Rosewood Cafe

an afternoon bike ride in the yangshuo countryside

Saturday, May 30:  After we finish the Li River cruise, Erica and I drop into town for a quick pizza lunch at the Rosewood Cafe and then head out immediately for a bike ride.  As we only have a short weekend, I’m trying to compress what I did in four days into less than two days.  We take off into the countryside in a steady drizzle, hoping that it will let up before long.  By the time we get into the heart of the countryside, it has stopped raining, but we are fairly damp.  The moisture in the air is thick, making for some hazy views.

Yangshuo countryside

Yangshuo countryside

I’m trying to lead Erica by memory into the countryside, following the route that Audrey led me on in October.  I’m surprised that I am able to recognize landmarks and find my way, despite only having been once on this route.  Sometimes I have no sense of direction, and other times I have an uncanny internal compass that enables me to figure out the lay of the land.

the farmland of Yangshuo

the farmland of Yangshuo

We come to a spot along the Yulong River where some girls are standing under the trees trying to keep dry, as it has started raining again.  We get off our bikes and join the girls under the trees, as there’s quite a deluge.  While waiting, we’re lucky enough to have a farmer cross the river with his cows.

The Yulong River

The Yulong River

A farmer and his cow

A farmer and his cow

I love it how the farmer rolls up his pants and wades confidently into the river, and his cows follow obediently behind.

the farmer crosses the Yulong River with his cows

the farmer crosses the Yulong River with his cows

farmer crossing

farmer crossing

wading across the Yulong River

wading across the Yulong River

I am thrilled to experience this little slice of life in the Yangshuo countryside!

disappearing act

disappearing act

bicycles Chinese style

bicycles Chinese style

When the rain lets up, Erica and I get back on our bikes to continue on our journey.

Erica and her bicycle

Erica and her bicycle

Before we leave, two young men come by on a motorbike.  I can’t believe it, but they try to cross the river on the bike.  One of the men gets off and walks alongside.  Of course the bike stalls, but they get it started again and make their way gingerly across.

crossing the Yulong River on a motorbike

crossing the Yulong River on a motorbike

There’s all kind of activity on this rainy day in Yangshuo.  We encounter another farmer leading his cow along the path.

another farmer and his cow

another farmer and his cow

His cow goes off into the bushes to scrounge around, but the farmer doesn’t seem to mind.  After all, cows will be cows.

and the cow goes scrounging in the bushes

and the cow goes scrounging in the bushes

Chinese countryside

Chinese countryside

more farmland

more farmland

We pass more farmland in the midst of the karsts, and we glimpse farmers and water buffalos in the fields.

a farmer in the field

a farmer in the field

water buffalo in the field

water buffalo in the field

Erica and her bicycle

Erica and her bicycle

I have to take a convoluted path to get us to Dragon Bridge. There are no English signs to point out the way, but I use my 6th sense, just letting my body lead us in the right direction.  We go through a parking lot and then emerge on the other side to find the trail continuing along the Yulong River.  Once again, I’m surprised and pleased that I’m able to remember the way to go.

Erica hasn’t seen the bamboo rafts at Yulong Bridge, and she is delighted by the sight, as am I.

the view upriver from Dragon Bridge

the view upriver from Dragon Bridge

Looking downriver from Dragon Bridge

Looking downriver from Dragon Bridge

bamboo rafts on the Yulong River

bamboo rafts on the Yulong River

the Yulong River from Dragon Bridge

the Yulong River from Dragon Bridge

The rafts go downriver, and as the boatmen go by, they toss these ID tags up on to the bridge, where someone collects them.  I’m not sure exactly how this system works and what the point is.

boat ID tags

boat ID tags

As we’re leaving, we catch this character shooting the breeze with a companion.

Do you like my hat?

Do you like my hat?

We pass by a cute little bridge beside a coffee shop in the countryside.

A little bridge in the countryside

A little bridge in the countryside

coffee shop in Yangshuo

coffee shop in Yangshuo

view from the little bridge

view from the little bridge

We stop at the Giggling Tree, a hotel that always seems to be booked whenever I’ve come to Yangshuo.  This hotel is popular among Westerners.  We stop in the courtyard and have some mango drinks.

the courtyard at the Giggling Tree

the courtyard at the Giggling Tree

I was hoping we’d end up back at the Passion Fruit Leisure Farm, where Audrey and I ate lunch in October, but Erica is tired from our long day and wants to make our way back to town.  So we ride back into Yangshuo, where we stroll around the town.  Here, I finally buy a couple of cool lanterns, after dreaming about them during my whole time in China.

