We woke up at 8:00. Packed. Caught the 38 bus at 11:15 and took it into the Jia Jia, where we transferred to the 30. Rode the 30 to the wholesale market and transferred to the 12 and rode that to the bus station on the other side of Weihai. It's crazy to be able to navigate the inter-city bus system now; especially after feeling like it would never be possible when I first moved here.
We took a three hour bus ride from Weihai to a city called Qingdao (CHING-dow) where our plane was scheduled to take off. The flight was fine (they fed us noodles and tomatoes) and we had a layover in a city that I can't remember. All's I know is that we got delayed at that city on the tarmac for two hours....so we landed in Guilin at 2:00 AM. Our foreign coordinator told us we could sleep at the airport, so we wouldn't have to pay for a hostel. People spend nights in airports frequently, so it wouldn't be a big deal, right?
Not in China. The Guilin airport is really small and our flight was the last flight until 7 AM in the morning. When we got into the airport, everything was closed down and there was no one waiting in the gates. ALL of the chairs were plastic with railings...no place to lie down. So, as all of the lights shut off and everyone left, our small group of eight Americans curled up on the floor in a café..and tried to get some rest:
AT 5:30 in the morning, we were woken up by the guards, who ushered us out of the airport in broken English. We were so scared we were going to get in trouble, so we snagged taxi's that charged us way too much to get to the bus station, but we were okay with that. We just wanted out!
We hoped on an hourly bus that departs from Guilin and drives to Yangshuo (about an hour away). And I do not lie when I say it is the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life:
Yangshuo is this little touristy village nestled in these crazy mountains, right on the river. Think Jackson Hole, Wyoming or North Conway, New Hampshire, and you'll understand the feel of the area. The roads are all cobblestoned and lined with shops and cafés and stalls. There are places to rent bikes, mopeds and go on tours of the country side. (Farms and little villages). After we checked into the hostel, we decided we wanted to rent mopeds and found a cute little man named Daniel who said he would take us on a tour.
As you can tell; Yangshuo had experienced some heavy rains the week before. The cute little paths that we were driving our mopeds on had turned into MUD traps. Cort and I got stuck several times and at one point, Sally slipped on her scooter and flew right off the path and into a rice patty field. Cort and I were right behind her and were so distracted by her little crash, that the next thing we knew, we had driven into the field too! Our scooter was stuck in mud and my sneakers were covered and drenched, but the whole situation was so funny that I couldn't stop laughing. Always an adventure.
Yangshuo had a ton of traditional Chinese weavers on the streets:
Hostels are the coolest places in the world, and ours had a roof top bar over looking the river. At night, we went up there and met people from ALL over the world, including Owen, from the U.K. He played pool and jenga with us and made all of the girls giggly with his awesome accent.
At night, West Street (main street of Yangshuo) turns into a GIANT night market. There was a cute little lady who spun cotton candy about three feet away from her machine (it was so cool to watch) for 2 quai (20 cents in America currency).
One of my favorite parts about China are the 4 quay noodle bowls you can buy off the street!
Sally, Bryan and I:
Me standing on the roof top bar of our hostel, watching a storm roll into the mountains. It was SO BEAUTIFUL!
Part two will come soon-but I'm in the middle of a CRAZY TIC week at Da Guanghua.
Updates to follow!