Table of Contents to my trip photos, and links to all my other photos as I get them up.
Hope you enjoy - I certainly enjoyed the trip, and it seems to have my usual rosy touch in the retelling, give or take a rant or two for added colour, of course. Cheerio, my dears.
PS. It amuses me that 'readership' reminds me of the word 'mothership'. Thought I'd mention.
I have a very long to-do-list and very little time to do it in.
And I spent all of today either sleeping or talking to my mom. It was good times. But tomorrow... tomorrow, the old nose-to-grindstone thing starts up. I promise I'll finish this eventually, and the photos will come soon (there will be a LOT of 'making with the Flickr', trust me). But sleep, sweet sleep, calls first. G'nite dear kittens, it's been a beautiful adventure, and no matter my rants along the way, I say only one thing, for now:
I want to go back. :)
(1) today, I bought a hanging painting/wall scroll... from a man hooked up to an IV drip at
(2) yesterday, during lunch, I played translator, as usual, but this time not for Garrett.
A good day, one of many recent such experiences, rewarding and new.
The Adventures of Complexion Boy and Language Girl are in hiatus, as Garrett and I part ways for the rest of the trip, at least in principle (there being only one hostel in Suzhou means we will likely run into each other in a few days anyway, but, 'in principle...'). Garrett left for Ningbo (����) today, enroute to Putuoshan (����ɽ), while I stick around in Hangzhou (����) for a few days longer, tying up loose ends and seeing a few more things.
In much the same way I got nervous butterflies before G and I first left the city on our own (for adventures around Guilin (����) and area), I left the hostel this morning a bit a jitters. I'd fallen asleep last night unsure of my plans today - out of town daytrip or musical instrument shopping being the options - and only settled on my final decision as I walked out the door. Really, what settled it was that no one at the hostel knew where else I could look for the erhu (����), the two stringed gorgeous piece of chinese musical instrument, that I wanted, as I'd already ruled out the fancy-looking, but snake-skin and ugly and tourist-oriented, ones I'd previously found in the area.
So, off to Anji (����), to find me some bamboo. It's funny; I wouldn't say I was nervous about getting lost or anything -- that fear seems to have dissipated with the sheer number of out of town trips ("adventures", often) that G and I have been on. After all, our trip together didn't faze me at all, despite my saying to G in the morning, and I quote, "so, just so you know, after we get off the bus in Pingyao (ƿҤ), I have absolutely no idea where or how we go next."
It's just that, despite being the one with all the research in my head for this trip, and despite being the one with the awesome language powers of awesomeness ("uhm, what do you mean by that?"), there's something more nervewracking about the idea of being dropped off by a bus at the side of the road, at a highway onramp and told to hail another random passing bus, WHEN TRAVELLING SOLO (oh, I suppose I haven't told you folk about those adventures yet, but suffice it to say that it took us FIVE different buses to get to our destination yesterday, and FOUR coming back... NOT even the same 4. sigh).
So, I was a little nervous going into another out-of-town trip that I basically had the first stop on my route planned out, and absolutely no information other than "I'm looking for some sort of large bamboo forest... Could you help me out?"
HOWEVER, that being said, it worked out beautifully, all told, and makes for an unbelievably and almost stupidly self-satisfied me.
So, I take off reasonably early (only around 8:30-9) for the north bus station, and take a long-distance express bus (���) to Anji (more about Zhejiang (�㽭) province's buses later -- a big contrast to everything else we've seen). Get there around 11, have a little lunch at the bus station for super cheap (bonus seaweed soup of goodness), and then ask the restaurant folk how to see some bamboo.
Literally, that's about what I asked. "I'd like to see some bamboo. A forest, maybe?" You see, I knew that somewhere near Anji was the largest bamboo forest preserve in China (apparently where they'd also filmed some of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, if you're into that sort of thing - not a movie high on my list, rant rant), but that was basically it. No name, no town, no anything.