Lately, the lens on my Olympus Pen has been acting up, and I’m disappointed to find that many of my pictures are not quite focused.  I’m not sure if they’re like this because of the dense mist in the air in Yangshuo, or because of the lens not focusing properly.  I think it’s going to be time for a new camera soon. 🙂

a little Chinese girl poses at a shop in Yangshuo

a little Chinese girl poses at a shop in Yangshuo

the town and canals in Yangshuo

the town and canals in Yangshuo

After dinner, we hop on our bikes to head back toward the Cosy Garden.  While we’re riding over the bumpy cobblestones under the long pavilion, Erica says she’d like to stop at Demo Tikki Bar, which Audrey took me to in October; it has now moved from the middle of Yangshuo to this somewhat deserted stretch under the pavilion along the Li River.

Audrey had introduced me to the German manager, Peter, and when we stop in, I ask Peter if he remembers me from when I came in with Audrey. He does because he added me on WeChat at that time, so he’s seen all my posts.  I’ve seen his as well, so everything finally comes together: all his posts about Demo Bar’s move to the new location now make perfect sense. We sit at a table and have some beer and cheese plates and Peter joins us when time allows. When he sits with us, he shares his excitement about the restaurant/bar’s new location and all his plans for this and another new restaurant in town.

Erica over beers at the new Demo Bar by the Li River

Erica over beers at the new Demo Bar by the Li River

After dinner, Erica and I hop back on our bicycles to ride through the drizzling dark to the Cosy Garden.  The staff at Cosy Garden gave Erica a miniature headlamp, like what a coal miner wears, when we left the hotel this morning.  At the far end of the long pavilion, we both take turns struggling to turn it on and put it on our heads; finally it’s me that wins out.  We cycle forth into the darkness, a beam of light shining from my luminous head onto the road ahead.

Earlier today, I asked Erica if she’d rather take the bamboo raft down the Yulong River tomorrow, or if she’d rather take a motorbike tour up to the Seven Star tea plantation and Xianggong Hill.  There is only enough time for one or the other.  She was so charmed by the Yulong River rafts that she’s decided she’d like to do that tomorrow; we arranged it in town when we returned from our bike rides earlier.

We settle in quite late at the Cosy Inn, preparing for another raft trip and for our long journey back to Nanning tomorrow.

Categories: Asia, Bicycle tour, China, Cosy Garden, Demo Tiki Bar, Dragon Bridge, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Rosewood Cafe, The Giggling Tree, Travel, West Street, Xi Jie, Yangshuo, Yulong River | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

massages and a day of rest :-)

Thursday, January 29: This morning, we both wake up feeling sicker than ever.  Out the window, we can see it is raining heavily.  Besides that, Mike was kept awake all night by a bunch of Chinese people having a barbecue on the street outside of our window.  Apparently they were talking, laughing and partying until the wee hours.  I was oblivious to the whole affair as I can sleep though any noise, including my own snoring.  🙂

Because of his awful night of sleep, and being sick on top of that, Mike is feeling pretty grumpy, which is unusual for him.  I am too, but at least I have more holiday after he leaves.  I already know my whole holiday will not be ruined by bad weather, as the forecast for Yunnan province is for sunny skies and in the 60s (F) and Myanmar’s is for hot weather (90s) and sunshine every day.  I feel so bad for Mike that we are near the end of our time together, and the weather forecast is for nothing good ahead.  Even if we were to stay 10 more days in Yangshuo, the forecast would still be for continual rain and cold.

Mike has been an extremely good sport about the whole thing.  I have not been such a good sport because I wanted him to see the best of China.  I had a great time in Yangshuo in October, and I wanted him to have the same experience.  Because of his demanding work schedule, this will probably be his only holiday this year, and it’s been ruined.  He has tried to put a positive spin on it, enjoying it for the cultural experience it has been.  Meanwhile, I have felt sad, angry, frustrated, and irritated.  Besides the fact that his vacation has been ruined, mine has too!  I haven’t been able to take any decent photos or to do the activities, such as hiking and bicycling, that I hoped to do.

Mike asks the hotel staff if we can change rooms and move away from the street.  He doesn’t want to suffer through another night of no sleep.  So we pack up our stuff and move to another room, one that has a little alcove with a tea table in it.  It’s kind of cute.

