[ Aug.1996 ] We went to Yangshuo from Guilin by minibus in China.
We had found that many things were twice as expensive as the prices mentioned in the guidebook, so I was expecting the minibus ride would be up to 15 yuan ($1=8.28 yuan in those days), but it was only 6 yuan as the book said.
It took about 2 hours to get there.
Gradually the jagged mountains came into our sight.
At the bus stop in Ynagshuo where we got off the bus, there were some hotel people calling the tourists out to get attention.
We chose one of them called Holiday Inn, which was nothing to do with the big worldwide chain with the same name.
It cost 40 yuan per twin room which was air-conditioned.
There were mosquito net tied up above the beds.
The bathroom was not particularly nice, but other than that it was comfortable.
Yangshuo was a popular foreign backpacker hangout, so there were many cafes for foreigners as well as souvenir shops lined up endlessly.
I had a banana pancake in one of them.
What was noticeable there was an abacus.
It was different from the Japanese ones with two balls at the upper part and five at the lower part and it was quite large.
It seemed that they used abacuses commonly.
The worker showed it to me to tell me how much it cost, but I did not understand the number at all.
There were many local tourists, too, who came from Guilin by tourist boats and we did a bit of shopping mixed with them.
I bought a silk warm jacket preparing for the journey ahead.
The first price was 260 yuan, but after haggling, I paid 130 yuan in the end.
The vendors of this kind of souvenir booths are expecting haggling, so their first prices are always too high.
I do not haggle in my everyday life, but during this travelling I got very much used to it.
After shopping, we did cycling.
We rented bicycles from a shop run by a middle aged couple who seemed good-natured (5 yuan each).
We started cycling heading for the Moon Hill at around 4 pm.
They offered a guide, but we decided not to have one, and sure enough, we got lost.
So we had to ask the way to people a few times and found that all those people were very kind, which made me surprised, because I had read that Chinese people were unfriendly.
The roads were very dusty and the lorries were passing by raising dust one after another.
I had to make a desperate effort to keep going.
On the way, a Swedish man called Erik joined us, so I could not give up anymore.
So it was hard, but rewarding, too, for example, we saw the scene that people were having their water buffaloes have a bath.
It was lovely atmosphere and picturesque.
We were approaching the Moon Hill, but took a wrong way and ended up in a nearby village.
A young woman selling bottles of water to tourists offered us to guide her village, saying she wanted to show the strange looking rock mountains and offer a dinner.
Sounded interesting, but the sun was already setting and it was getting dark.
The village was very simple with brick or stone houses with the jagged mountains in the background.
It was a shame that I could not take any photos of it, because it was already too dark.
By the way, I found that in China, many young women were working hard like this one.
On the minibus which took us to Yangshuo, two women of their early 20s were managing the passengers efficiently.
They both had a lively expression on their face.
Now, we declined the woman’s offer and started getting back without seeing the Moon Hill.
By then, the roads were pitch-black.
The bicycles did not have a light.
The black silhouettes of the jagged mountains were towering against the night sky where I could see the occasional lights of aeroplanes far away and the half moon was shining.
There were some fireflies and one of them dived into my chest.
It was not just the exotic mood, but I really felt as if we were on another planet.
At last we came back to the Yangshuo town using the headlights of the cars which sometimes passed and the moonlight.
It was a hard experience, as hard as, if not harder than the climbing Fubo Hill in Guilin.
The man at the rental cycle shop said by gestures, “You must have a sore bottom. Have a good rest tonight”, which warmed my heart.
Needless to say, the glass of beer I had with dinner afterwards was particularly good.