8:00am: We had breakfast on the 3rd floor of the SSAW hotel before heading to the airport and on to Yangshuo. The breakfast at the hotel is an all you can eat affair for just 38 yuan ($6.50). I always order eggs over medium, toast, red bean dumplings, and coffee.
A friend we met in Hangzhou decided that we were too inexperienced to go on our own to Yanhshuo so decided to cancel plans for the weekend and come with us. At least that was the reason she gave us. And I agreed, we should not be left alone in China. So get this, she cancels her plane ride back home, books the same flight as we had to Guilin/Yangshuo on the way to the airport. It's only when we get in the plane we realize that she has been assigned the seat right next to me. That's really weird.
12:00pm: Since there were five of us we decided to try to get a mini-bus direct to Yangshuo. On our last visit here two years ago, we took two buses and a taxi to our hotel. This time we haggled and bargained and finally got two taxis for just 400 yuan total (about $56) for an hour and a half ride to our destination. That's a deal. That's about $11.20 each. We verified with the drivers that it was 400 total and she gestured pointing to her heart to trust her.
About 20 minutes out of the airport she is honking waving madly at a bus to pull over. She swerved in front of him and stopped. He had to stop. She pulled our bags from the trunk and started loading them into the bus. She kept saying that it was too much money for us to pay to go to Yangshuo by taxi. We should take the bus, much cheaper. Besides, she said, she drives too slow. Well if she'd stay off the phone! We noticed that each time it rang and she answered it, she'd slow to a crawl. It's just like the drivers in America. I yell at them: "It's a car, not a phone booth!"
Tim and I were in the other taxi and we didn't know what was going on. But when we got on the bus our friend explained to us that she thought that the two woman drivers realized that they wouldn't be able to get a fare going back from the hotel to Guilin and that we made too good of a deal with them. But our troubles were not over. The bus lady was coming down the isle.
She wanted us to pay full fare. We explained that we had already paid the taxi for our ride to this point, but she wouldn't have it. She marched up and down the isle fusing and fuming, screaming and shaking. Before we got on the bus our taxi driver had negotiated 10 yuan, but now that we were on the bus and in the middle of nowhere the bus lady wanted 14 yuan each. It's only a difference of 50 cents, she was not seeing it our way. She threatened to throw us off the bus. Then I kind of got to thinking, it's her bus and her country. It would be challenging if I had to find a ride here next to this paddy field and water buffalo. I was starting to see it her way.
In the end we forked over the extra 4 yuan each. I was glad for peace. She returned to the front of the bus, steam rising from her horns.
3:30pm: I'm sitting on the balcony of Riverside Hotel sipping some beer and munching on some beef jerky we still have left over from our travel snacks. Our balcony is on the third floor and looks just above the street trees at the Yangshuo mountains.
It's nice to have made it out of the city and into rural Yangshuo. Although Hangzhou was clean and beautiful, it is still a city. Yangshou is rural, but we still have access to some of the comforts of home. It's one of our favorite places to visit.
6:00pm: We ordered brandied chicken, garlic broccoli, and eggplant and took it up to the open air 4th floor of Malcolm's restaurant. The top floor overlooks Xilu (West Road) where all the booths are. They call it West Road because this is the place all the westerners go and buy stuff. Our friend said if the price is 100 yuan then 25 yuan is about right. You need to keep that in mind when you shop. It's a beautiful view from the top. It's somewhat noisy down below, especially as it gets closer to the drinking hour. Lots of hikers and backpackers come to Yangshuo and they can get a bit rowdy.
8:00pm: Wine tasting. We met a guy who sells South African wine to the local restaurants and businessmen. He offered to give us a taste. He also has a top open air floor where the breezes come through. So we enjoyed a good Cabernet by candlelight. He loves Elvis Prestly so we gave a listen to one of his CDs. What a great capper for the night.
9:30pm: We walked out and said goodbye to our new friend. We met another group visiting from England staying at our same hotel. They were downstairs eating banana pancakes. Banana pancakes sounded so good so I had one with Columbian coffee.
I think I'm tired.
“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” - Lao Tzu
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