We were planning to do the bike ride around the Yangshuo region to check out the lumps up close and personal. Given our affinity for bicycles and our not yet battle hardened bottoms, it was not something we were looking forward to but it really is the best way to see the area. In a series of classic avoidance techniques we (both) dragged the chain on getting out of the room, went for coffee while we posted the rafting post (including mucking around with the pictures), discussed whether we should ride the bikes to breakfast or walk etc.
After walking to and from breakfast (another $7 feast) we bit the bullet and headed to reception to book and pay for our bikes. At this point the girl asked what type of bikes we would like, we inspected the menu…and there it was…the electric bike. About 20 yuan a day more ($3.50-3.80) expensive, same sights but less of that pesky pedalling. Now we had seen these in other cities, you do the first few pedals to get momentum and then relax until you hit a hill or something then you need to give it a helping hand.
We went down to collect our bikes and was told to follow the dude. About 700 meters later after zigzagging the backstreets we hit a dodgy alley and he headed on down it, opened the shed and there they were…fully electric mopeds…charged and no peddling required at all. Now anybody who has spent any time in Asia is aware of the chaos that is the streets and traffic…and China is no exception. A little more ordered than some and less than others. A land where pedestrians, bicycles, mopeds, motorbikes, trucks, busses, wheelbarrows and food carts all try to occupy the same space simultaneously…and we were now motorised.
Our first 5 mins or so were frantic as we tried to head away from the busy areas to get a feel for our hogs. This achieved, we felt brave enough and headed back through town and then generally downstream following the river as best we could. Being a small town we were on the open road in no time and were happily feeling the wind in our hair (no helmet laws here). Cruising the back roads of China amid the lumps…not bad at all. A bit more comfortable on the hogs and we opened them up…I got mine up to 44 kph.
Yangshuo is a renowned destination for “adventure tourists” with many caves, hikes, rock climbing and lump mountain biking. We rode past them all, except we weren’t sweating…it was another great day. We headed back to Guilin for a night (BBQ night again) so that we can jump over to Guangzhou for our next leg into New Delhi, India. We took the bus back which was much cheaper but nowhere near as fun or scenic as the bamboo raft to get there.
We are in China for about another week and it has been fantastic…and we will be heading back a couple of more times…but we are both getting ready for a change. The constant honking of horns grates on your nerves after a while, and the urge to throttle the guy who is heavy on the horn is growing with each passing day. Jill is also starting to pine for real chocolate. China has an odd version that even in pre-packaged items like a snickers bar is very different.
We have moved onto Guangzhou now and spent the first day hitting the Chen Clan Academy, Nanyue King Mausoleum, and the catholic cathedral. Day two hit the zoo followed by the Sun Yat Sen Memorial. Couple of days of ticking the tourist boxes really. The zoo was good but the panda exhibit was as much of a fizzer as Beijing, nowhere near the excellent quality of Chongqing. I did however get fairly close to a panda, but had to watch out for his killer moves (and I smiled for those having a dig). Lots of tigers and lions etc.
The really sad part was the behaviour exhibition hall this was bears walking tightropes, monkeys on bicycles, macaws playing basketball, and a tiger jumping through hoops. This is a throwback to a time long since passed, and rightfully so. We were hoping that these were old animals that grew up performing and were finishing their lives doing what they know. It would be appalling to think that this was still going on today. On the up side they looked well fed and happy enough, but it was disconcerting to watch.