After moving, we go out for breakfast at the Rosewood Cafe and then go for hour-long whole body massages.  We return to the hotel room and put on our pajamas.  We stay in the rest of the day, reading, sleeping, snacking and talking.

Mike in our new hotel room, in his pajamas. :-)

Mike in our new hotel room, in his pajamas. 🙂

During this time, as we can see the forecast is for more of the same in Yangshuo, we decide we will leave Yangshuo one day early and return to Guilin. We’ll lose the money for our hotel in Yangshuo for one night, but as it was cheap, only $35, we don’t care.  We book a room back at the Guilinyi Royal Palace for Friday night, so we can have all of our creature comforts.  We must catch a train from Guilin to Nanning on Saturday morning, so we can have a more leisurely time by going to Guilin a day early.

The only time we leave the room is in the evening, when the rain has abated a bit, to eat a Chinese dinner at Cloud 9.

 

Categories: Asia, China, Cloud 9 Restaurant, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin, Rosewood Cafe, Travel, Yangshuo, Yangshuo River View Hotel | Tags: , , , | 14 Comments

a cloudy day boat ride down the li river

Wednesday, January 28:  We go through a bit of an ordeal with our guide Esther today.  She has lured us into a boat ride down the Li River for a lower price than our hotel offers. She says she has connections.  I don’t understand how she can give us a better deal than the hotel, as the boat operators on the river charge generally the same prices, so she must be getting a deal on the transportation to the boat launch in Xingping and back.  She has already told us that the ride will be upriver from Xingping to Yangdi (east to west), and I told her I wanted the ride downriver from west to east, from Yangdi to Xingping.  This is the way I did it in October.  What’s so amazing about the downriver direction is that you end up in Xingping, where the jagged mountains are clustered together in such a fantastical array that a painting of them graces the 20 yuan bill.

Esther leads us through the streets to different spots, where she stops and looks all around for some mysterious person who’s supposed to show up.  She’s on the phone the whole time.  I still don’t like that she won’t guarantee the downriver boat ride, and she’s not telling us any details about who we’re going with.  She’s not planning to come along with us, and she’s being generally evasive.  As we move from one spot on the street to the other, with her on the phone yapping in Chinese and looking all around impatiently, I start to lose it.

I say, “Esther, you’ve had since yesterday to plan this!  How much longer will it be?” She keeps pacing up and down, searching for some vehicle that never materializes, and she has no answers.  Finally, I get fed up.  “I’m sorry, Esther.  You’ve had since yesterday to arrange this and you still don’t have it arranged!  We’re going back to the hotel.”

We walk away and leave her on the street, still talking on the phone.  Nearby, we stop into a travel agent, and we arrange the boat ride for the same price Esther was offering.  It seems however, that the downriver route is not available and the only way to go is from Xingping upriver a bit, but not all the way to Yangdi, and then returning to Xingping.  I guess the Li River must be lower at this time of year.  We pay the travel agent for the trip, wait about 20 minutes in the agent’s office, and then hop on a bus for the nearly one hour drive to Xingping.

On the bus, I’m squeezed in next to a Chinese lady who speaks excellent English.  She’s here in Yangshuo for the Spring Festival holiday with her husband and daughter.  She tells me her English name is Julia.  We have a long conversation about our holidays and her life in her hometown.  When we get to the boat launch, it ends up we all five share a bamboo raft together.

At the boat launch - waiting and waiting

At the boat launch – waiting and waiting

For some unknown reason, we have to wait quite a long time at the boat launch.  There are some boats lingering about, but no one seems to be manning them. Things are so much more disorganized than when I took this boat ride in October: a raft trip down the li river: yangdi to xingping

Finally, after at least a half-hour wait, we get on the boat with the lovely Chinese family.  We agree with the Chinese family that we’ll start in the front seat, which offers the best views, but we’ll switch places with them from time to time.  Sadly, the views today are not great anyway.  It’s a dark and cloudy day, but at least so far it isn’t raining.  We find out quickly that it’s quite cold on the river, with the cold wind and the spray from the river, and we realize we haven’t dressed warmly enough.

the Li River

the Li River

the boat launch at the Li River

the boat launch at the Li River

a dark day on the Li River

a dark day on the Li River

the cloudy Li River

the cloudy Li River

a river surrounded by karst landscape

a river surrounded by karst landscape

the Li River

the Li River

mysterious mountains

mysterious mountains

trees and karsts

boats, trees and karsts

For yet another day of our holiday, I’m disappointed in the dreary charcoal skies and the fog that nearly obscures our view.

