|From L to R, top to bottom: Char, Wolfgang, Myself, Jodelle, Nalanda, Merijn, Yannick|
|Tourists: Bookbags on front, guidebook and camera in hand|
After breakfast (and dessert), we headed to the Reed Flute Caves to see some rock formations and thousand year old turtles. First scam of the trip: while in the taxi to the caves, the driver stoped in the middle of the road and informed us it would be 3 times as expensive than what he originally quoted. After several tense minutes of bargaining/strategic side glances, we agreed to pay simply to get the car moving. The caves were beautiful and we didn't see the turtles, but as we also have turtles in the United States, I don't think I missed anything.
|Looks a bit like the Hong Kong Island skyline.|
|The seven of us with the hostel owner. She gave us a pomelo, |
on which she wrote "For the 7 kids on the 4th floor :-)"
Our third day away from Hong Kong was spent on bicycles. Biking through China is literally a dream come true and I could not have asked for a more perfect day. After a delicious breakfast of Swiss Muesli, we biked from our hostel even farther into the countryside, attempting to follow the Li River. We ended up in a couple remote villages but besides getting some odd looks from the locals, there were no real problems. We ate mango with a Swiss Army knife - which the Swiss had actually cut his hand with the day before - and just enjoyed the scenery.
|On our cruisers with the famous landscape of Yangshuo as a backdrop.|
After some more tense bargaining (I suck at it, but Yannick and Char are practically professionals), we paid to take some bamboo boats up the Li River back to Yangshuo.
|Bamboo Boat is the best way to travel.|
In town, we wandered the shops and ate a ridiculous amount of food from the vendors. All delicious. Back at the hostel, we ate mooncake to celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival before hitting the sack. Traditional mooncake is an interesting taste - there's what seems like a hardboiled duck yolk in the center - but I really enjoyed it.
|We were, what you call, lost.|
Now Monday, we hiked to another really remote village. We were looking for this old military town but never actually found it. Char and Jodelle confessed to us later that towards the end of the 2 hour hike to nowhere, one of the locals offered to lead us to the old town. However, Char and Jodelle - who were tired of walking - convenientely forgot to translate that part of the conversation to the rest of the non-Putonghua speakers.
|The Big Banyan Tree: I was in charge of keeping track of|
expenses which is why I'm so concentrated on a piece of looseleaf.
After the hike and some delicious fruits, we took our rented car to see a really old tree: the Big Banyan Tree is said to be 1400 years old. While there, a weird thing began: Locals asked to take pictures with out. I mean, like a lot. It was kind of odd. We were stared at, said hello to, and requested for photos. Wolfgang and I were slightly less popular than the blondes in our group, but it was still a pretty odd sensation.
|We caused a scene.|
Our hostel for the night was far less impressive than the first, due to its lack of working toliet and hot water, but it did the trick. I can't hate on it too much because it is partially responsible for my most impressive moment in China: I asked the owner's daughter "Ni jiao shenme mingzi?" And she actually understood me! She replied "Wo jiao Annie." This counts as my first successful Putonghua interaction. The sense of accomplishment at being to able to ask this little girl her name ranks right up there with setting the curve on a midterm.
On our last day, we went to the farmer's market and then for a swim in theYulong River. Outside the fact that the farmer's market sold both dog and cat meat (which is really quite disturbing), it was a perfect day. We swam in the river surrounded by bamboo boats while being yelled greetings from the locals. As I had nothing to prove, I didn't jump off the bridge, but a couple of the boys took full advantage. Dodging the bamboo boats was a like a game of real life frogger and luckily no one was injured.
|Wolfgang like a boss.|
We went through immigration like a dream, and we even got to skip some lines because we're considered residents. Best feeling ever. As I took the metro back to CUHK, I was counting my blessings that home had toliets that weren't squat sans toliet paper when I realized that home was Hong Kong. Holy moly, Hong Kong is home. Mind Blown.