As I said previously, Yangshuo is small, especially when compared to the other destinations on this trip. It doesn't have the monuments of Beijing, the dazzle of Shanghai or the aura of Hong Kong. What it does have are lots of activities which are in the countryside. These are all easy to get to - on a bike.
Those of you who know me can probably list off a number of faults that I may have, but the one that always stuns people is the fact that I can't ride a bike. I'll correct that - couldn't ride a bike, until 3 weeks ago, when I borrowed a bike and practised until my tailbone hurt. I'm still terrible on it, so today was going to be the acid test of my new skills. Today Yangshuo, tomorrow Le Tour?
We were going to a water cave, so five of us grabbed lunch and then rented bikes. It turned out that the girl, Judy, also wasn't too hot at cycling, so she went on a tandem. That offer was also made to me. As a joke.
So away we went. It was a nice bike - everything worked, unlike on my learning bike - and a nice ride. I came off once. We had gone through a treacherous tunnel, which was bumpy, covered with wooden planks and home to heavy traffic. Chinese-style traffic. A minute later we realised we were going the wrong way, so went back through, but on the elevated pavement. The elevation was too steep for my novice ability, so I crashed into the barrier. Oh well, I wouldn't have gotten that far a month ago!
In intense heat, we cycled alongside the mountains and past some wonderful scenery, passing a butterfly spring cave and another attraction before arriving at the water cave office (you get a bus to the cave itself). They tried to charge us 320Y each. We paid 100Y to a tout outside, then got on a very old, rickety bus to take us to the cave. Change of footwear into 'anti-slippers', into a boat, and into the darkness we go.
It felt like we had got on a ride in Disney World, because we were moving slowly through caves in a low boat. All it needed was someone to start singing 'It's a small world'. We soon dismounted and followed a loud woman. A loud woman made louder by a megaphone. Her English was limited to 'HELLO, HELLO' to beckon us forward.
This megaphone was being used to explain the significance of insignificant things. We made up our alternatives - a lot of which involved Predator, for some reason. Soon after, we hijacked the megaphone and used it for our own amusement; at least until we reached the first major destination, where we swam in ice-cold water pools. And splashed the Chinese tourists who wouldn't get in, naturally.
The second spot was the reason we went - a big mud pool. I didn't go to Mudfest in Korea, but this more than compensates for that. It was great fun, especially posing for pictures. Even getting it in both of my eyes, and being irritated by them for the next hour, didn't dampen my enthusiasm.
The loud woman's other tactic to move people forward was to press a button which played a really bad version of the Titanic song. We heard this and went to spot number three - hot springs. Bliss, and a great way to end.
The bus back was even worse - it was missing seats - but we then cycled back towards the cave to takes pictures of Moon Hill. A mountain with a hole in it, basically. We hit the jackpot, as we found a monkey right in the line of sight. It didn't like bananas, though. Maybe because bananas in Yangshuo are short, fat and taste more like corn.
We got back in one piece and returned our bikes. I was proud of myself for being able to ride it a lot - though, as many pointed out, about 16 years later than most. We then prepared for our final night in this wonderful little town.
Love you all