Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Yangshuo – China (Part II)

After my agonizing journey into Yangshuo, I stashed my clothes at the White Lion Hotel on West Street and wandered out to explore this new exotic town I had arrived in. At first it reminded me of a smaller version of Jalan Legain in Bali or Khao San Road in Bangkok. Your typical retreat for Westerners flooded with American orientated bars, cafés, and restaurants. I saw more than one ad for Jack Daniels stare me in the eye and that was not the kind of temptation I needed to see. I was expecting to walk into a village of sorts so te atmosphere really caught me off Guard. Being a Chinese holiday however meant that there would be loads of local tourists in Yangshuo, and that was kind of refreshing. I wandered around a bit taking pictures, making use of all my new camera, equipment, and just trying to get better acquainted with the smaller streets and avenues in the area.

Frequent readers are probably aware of my fascination for strange creatures. And I am always looking out for animals that I have not seen before and Yangshuo did not fail to deliver. Within my first hour in the township I spotted this strange yet captivating insect. The fogger was about the size of my palm, and I got pretty big hands! You know what they say about guys with big hands right? We wear big gloves. So anyways, this bastard was a pretty fucking big and quite intimidating with his sharp tail and crab like claws. He looked like his dad was a scorpion and his mom some sort of beetle. I was venturing to pick him up when some local dude came up to me and said, ‘No, no no’. I took his deep words of advice extremely seriously and carried on my way.

I walked down to the riverside where mostly old men were offering rides on the river for about 50 RMB. I was quite eager to take the ride, especially seeing how comfy those chars looked. There were many other groups of people hiring larger boats that seat up to 8 people comfortably. It was quite noticeable how many people seemed to be on a romantic vacation or on their honeymoon. Even the old people were getting all cozy in the chairs, holding hands and cuddling. They gave me consoling looks as I drifted by on my boat, alone, sipping a cold can of beer.

The trip down the river was….. Inspirational, breathtaking, and above all relaxing. I did not listen to any music because I wanted to hear the sound of the surroundings. At first I could hear the sound of the motor as we sailed against the current up river. On both sides we were flanked by these magnificent spires of luscious green foliage and jagged grey rock. I had never in my life seen mountains like these before; they are so different from the peaks I have seen in Africa, Indonesia, or even Hawaii. It is like each of these landscapes has their own personality and voice. As I sat there taking pictures with all of my 4 cameras I eventually just put everything down and decided to experience the present moment. And then I felt the real world fall away. All the stress and pressure from work over the last week just vanished. All thoughts pertaining to work and projects I had pending melted. And god damn it felt good.

I took more pictures that morning than I could ever hope to post on this site. Most of the ones from my digital camera are not noteworthy but I am hoping for some cool results to be printed on film. Any photographer with real talent would have a fucking field day here. But more than taking pictures, I just enjoyed sitting there, sipping my cold beer and watching the world go by. Once we got as far up the river as we could go we turned off the engine and just slowly drifted back. And hour had already gone past by this time. But I was just as content to dip my feet in the cool water and let the other boats go by. And from every boat that passed us I only saw smiling faces of people who seemed so excited to wave at the silly brown dude sitting on the edge of a raft. This was only the beginning of what Yangshuo had to offer though.

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