They direct me somewheres out front of the bus station, and I steer clear of all the cabs and pedicabs, and find myself at a loss. I ask at another restaurant, and she says I have to take a "medium" bus to get there (�а�). Still confused, I ask at the bus station, and the ticket lady is singularly unhelpful, but directs me to the bathroom (which, ps., was definitely in need of better plumbing). I notice in my wandering a tourist/tour booking building, and wander in. It seems no one is in. At all. So, I leaf freely through their selection of pamphlets and pick, nearly at random, a destination: The Big Bamboo Sea (����), thinking that 'big' seems like a good way to see a pretty awesome bamboo spot.
I finally find someone, travel-agent-esque, and ask, through multiple questions, how to get to this sea of bamboo -- apparently I take this bus from inside the bus station, but buy a ticket ON the bus, not at the ticket window (hence why the ticket lady was shooing me off). I wander inside again, back through the area that's supposed to normally be 'tickets only', and find a big orange public-transit looking bus (#205, if you were wondering) that has my destination on it -- I ask again, and yay, hurrah, after some waiting, we're off (and for only Y4, no less!)
The conductor-lady is wonderfully helpful, and tells me to get off the bus at the last stop, where I have to change buses, but, wonderfully enough, don't have to pay again (this is very NEW to me). Getting off the bus, I'm a little sketched out by the empty white minibus I'm supposed to get into, and definitely pointed at it and asked her again, "you mean, this one?" - thankfully, the conductor of that one, a sweet and very skinny old chinese man came over, and all problems were solved. Again, some small amount of waiting, and we're off! I figure out where and when the last bus leaves to go home, having learned an important lesson from the TWO last buses G and I missed, and I wander into the bamboo sea.
More accurately, I scramble through the chinese tour group sea, and finally get to some paths through the bamboo. Gorgeous stuff, as always, and going backwards through the paths, I find that I manage to avoid more of the tourist hordes... Lots of pretty to be seen.
Only two troubles.
One, it is afternoon now. It is 37 degrees out. It is sunny. I am sweating BUCKETS. Like dripping freaking sweating, bandana now being used as facecloth/sweat-absorber kind of sweating.
So, why not flee to the gorgeous shade of the bamboo woods, you ask?
This brings me to, Two, freaking mosquitoes. HORDES OF FREAKING MOSQUITOES. As I tend to be a tasty enough individual that I seem be the only one to get eaten alive even when there's only one moustique and 6 other people in a room, HORDES = BAD.
Hordes = killing lots of mosquitoes, splattering my blood and probably others in little star-patterns all over my legs, and itching like there's no tomorrow. Wishing I'd been smart enough to bring bug spray to the WOODS. I somehow forgot that bamboo FOREST still means FOREST still means BUGS.
Anyway, so, I didn't really get to enjoy the woods so much, between the heat in the sun, and the "OMG I can't stop moving for even a second or I'll be eaten alive" in the shade (I'm not even exaggerating one bit. I swear), but it was pretty while it lasted, and mostly just very rewarding, the getting-there-all-on-my-own.
Anyway, to top off my wonderful day, I had dinner at an old fave, a noodle place in the neighbourhood that does GREAT soup, and then saw a SPECTACULAR sunset reflecting off the West Lake waters.
And, as an unexpected bonus, I even got my long-awaited scooter-ride, though the scooters in this city are all not only electric, but have bike-pedals, being sort of a bike-scooter hybrid. Scooter in appearance/design, electric bike in practice. I didn't get to drive, though, which is sad, and I did have to fend off the somewhat over-enthusiastic "oh you speak english, and understand when I say things in chinese! what are you doing tomorrow? can we hang out? I'm free. I'll walk you home." reaction of the guy I met on the bridge at West Lake to get it. :P But, that's the price I seem to pay for scootering. So be it.
Indie me begins here, I say. AVAST. YARRRRRRRR. =)
Funny, this is the first time in a while that I've really had a craving to blog, despite the fact that the past few days haven't been especially eventful in any touristy sense.
