Sunday, December 19, 2010


yangshuo is a fairly short (two hour) bus ride away from guilin. we planned on spending two days in yangshuo and because we didn’t want to waste any time four of us decided to get a hostel there for one night. we heard about this really fun hostel called monkey jane’s so we went there. we couldn’t have made a better decision. when we got to the hostel a girl named sally was working. sally became our best friend for a day.

we bargained our room for the night (didn’t know that was possible but we did it and i’m so glad that we did) and convinced her to let us share a room with only two beds. that ended up being so cheap and the beds were huge so it worked out perfectly. the room had cute curtains, a bathroom, an ac that worked, and it was clean. things were working out for us. after checking in sally informed us about a deal that the hostel had with a massage place. guests at monkey jane’s got 20% off an already cheap massage. it sounded nice and it was cheap so we decided to do it. this is one of those experiences that you have to remind you that cheap is not always the best route. we only had to walk down two buildings to get to the “massage” place…aka another building owned by the hostel that has empty rooms and is a great place to have random women slap your backs while laying face down on a towel for 60 minutes and call it a massage. the whole thing was a joke but whatever-it made for a fun story to tell.

after our massages we just walked around and shopped at all of the little shops along the road. i loved the atmosphere where we were. there were so many tourists and all of the shops were so fun to look in and shop at. bargaining while shopping is really so fun for me. i was awful at it last time i was in china but i was quite a bit better this time around and had fun with it. for dinner that night we headed to kelly’s café. we heard great things about this little restaurant and we were not disappointed. they advertised that they had the best veggie burger in yangshuo so i felt like i should give it a shot. i had never eaten a veggie burger before but i absolutely loved this one. thinking about it right now is making my mouth water and stomach growl. (i loved it so much i went back the next night and got it again. shhhh don’t tell).

monkey jane’s is known for it’s rooftop view. i didn’t think much about it until i actually saw the view from the roof. it was unreal. i really felt like i was in a pretend land. it kind of felt like we were in the middle of a huge cave because the dr. seuss mountains were surrounding us and lights shown bright on each of the mountains. i can’t even describe what it was like correctly. it was just unreal. we made a deal with sally earlier that day that if we could find at least ten people to go on a tour of some caves with us the next morning that we could knock the price down a bit. so we walked around on the roof and tried to recruit. the first group of girls that we saw said they had gone to the caves earlier that day. they were so cute, so fun, and seemed like girls that we would have gotten along great with. we were bummed to find out that they couldn’t and normally we would have tried to find more people but i had this urge to keep talking to them. next thing i found out was that they were from sweden! what are the odds right? we only talked for a few minutes but i began to love them instantly and had this strange feeling when saying goodbye to them that i didn’t want to say goodbye. i love sweden! (for more than one reason now)

the next morning we walked out of our hostel and were amazed. there was no one on the street. it was only 8 am and the town was asleep. seeing no one in china is a weird feeling because there are always people everywhere. we went to breakfast because we heard rumors of banana pancakes at a restaurant near our hostel. we went to check it out and weren’t disappointed. it wasn’t what we expected but it was very tasty. the so called pancake was actually a crepe with bananas on it. in my family we have what we call apple omelets which are basically thick crepes or thin pancakes with apples on it. my banana pancakes reminded me about them and i became slightly homesick. but only for a moment because we were off to the muddy caves. the muddy caves are crazy. we went on a tour inside the cave and included in the tour were swimming times in a mud pit and a hot spring. we only brought nice swimsuits to china (don’t ask me why) so a few of us decided to buy some for really cheap before going into the caves. the swimsuits we bought are just awful. they are so ugly but they are hilarious. i couldn’t have asked for a better souvenir. they didn’t allow us to take our cameras into the cave because they took pictures for us and that is a big way for them to earn money. sadly, it was very cool inside and we took some good pictures so naturally we were sucked into buying quite a few pictures. it was worth it though. those pictures are an example of the saying a picture is worth 1000 words.

after the mud caves we grabbed lunch quick at an unsatisfying café called backstreet café. the only good thing about it was that we were able to sign the wall.

the food was awful. after we reluctantly paid the bill we headed off to rent scooters for the afternoon. my brother in law kurt says that scootering around yangshuo is probably his most favorite thing to do in china. and now i know why. it was absolutely gorgeous. we thought that the boat ride down the li river was the most beautiful thing but this experience topped that. being on a scooter in china means you can go wherever you want to. we were able to ride around little villages and experience life in such a way that i still can barely imagine. the simplicity of life there amazed me. i can’t tell you how many cows we passed (or got stuck behind for a few minutes because the path wasn’t wide enough), or the number of parents walking around with a child, just out for a stroll. we even passed some people that were washing clothes, vegetables, and gutting a duck all in the same water. it’s amazing how different life can be. around 6:30 we started heading back to turn in our scooters. brittney’s scooter was out of battery so she was coasting the whole time and national holiday had officially begun so by the time we got even close to west street (the main street in yangshuo) traffic was insane. we were weaving in and out of cars, crossing intersections with oncoming traffic, etc. it was crazy. i definitely felt more asian than i ever have.


that night before we headed back to guilin we had to earn some free shirts from monkey janes. there were a number of ways to do this but we chose to prove our strength by carrying ten cases of beer up eight flights of stairs-each. i wanted it so bad that i even took two cases at once. my arms were jello after but it was worth it. 

after we won our shirts we had to hop on a bus back to guilin. on the bus i was privileged enough to sit by a cute little boy and his chihuahua. i love dogs but you know that smell of a dog that isn’t your own? yeah that’s what i was smelling the whole time. and to make it even better the dog only had one eye so it was so creepy looking. it made me miss crea though.

anyways, the hostel arranged for us to stay somewhere else because they were booked. how sketchy is this. they gave us an address to a paint shop and told us a guy would meet us outside of it. then he led us through an alley and up five flights of stairs to our room. i didn’t see any sign or a front desk. i had no idea where i was and i didn’t like it. when the door to our room was opened the situation only got worse. smashed bugs on the wall, something dripping from the pipe into a plastic bag, towels on my bed instead of a comforter, a broken door to one of the bedrooms, no drain in the bathroom (we had to shower over the sink and toilet in order to not flood the room), and the beds were the hardest i’ve felt yet. we were miserable so we tried to find another hostel for the next night. we were going to the rice terraces and found a guest house to stay at the next night. thank goodness. 

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