a dark day on the Li River

a dark day on the Li River

the Li River

the Li River

the Li River

the Li River

The boat driver makes a stop at a little island where people are selling handicrafts, but none of us wants to buy anything.  While we wander about, the Chinese girl spends her time throwing heavy stones into the river.  Meanwhile, the boat driver sits with his friends and eats a snack.  We take turns taking pictures of each other.

our Chinese companions

our Chinese companions

Mike and I on the Li River

Mike and I on the Li River

It’s so funny, Julia reminds me so much of my Korean friend Julie.  Even her haircut is similar: my two closest korean friends

me with the Chinese girls

me with the Chinese girls

We pass on the opportunity to ride this little pony.

a ride on a pony, anyone?

a ride on a pony, anyone?

Finally, when our boat driver finishes eating his snack and chatting with his friends, we’re on our way again.

back on the boat

back on the boat

a boat with a view

a boat with a view

Soon after we get back on the boat, it starts to spit rain.  This continues for the rest of our ride.  Argh!!!!

Me, mother & daughter, and Mike on the bamboo raft

Me, mother & daughter, and Mike on the bamboo raft

heading down the Li River

heading down the Li River

Li River

Li River

Li River

Li River

Li River

Li River

continuing down the river

continuing down the river

more picturesque views

more picturesque views

another boat on the river

another boat on the river

beach

beach

one of the larger boats for the Li River Cruise

one of the larger boats for the Li River Cruise

the Li River

the Li River

The Li River

The Li River

mother and daughter

mother and daughter

on the Li River

on the Li River

Li River views

Li River views

the Li River looking out over the end of our bamboo raft

the Li River looking out over the end of our bamboo raft

Cruising down the Li River

Cruising down the Li River

By the time we finish our ride, we’re all shivering and wet from the rain and the spray from the river.  We squeeze into the bus again and ride back to Yangshuo.  We go back to the hotel to rest and get warm and dry for a while before we head out to dinner at Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant.

The restaurant has two huge wooden sliding doors at the front.  Mike doesn’t realize they’re sliding doors and he pushes one of them inward, lifting both of them dangerously into the air.  He realizes belatedly what he’s done and he steps back, letting the doors clunk back into place.  Meanwhile the people in the restaurant run to the front to stop him from knocking down the two huge doors.  They’re so heavy that they probably would have crushed him if he had knocked them off their tracks.  He causes quite a stir!

at Pure Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant

at Pure Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant

Luckily after dinner the rain has abated so we take a short walk around the town again.  We run across some funny characters in the street.

characters on the streets of Yangshuo

characters on the streets of Yangshuo

We decide to warm up a bit in Mango by sharing a refreshing mango and ice cream dessert.  It’s really yummy, but that ice cream makes us shiver all the way back to our hotel.

Mike at Mango sharing his mango dessert

Mike at Mango sharing his mango dessert

the walls at Mango

the walls at Mango

Inside Mango

Inside Mango

We get cozy again in our hotel and read a long while.  There’s never anything on TV to watch as all the shows are in Chinese.  After our day on the river, we’re both feeling really sick, with coughs, sore throats, runny noses and general head colds and shivers.  We can see the forecast for tomorrow is for rain all day.  We decide that if it is actually raining, we will get massages in the morning and just stay in our hotel room for most of the day, trying to recover from our miserable colds.

 

 

Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin, Li River, Pure Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant, Rosewood Cafe, Travel, West Street, Xi Jie, Yangdi, Yangshuo, Yangshuo River View Hotel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

a morning walk around yangshuo

Wednesday, January 28:  This morning, loud explosions outside our hotel jolt us out of our sleep.  We hear musical instruments, and more explosions.  We hop out of bed, scurrying to the balcony to see what the hubbub is about.   On the street below is what looks like a funeral procession.  People are setting off firecrackers, leaving wisps of smoke and a trail of red litter scattered on the ground.  A street-sweeping crew follows behind to clean it all up.  Musicians are marching beside the procession, playing lively tunes.  Some people are walking backwards, facing what must be the casket, while the pallbearers and the mourners are moving solidly forward.

a morning funeral procession

a morning funeral procession

the sweepers

the sweepers

the procession on the streets of Yangshuo

the procession on the streets of Yangshuo

I guess this is our wake up call.  Esther, our bicycle guide from yesterday, has arranged a boat ride down the Li River for the late morning, so we get showered and dressed and head into town to grab some breakfast.