However, feed the craving, I say...
I'm in Hangzhou now, and it's a lovely place -- in fact, despite the rain, I've been loving the weather, as it's been relatively cool, which makes 6hours of walking bearable, nay, wonderful, along the shores of a willow-lined lake, lotus-blossoms everywhere. Worlds of pretty, indeed, though I admit, I wish the mugginess would lift just enough that I could see the opposite shore now and again, hm...
One of the campuses for Zhejiang University is right nearby, and I think, for the first time, I may just have found a uni campus that can compete with UBC in terms of gorgeousness. I hear SFU has a joint compsci degree with said uni, and am admittedly tempted by the possibility, despite having no interest in a compsci degree (sorry my sweet wonderful compsci friends -- just not my kettle of fish, at all).
Anyway, spent the whole day at the lakeside today, and loved every minute -- well, okay, exaggeration perhaps. Some less perfect moments included:
- lunch, where we were first told that they were out of the pumpkin biscuit things I wanted to try (fine, whatever), then told in 10 minutes that they were out of the two kinds of noodles we'd ordered (though ALMOST everything else was still available... we do pick well, I know), and then told in another 10 min that they were out of noodles ALTOGETHER. At this point, we left, and found another place to eat, where we got freshly made noodles in about 5 minutes or so. Much better. At least the folk at the first place were apologetic enough, though, and our waiter even sent someone else back to our table to tell us the bad news the third time around -- I think he was a bit worried about our reaction (and rightly so). This was still a vast improvement over the place in Yangshuo, who waited 40 minutes to tell us that we weren't going to get the main dish we'd ordered, though we could still have the veggies, 40 minutes after the fact, and NOT A SINGLE APOLOGY for this snafu. Fools. We were thoroughly unimpressed with that place.
- the guy who asked me for change - now, I should note, this is a very common occurence in China, and I've yet to fully piece together my opinions on the matter (that post is coming, eventually, I promise), but this one was more 'interesting' than the usual, from a moral dilemna/philosophical debate perspective. The guy began by telling his story, unusual, certainly, and more so, because his story, apparently, is that he stole someone's bag at some point (stole all of Y5, he says), got caught by the police, and ended up in jail for 6 months. He apparently was just released yesterday, and has since then, only had two buns to eat. Hence, the asking for change for food. Now, first, you might notice that I say 'apparently' a lot, since I'm rather cynical of most stories I get (unfortunate, really - I don't like things that make me cynical). But more than that, it brought up an interesting idea, morally speaking, of who is more 'deserving' of assistance, shall we say bluntly.... While I like the idea of forgiveness, of second chances, in principle, I am still less inclined to be sympathetic to situations brought on by oneself - nevermind the able-bodied vs. elderly or crippled debate, which needn't even enter the picture here. I don't know - I find it hard to put into words, and I wonder whether it is more valuable to help someone 'able', in the hopes that they will return to being a fully-contributing member of society, or someone less-so, who has no options available to them, but also will never be able to give back in quite the same manner. Evolutionary survival of the fittest, or a society that can care for the weak, one that can keep the monsters out, as someone once said.
I don't really have an answer yet, but I'm working on it. Not on an answer, per se, but simply on piecing together where I stand, or at least where I wobble. =) You know, what'll break principle and where the grey lines are. Important things to think about.
Anyway, I should get going, get some sleep, as tomorrow I think I want to do a little day trip out of town, which means up early early, methinks. However, I leave you with my incomplete stories to ponder, as always, including this tidbit: Someone said to me this morning, "I won't leave without saying goodbye", and true to dramatic movie form, that's of course the only time it doesn't happen. Boo. I wouldn't even have minded in the least, I think, as dinner and Little Mermaid lyrics late at night were quite enough for me, but with a cheesy statement like that, kitten, one ought to follow through. Silly of me, I know, especially with a youngling like that, but... You know. Me. Cheesy. Goodness me. =P =)