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Travel Tuesdays | Yangshuo, China

Yangshuo China Ottawa Travel Photographer_0015Yangshuo is a popular tourist destination for people in China, and that much was obvious when we got off the bus. The streets were full of people who were clearly on vacation. The city of Yangshuo is beautiful, but it’s the surrounding karst landscape that really steals the show. And with hostel beds at $1.50 each and full western meals for even less, this place was paradise.

Our hostel was clean and super cheap. It had a lounge with English movies (not subtitled) and was full of western backpackers that we could easily converse with. Keep in mind that during this trip we’d been living in Korea for over a year, and we were welcoming any signs of home. During the day we rented bicycles to tour the surrounding area and towns. Bike rentals were $1/day, keeping our daily budget well under $10 for both of us, and that included alcohol (which was $1/litre of beer during happy hour.
A BLT went for $1.50 with fries and a “salad.” It was made with a fresh french baguette, and genuine bacon. I was in heaven, as it was my first bite of proper bread in a year. I had this meal twice a day while we were there. At happy hour I had it with a litre of chilled beer. One day, we followed directions in our Lonely Planet book for a bike ride through the farm fields. It was quite the adventure because the directions consisted of gems like “turn right at the big haystack,” “cross at the fifth river you come across,” and “take the dirt path next to the large tree.” Since they’d been written three years earlier, we were prepared for the possibility that we’d end up utterly lost, but we went for it anyways, and it was nothing short of amazing. Nothing weird about this, until Rob jumps in and ends up looking like a giant. They farmer’s eyes were as big as saucers, and I can’t say I blame him.Easily the best moment of the day was, while biking through a fruit orchard, Rob turned his head to look at something and drove right off the path. He flew over his handle bars and four feet down into the orchard. I laughed so hard I peed a little! Thank God he didn’t have any broken ribs or a concussion, but to this day I can still picture it perfectly and it makes me laugh every time. We paid 50 cents to ferry our bikes across the river.Here we stayed for a little while with our feet in the river. After an hour or so, locals and tourists were jumping off the bridge, so we decided it must be pretty safe. It was hot – well over 40 degrees, and we were sluggish from overheating. After a 30 minute swim we were refreshed and ready to keep exploring.These little guys were lugging this cart from one end of a field to another. Rob pretended to jump in and urged them to pull him. They were squealing with laughter at the impossibility of it. In the evenings, we went to a hostel down the road that screened double-header movies outside. The hostel had cushions and chairs spread around, and they projected the movie onto a white sheet and sold popcorn in little paper bags. They opened with a western movie and finished with a Chinese movies with English subtitles, and the latter were a nice glimpse into the culture, and we wondered if the blatant propaganda was meant to be taken seriously, or if it was a satire.

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Ottawa, Ontario