Yangshuo

Yangshuo

colorful cafe in town

colorful cafe in town

Write a postcard to the future and coffee

Write a postcard to the future and coffee

Chez Valerie

Chez Valerie

It looks like another gray day, but at least at this point, it isn’t raining.

dark street of the town

dark street of the town

We stop at the Rosewood Cafe, which has a warm cozy atmosphere and a great Western breakfast.

The Rosewood Cafe

The Rosewood Cafe

Mike outside the Rosewood Cafe

Mike outside the Rosewood Cafe

Streets of Yangshuo

Streets of Yangshuo

After breakfast, we walk around the streets a bit. As usual, I admire the lantern shops.  I go into one to ask how I’d go about transporting one of the lanterns if I were to buy one.  The two Chinese people at the counter obviously don’t want to have to make the effort to understand or speak English. They look up briefly and wave their hands back and forth in front of their faces, as if to brush me away, and then they get right back to the business at hand: their phones.  Some Chinese people can be so rude!  They just lost a sale, but what do they care?  Customer service is not part of the Chinese mentality.

Lanterns galore

Lanterns galore

Darn it all, I want one of those lanterns!!  I should have just bought one and dealt with the transport.  But after the salespeople’s rudeness, I won’t buy one from them on matter of principle. I will get one, I promise, before I leave China.

More lanterns

More lanterns

The streets don’t have much action on them at this time of morning.  Strangely, outdoor tables are set up at some cafes.  Don’t the proprietors notice the heavy skies?  Don’t they sense the threat of rain?

streets of Yangshuo

streets of Yangshuo

On a nice day, you can imagine this town is really cute, with its canals, bridges, red lanterns and colorful umbrellas and signs.

Canals of Yangshuo (Photo by Mike)

Canals of Yangshuo (Photo by Mike)

bridges in Yangshuo

bridges in Yangshuo (Photo by Mike)

Pretty little footbridge

Pretty little footbridge

Canals of Yangshuo (Photo by Mike)

Canals of Yangshuo (Photo by Mike)

Pond in Yangshuo

Pond in Yangshuo

McDonald's ~ It's everywhere!

McDonald’s ~ It’s everywhere! (Photo by Mike)

The streets outside of the tourist part of town

The streets outside of the tourist part of town (Photo by Mike)

Busy Yangshuo

Busy Yangshuo (Photo by Mike)

After our walk, we go back to the room to bundle up some more as it’s likely to be awfully cold and windy out on the Li River.

Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin, Holidays, Rosewood Cafe, Spring Festival, West Street, Xi Jie, Yangshuo | Tags: , , , , , | 17 Comments

a morning walk & breakfast in yangshuo

Sunday, October 5:  I’m supposed to meet Vivian at the hotel at 10:30 this morning to go on a private motorbike tour of the countryside north of Yangshuo.  Before our meeting, I walk into town to find some breakfast.  I’m pleasantly surprised to find the town is just waking up and the streets are practically deserted.

on Xianqian Jie

on Xianqian Jie: The Yangshuo Climbing Festival

Deserted Xianqian Jie

Deserted Xianqian Jie

the cute little coffee shop with a gecko server

the cute little coffee shop with a gecko server

Even Xi Jie, better known as West Street, normally packed with people, has just been washed down and is practically empty, except for a few early birds like me.

Xi Jie, or West Street.

Xi Jie, or West Street.

I decide to indulge in the breakfast buffet at Rosewood Cafe.

Rosewood Cafe

Rosewood Cafe

Breakfast buffet at Rosewood Cafe

Breakfast buffet at Rosewood Cafe

Still life over the buffet

Still life over the buffet

little pond in the center of town

little pond in the center of town

pretty little bridge

pretty little bridge

I continue to stroll through the town, enjoying the peace and quiet.  I even find some people walking around in their pajamas.

Click on any of the photos below to see a full-sized slide show.

Heading back toward the hotel, I pause along the Li River’s edge to see what’s happening.

waterfall

waterfall

the bamboo boat man

the bamboo boat man

The Li River on a Sunday morning

The Li River on a Sunday morning

over the moon

over the moon

Li River

Li River

stepping stones

stepping stones

Li River & karst landscape

Li River & karst landscape

I’m excited about my motorbike tour.  When I get back to the hotel, I gather up my camera and my bag, and meet Vivian for a full-day of exploring.

Categories: Asia, China, Expat life, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin, Li River, National Holiday, Rosewood Cafe, Travel, West Street, Xi Jie, Yangshuo | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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