Yesterday we left the rice terrace fields and the village of Ping An. We all loved interacting with the people from the village and seeing life lived differently from the experiences we have in the domestic bliss that is life in Melbourne. Our morning began with a walk out of the village and a three hour bus trip into the village areas surrounding Yangshuo where we began the bike riding part of the journey.
Mr. Long provided us with our bikes and we set off down a dirt road that led through small villages. The Chinese people were very amused by our presence and happy to shout out a hello to one and all. The children are especially keen on making some contact. The girls are delighted with the interest and respond wholeheartedly with loud ‘nee hows’ (I have no idea of the Chinese spelling of this!). It got me thinking. How would I react if a group of Chinese people were riding past my house. For a start, it’s highly unlikely I’d see them behind the fence that guards my home and if I did, I doubt I’d be excitedly running along near them to catch their attention with a smile, a welcoming ‘hello’ and a friendly wave. A shame really, the world would be a nicer place if this were our reaction to newcomers in our neighbourhoods. I know that I have felt very welcome from the villagers in China. After the ride we journeyed to our hotel in Yangshou. It is picturesque, surrounded by Karst mountains. It’s a bustling tourist precinct and has the West St market as a big drawcard. We had another delicious dinner at a local restaurant and then walked down to the Li River where we hopped on a boat and ventured out to see a fisherman and his cormorant birds engage in the traditional Chinese way of catching fish. The birds are tethered and then released. They dive into the water and catch fish, but can’t swallow them as they have a ring around their neck. The fisherman aids them in regurgitating the fish and feeds them after the work is done. Quite a few of the girls had pictures taken with a Cormorant bird on their shoulder. Today we woke to the sound of consistent rain. We had breakfast at the hotel and got ready for our bike ride. 17 kms today to a village near the Li River. We set out on what was a made road and fairly flat which made for easy riding. The rain didn’t let up and we were pretty wet. We were supposed to hike along the river but altered our plans in light of the weather conditions. We instead caught a ferry and travelled the Li River by this means. Back to the hotel and the girls were given some time to shop in the neighbouring street. Needless to say this was a highlight for them!
Dinner was a western style meal at a local restaurant and then we were off to the Water Puppet Theatre. Thankfully the rain abated somewhat and we were able to enjoy the show dressed in our complimentary ponchos. It’s a show that was directed by the man who organised the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics so it gives you some idea of the spectacle that it was. Lots of massed performance all based on the water with a love story as its central theme. Ice-Cream for all on our return and then off to bed, ready for another bike ride in Yangshou tomorrow. Hopefully little to no rain when we awake. I really would like the students to have fond memories of this place. *It’s now morning, but I couldn’t post this last night because the free wifi I was accessing dropped out. I suspect the friendly coffee shop around the corner had shut up shop for the night! Guess what? Still raining but not as heavy thank goodness.