So, it’s a few months into lockdown, and things are definitely easing. People are returning to work, schools are reopening, the shops are definitely busier than they were a few months ago, as are the roads – I got stuck in my first bad traffic yesterday for months. People are travelling again, getting on planes and seeing the world once more.
I’m not though. I definitely feel safer at home, so I have cancelled my trip to Greece – the threat of it being added to the list of countries the government requires us to quarantine when we return from is a deterrent too. So, unusually for me, I have no booked holidays. Plenty of plans for when the world returns to normal – I’m looking at you Africa, and of course America. But, nothing booked. Yet…
So, I’m going to talk more about last year’s trip to China. One of the highlights was our time in Yangshou, a small town in the countryside near Guilin. It was once a sleepy town, but has become a tourist destination due to the stunning limestone karsts and mountains surrounding the town, and the subsequent climbing and caving opportunities, and is especially popular with backpackers. The town centre has plenty of restaurants and bars, mainly on West Street, and is very lively, particularly in the evening.
We were there for 2 nights and one full day.
On the day we arrived we had a trip out on pipe rafts along the river. Sadly, the rafts were powered by noisy motors, but they gave us a chance to see the mountains from the water, and it was relaxing just sitting back, enjoying the views, especially as it was heading towards sunset so the light was beginning to change slightly as it does, adding to the beauty.
After that, we headed into town, and after checking into our hotel we went out to enjoy one of the main attractions of the town – Impression Sanjie Liu. This is an impressive show, which is performed nightly on the river, and is produced by the same person who produced the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games. It is a grand show, featuring music and dancing, all with backdrop of the mountains, which are lit up to add to the performance.
In the morning, after breakfast in a nearby restaurant, which was pretty good (in my case, pancakes with chocolate spread) we set off on our adventure for the day – a bike ride across the countryside and round the paddy fields. The start was slightly uninspired, along a road, next to cars. But then, we turned off the road and hit the country paths.
It was so beautiful! The ride took us by paddy fields, and fields full of flowers, near a gently meandering river, all under the ever present view of the mountains. It was, in a word – stunning! And beautiful! And glorious! Sorry, that’s 3 words now. It actually reminded me of Northern Vietnam, and is now one the days I remember the most of the whole trip to China.
We were out for several hours, riding along, enjoying the views and fresh air, and peace and quiet, and getting some good exercise. Lunch was more tasty and delicious home cooked food, in a local farmhouse, cooked fresh just for us. This farmhouse was in sight of the Moon Hill, which is a mountain which a large hole in it, which is in the shape of the moon. So, after we had eaten, we went out to see the Moon Hill, which was beautiful.
After this, we had a trip out to a tea plantation, which was a first for me. I’m not actually a tea drinker, but the chance to see a tea plantation was too good to pass up, as I have always thought they look pretty so I thought I go along. I was right, it was pretty. The tea bushes are planted in rows, in tiers, rising quite high up, and stretching for miles. After we’d had a wander around and had a chance to pick a few leaves, we went to the main building where we were taught all about the tea growing and picking business. We also were treated to a tea ceremony, the art of serving tea, and tasting tea. As a non-tea drinker, it wasn’t the highlight but it was still very interesting to see.
From there, it was a short bus ride to a big mountain with a staircase we could climb for a truly stunning view of the countryside. The walk up the stairs was hard work for my asthmatic lungs – thankfully I carry my inhaler everywhere, but even with it I was very wheezy, and needed several stops. But, it was worth it. The view was amazing!
Dinner in the evening was at a restaurant on West Street, giving us the chance to soak up the vibes on the busy, party street.