We arrived a day early for our training in China. So before the others arrived, Rick, Kelly and I woke early to enjoy the beauty of Yangshuo. Rick is the communications trainer for Asia and has lived in China for 15 years. A very interesting perspective to have while in China. You might remember him from such adventures as riding on a motorbike in the Philippines. Kelly is the videographer/photographer on my team.
We had breakfast on the river, where we dined each morning as it was the only time cool enough to be out of doors.
We then went for a hike to Moon Hill, an arched karst peak in a neighboring village of the same name. Kelly relaxed at a local rooftop restaurant while Rick and I climbed. We didn't intend to have guides, but the ladies just follow you until you give in to have them as guides. These 50-year-old scrawny ladies trip up the mountainside like it's nothing while they fan you from behind.
The fanning was worth how ever many yuan we paid them. It was hot. It was humid. I believe roughly 2 gallons of sweat poured off of me that lovely China morning. The ladies kept looking at me and saying, "Many, many!" as they pointed to the many, many drips of sweat leaking off of every milimeter of exposed skin.
At the bottom of the arch, they sold us Chinese Coca Cola at 3 times cost. Rick and I continued up to the top of the arch, where we saw this:
There were butterflies everywhere. It was misty and humid, making the peaks hard to see, but also making it look like a mystical fairyland where the jagged peaks could have gone on forever.
As we hiked back to the village, a man from Szechaun Province stopped us. He motioned for a picture, so I went to take his camera and take his picture. Then he shook his head, "no," and eventually communicated that he wanted me in his picture. I was covered in "many, many," so I don't quite think he wanted to fool people back home into thinking I was his hot American girlfriend.
As it turns out, and as we experienced many times along the way, Chinese people love to take pictures of and with foreigners. Any kind of foreigners. Kind of like how we might take a picture standing next to a buffalo and say, "Hey, look what I saw!" I was the buffalo.
We joined Kelly on the rooftop restaurant for a refreshing glass of fresh watermelon juice. Watermelon juice was ubiquitous in China. It was at every restaurant. I loved it. It was frothy with pulp and so watery and crisp. I drank it every chance I got, which was often.
After cleaning up, we met up with Kristin and the communications guys from India, Provashish and Jayaseelan. You might remember Jayaseelan from such adventures as watching Indians tap rubber trees in Trivandrum. We all went into Yangshuo village for a little shopping. Yangshuo is a "village," just like Indians call cities of 2 million "villages"; it was big. When I think village, I think Clydesdales pulling carts and women in bonnets. You know, the Beauty and Beast kind of village.
For Yangshuo, think speeding Audis, Adidas stores, and KFC, all on the backdrop of men in Chinese hats using comorants to catch fish on the shores of the Dragon River, while ladies sell passion fruit from baskets on the street and shout, "Hello! Hello!" at you.
I got totally ripped off shopping. No surprise there. I should have stuck with the Indians. Every day, they came to brag to me of their incredible bargaining conquests. "You see these shoes, Amber? How much do you think they cost? Really, guess! You won't believe it! Guess!" Not me. I bought Mike a decorative sword from a grumpy old man. (For being so gentle and nonviolent, Mike loves his old weapons.) The man was so grumpy, I was afraid to bargain with him. Plus he didn't speak English. I paid twice what I would have offered in America.
Shopping was difficult to enjoy, so hot was I. Provashish said, "Amber, you are very wet." Thank you. I love a good first impression.