Friday, May 02, 2008

Day 11 - Yangshuo

At breakfast I spoke to two cyclists who were doing a leisurely 20Km a day in the area through villages and tows. They had been pick-pocketed in a remote village and had their mobiles nicked.

Bike trip
We hired bicycles and rode out on dirt tracks to the rice paddies where people were hoeing, carrying manure I baskets, using water buffalo to plough or darting rice shoots into the mud. There was no sign of mechanisation and the people looked as poor as one can imagine. It rained on the trip and we sheltered in a café and beneath a limestone overhang. I had noticed a lot of smoking among the men, but not women. Paul, our guide, said that only ‘naughty women’ smoke.

Chinese calligraphy
In the afternoon we did calligraphy classes and Tai Chi. I chose calligraphy and enjoyed the deliberate and almost ceremonial approach to writing. We did the basic nine strokes then some basic characters and our names. He also introduced us to some freestyle writing. Carl and Gil did Tai Chi with a teacher who had spent ten years at Shaolin.

Great firewall of China
Hidden away in the school was a large internet café that had people doing English online, games and the usual stuff. A PC costs as little as £200 and the software is almost all pirated. I tried the usual Tibet, Tianamen and Taiwan searches but most were disabled. However, Wikipedia is available, with these sections rendered inaccessible.

You can still see the real deal here with cormorant fishing, rural China in all of its filth, poverty but dignity and majesty. Within minutes you can move between 21st century technology and commerce to feudal farming. But it’s disappearing fast. The government have reduced rural taxes to zero I some areas and reduced it in others to redress the balance between the increasing rich/poor gap.

Entire group stopped off for a foot massage, apart from me. I wasn’t convinced by the ying/yang intro. Everyone, however, did enjoy the experience. We drove North West of Guilin to a valley and had to swap buses to get to Ping A. The driver deliberately swung the bus round the bends so that our guide would fall into his lap – it worked, a manoeuvre he had clearly used often. He the asked her out for a drink!

We had to walk up to the village with our bags, although local women (all 50+) would carry them for 20 Yuan. We felt shamed by the offer. It was a hell of a climb and we were all pretty much whacked when we reached our wooden hostel. The view from our room was across the rice paddies - bliss.


At 10:36 AM, Anonymous Rina said...

This is a lovely post. The 'naughty' women and the guide thing, nice trick eh! The thing about foot massage, its fine to get it but the person who touches your body should be a balanced person or it can do more damage at subtle level. How poverty breaks you, just 20 yuan for carrying someones weight. These things break my heart and I loose faith in this strange existance.


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