Playing on the computer…
Making faces with….
Playing with hats…
Helping with baths….
They’re very comfy.
And sometimes (though not all the time), it’s nice to just sit with them.
In China, you don’t have “playgrounds” — you have exercise parks.
So Mime has kindly decided to demonstrate the wonders of these machines.
Today, forget your daily walk around the block — why not hop on one of these and let it walk for you?
There were a few things I really wanted to see when we were in China.
The Great Wall…
The Forbidden City…
See hundreds and thousands of people milling around…
And see a Lion Dance.
With only 5 days before we left, I thought I wouldn’t see a Lion Dance.
But I was wrong.
Dad and Mum, taking a walk in the bird-and-flower market, rushed back to the apartment, and told Jem and I to grab our cameras.
The noise was deafening…
Well, you might as well see for yourself.
But I saw my Lion Dance.
Considering we like caves, and we were in Yanghsuo, and there was a particularly nice cave there — we decided to go Chinese Caving. Or Spelunking (which, according to the dictionary, just means “the exploration of caves”).
This is the Dragon Assembly cave.
We walked across a zig-zag bridge (to keep the evil spirits away–naturally), and down into the cave. The change in temperature was amazing. After melting in the sun all morning, descending into coolness was the best part of going to the cave.
We took a boat with the Chinese tour ahead of us, sailing through a still, green lake in the cave to the other side. Once out, the Chinese tour (with their tour guide shouting into a microphone) zoomed ahead of us. In China there are schedules. You don’t just stop and smell the roses — or linger on the rocks as the case may be. At least two more Chinese tours passed us before we finished looking through the cave.
Caves in China are different.
For one, we let them look natural. We fine people for touching the limestone and leaving fingerprints. We fine them for taking “souvenirs” of stalactites or stalagmites. Basically, we fine people for doing anything but looking.
In China, they put lights everywhere. Forget your torch. Not one part of the cave we walked through had been left looking “natural”. After all, natural is really rather boring. Why not have flashing lights of all different colours?
Yes, it was a dazzling experience.
And of course, you can’t go anywhere in China without being sold something. There were markets in the caves.
My little camera struggled with the dark cave, but you can still see the market stalls. With a few extra floodlights, it’s as good as being in the middle of a busy street in Yangshuo. Just a little more expensive.
So, if you happen to go caving in China, don’t worry about a torch. Just take your sunglasses.
In China, you can buy anything.
See for yourself.
And just in case you were worried that you’d never buy anything… This should ease your mind.
|Xavier dipping his toes in.|
In summertime, the river is not only the laundry, its also a swimming pool. Horses trot across the opposite bank. Swimmers take off down the current. Dogs are soaped up and washed. Rafts float down the fast-flowing current, giving rides to the hundreds of tourists that come to Yangshuo. Competition between them is fierce. We had a lady follow us from one end of the street to the other, trying to talk us into taking a ride on her raft. The nearer we went to the river, the more anxious she became. What if another riverman snapped up these tourists? Pity we didn’t want a boatride. We just wanted to walk and enjoy the river.
I love the colours and shapes of the mountains behind, contrasted against the fast-flowing river. This truly is a beautiful part of China.
So, we figure out solutions.
Hanging your washing out the window.
|Yes, those are our clothes hanging out the window. We’re trying to dry them.|
Parking your car on the footpath.
Keeping your pets in smaller cages.
Getting rid of cars and using scooters. Lots of them!
Building upwards (see the buildings behind?) or very close together.
And not using trucks (they are so big and take up so much room). It’s better to carry everything on a bike or three-wheeler. Anything from mattresses or boxes, to office-chairs or rubbish…even when it comes to moving house! We’ve seen it done.
Public Transport is the way to travel too. But of course, the other half of China agrees and usually they’re going the same place you are. Don’t expect to get a seat.
After all, there are a lot of people in China.
Interviewer: What was…
The highlight of the trip?
Mime: Our trip to Beijing. I did so many unbelievable things, like climbed the Great Wall, circumfrenced the Forbidden City, and explored the Summer Palace. It was amazing.
Interviewer: What scared you the most?
Mime: The fellow at the hairdressers when he made a cutting motion with my hair and began to pin it up. I was worried, to say the least. Cait has a photo to prove it. The traffic didn’t phase me that much. If we die, there’s always heaven. If my hair was cut into a peculiar Chinese style, well…
It turns out he was only drying it, after being washed.
Interviewer: The worst thing you smelt?
Mime: Pickled pineapple and market meat! Stomach turning, to say the least. Oh, and I couldn’t possibly forget trench toilets! Eiieww!!!
Interviewer: The best thing you ate?
Mime: Sweet and sour pork on our first day in Guilin was pretty good, and I do love steamed buns, which most people would look at and say “oh, stuffed dumplings.” No, dumplings are different, but still very good. Steamed buns are different, (according to the Chinese). The meat ones are best, with soysauce. And fried noodles from the markets!!! In the savoury department, they were to die for.
Interviewer: The saddest thing you saw?
Mime: Two things; first the monkeys at the People’s Park in Nanning, in a sunken rock exhibit with rubbish thrown on top and no water… The other was the happy little puppies in cages…so glad to see their devourers. We didn’t eat dog.
Interviewer: What would you have bought if you had the money?
Mime: A stalactite from the Dragon Assembly Cave…just kidding. That would not have fit in my luggage. So truthfully, a nice fancy expensive Chinese fan, or a flute…not very practical. And not very cheap. Or customs friendly.
Interviewer: What other places in China would you liked to have seen?
Mime: The Yangtze River, I think. Or Tibet. I would have happily stayed in China for another month…
Interviewer: Where was the most crowded place you visited?
Mime: Not the icon, the Great Wall, and not the Forbidden City–but the Beijing subway! Apparently the whole of China was going to the zoo that day (and the rest were at the Summer Palace.)
|That’s a lot of people…|
Interviewer: Would you recommend a trip to China for your friends?
Mime: What kind of a question is that??!! Of course! China is an amazing place, historical and old, and modern and new… Such a truly wonderful place should be visited at all costs. I learned so much about China while I was there, despite having studied a unit on China in my school work. For a fun holiday and an exciting learning experience, China’s the place to go.
Interviewer: What advice would you give someone going to China?
Mime: Don’t take the cheaper bus. Ligitimate is better (and faster. Read that story in Cait’s article “Introducing China.”) Be prepared to have your innocence ruined at the public toilets, and also be prepared to do things that would have been considered impossible. (Like crossing a six lane intersection when there’s no traffic lights, walking all over the Forbidden City, then all along one side, and then all the way to Starbucks a “ten minute walk in that direction”. Ten minutes, my foot! And another one is using a doorless toilet.) Be a good scout and “Be Prepared.”
We always find signs in China extremely amusing. It’s said that the Chinese just use google translator–and we can see why the myth stands.
Spot the mistakes…
Population: 1.34 million
Our plane landed on a cold (as in 12 degrees), overcast afternoon and presented us to China. It wasn’t a formal introduction. We collected our baggage, found our “tour-guide” (our brother-in-law), and took our first Chinese taxi. We were in China.
We drove from the airport to a restaurant and had our first Chinese meal: sweet and sour pork, taro-cakes, stir-fry, fried egg-plant, fried greens, and tea. (In China they fry everything…in lots of oil…to the point of extinction. Even the greens.) Then we took another taxi to the bus-station. Our first taxi-driver had decided, very nicely, to wait for us. Due to limited street-parking, he just drove the taxi, full of our gear, onto the sidewalk. The Chinese have lots of ingenuity.
|The First Bus Trip|
|Yes, we are standing on the road, not at the side.|
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