Thursday, 26 March 2009

Trains, needles, boats and balloons in China

I have met up with my tour group and began my Chinese adventure. Luck has been on my side as the group consists of 6 couples from England, Ireland, Newzealand Denmark and 2 hot, single, nubile 24 year old blond Norwegian girls.... and me. Nice balance. Everyone is really cool and friendly and definitely feel luck is on my side.
My first sleeper train experience was highly enjoyable. 13 hours from Hong Kong to Yangshuo was passed easily with 6 hours spent in the dining car drinking beer with the boys and playing cards. Shithead seems to be a universal game that everyone knows how to play, the hours flow by. The next 6 hours were spent asleep in a 6 berth sleeper berth. It was small and cramped but I managed to sleep without issue.

Chinese toilets are quite an experience, basically a hole in the ground that both men and women have to squat over precariously. Thankfully so far i’ve only needed to pass a number . Here is an action shot。I‘m not looking forward to a number 2!

Arriving in Yangshuo I was totally surprised. I’ve never heard of it before and had little or no expectations. As it turns out it one of the most naturally breathtaking places on earth, i’ve been totally blown away by what mother nature has supplied this 400sq km area. Hundreds of thousands of the most stunning green limestone mountains dotted around in a random and breathtaking fashion. None of my photos will do it justice, but here is the view from my room...

After breakfast we wandered around to get our bearings and I was struck by how lovely and chilled and beautiful the city is. Tradition styled Chinese buildings interspersed with rivers and stream and tiny bridges, completely surrounded by the limestone mounds in every direction. I was in the mood to try a few new things.. and after a particularly piercing headache brought on by 6 hours of drinking cheap Chinese “liq” beer – I went to a traditional Chinese Acupuncturist to see if she could alleviate my pain. I have to say I don’t think i’ll be trying it again. After she pierced all of my meridian pressure points with 4 inch needles she then proceeded to drive one directly into the source of the pain in between my eyes and twist it. I was then left for 30 mins to “relex”.. it was probably one of the most uncomfortable 30mins of my life.

I walked out of there with an even worse headache and £3 pounds poorer. Well at least I tried it, it was an experience to remember.. and thats what this trip is all about.
The next two hours were spent on a slow river cruise taking in some of the most beautiful scenery my eyes have ever witnessed.

The latter part of the day was the highlight of the trip so far. A British couple and I decided to break away from the rest of the group and embark on a spontaneous hot air balloon ride over the district. For a measly £50 we sailed through the air for a whole hour and darted in and out of this unbelievable countryside. Rising and falling through the limestone mountains in glorious sunshine was an unforgettable memory that I will take with me to my grave.

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