Monday, July 18, 2011

We are home

Well actually it has been a few days, but we have settled back into being home now and are mostly unpacked. Here is Dylan doing what he does when we return home from a LONG trip,
celebrating with his long lost toys.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

China Post #41 Li River Cruise and Bus

On our last day in Guilin Linda was giving a presentation on environmental responsibility to the workers at Ging BaBa's company. They grow organic mushrooms and other product and then make them into Chinese medicine. While she was giving the presentation Dylan and I headed out on the true Li River cruise. We were picked up at the hotel by a van and met up with a bus that took us right past the tourist shops that we had stopped at on the Chinese tour and straight to the dock. There were certainly shops at the dock but that was to be expected and we were not there for long anyway. We boarded a boat with 3 levels, two inside and the last outside as well as some decks on the second level. Once onboard we joined the procession of boats on the Li River headed towards Yangshuo.
As we were motoring along the river these guys on bamboo rafts would paddle up to the boat at an angle and ease their way in to be able to grab hold and tie up to the boat.
They would either be selling fruit or some type of souvenir, you could do your shopping on the river.
There were countless beautiful sights along the way, including this that is considered one of the best in all of China, shown on the back of the 20 yuan bill.
Here is Dylan enjoying his boat ride.
After making it back to Guilin we had to get things packed up to head to Wuzhou the next day. Wuzhou is where Linda was born and her family lived before moving to Hong Kong briefly en route to Dallas. In the morning we headed to the bus station in Guilin and Linda took some pictures of the snacks that you could get in the station, such as these.
The scenery continues for hours outside of Guilin with seemingly endless karst peaks and small farming town tucked in the valleys between.
It took about 3 hours before we finally emerged from the karst forest into a landscape of more rolling hills. Wuzhou took about 4 hours to get to in total and is quite a bit lower, there is a river that flows down from Guilin to Wuzhou. Wuzhou is a small city built around the confluence of the river from Guilin and a larger river which dominate the landscape along with the rolling hills.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

China Post #40 Yangshuo 1

Quick post before we head off to Linda's home town where we will not have internet access.

Busy night scene on West Street in Yangshuo.
On our first day we hired a "guide" to take us climbing. It was going to cast us about half as much to rent a rope and hire a car to get us out there and back anyway. Our guide, Dane, was great with Dylan and Popo so it was well worth the 400 yuan. We headed to the Egg on the first day, the trail head.
Popo and Dylan hanging out in an arch that separates 2 sections of cliff at the Egg.
Dylan with Popo and GonGong.
Linda cleaning a 5.10+ that was really reachy in the upper half.
Interesting family store next door to the climbing shop that we used and hired Dane through.
Whoops, forgot to rotate this one. Anyway, this is the sign at the gate to Moon Hill, lucky for us they don't enforce it, it is probably meant more for scrambling though.
The view looking out through the moon hill arch back down at the village where our hotel was.
Starting up the great route, Over the Moon 5.12c
High on Over the Moon, right before my lack of climbing and related fitness reared its ugly head resulting in various responses from the spectating hikers.
After my battle I needed a cold drink which we bought from this little 70 year old woman that hikes up the 800 steps to Moon Hill every day with a cooler, she also has beer.
Our guide/friend Dane riding the Flying Horse, the Chinese name for Over the Moon, while cleaning the route.
This is the sign that guards the trail to get to the actual top of the Moon Hill arch.
Linda and I climbing the pole planted in the very top of Moon Hill.
The family in front of the hotel in the small village below Moon Hill, the Yangshuo Village Inn.

China Post #39 Guilin Li River Tour

We woke up our first day in Guilin and headed out for Guilin ni fun, or Guilin noodles.
Basically rice noodles with some meat, an egg and all sorts of sour or spicy chopped veggies to put on top of them. After breakfast we were picked up by the tour company in a van, driven a short ways and transferred to a bus. It appeared as though we were headed for the docks for the Li River cruise which is one of the "must do" activities in many of the China guide books. How ever we were on a Chinese tour and not a Westerners tour. Shortly after the road sign to the docks we pulled into a little souvenir mall on the side of the highway. OK, just get through the 20 minutes we were going to be there and get on or way, they turned the bus off which meant that we had to go in since sitting in the bus in 90 degree temperatures is not really an option. Once we got on the road we immediately made a U turn, WHAT. Then it got better, the tour guide I guess said that we could take the regular road or if everyone would pony up some money we could take the toll way and get to Yangshuo faster. Pretty much everyone wanted the toll road so we made good time to Yangshuo and headed to a temple. By now we had figured out that it was not the Li River cruise that we were on but a tour that included a short excursion on the Li River. At the temple there were Buddha's and stairs, of course. There was also a.....
And here are Dylan and GonGong looking at the fish around the other "coptive anlimals"
We drove past Moon Hill on several occasions and had lunch across the street from the trail head which just made me drool since it is one of the feature crags of Yangshuo.
We headed to the dragon cave which was interesting. You take a boat through small lake at the entrance then walk through the cave which is filled with colored lights to highlight the different stalactites and mites.
Finally we were able to get on the Li River. The boats that we took were these things made out of sewer line sized PVC pipe.
Linda and Dylan on the boat with karst peaks in the background.
I really don't know how to describe it, there are peaks everywhere. It is kind of bizarre how they seem to be never ending. Here is one with a bunch of water streaks called "Painted Hill of Nine Horses" since it is claimed that there are nine horses, I could only see a few.
Taking a boat on the Li River is really amazing and totally worth the time. Even when you are subject to the hard sell. We were taken to a shop of sorts were they seat everyone in a room and talk about their product and how good it is then bring you into the show room and try to sell you stuff, all the time the door is kept closed so that you can't leave. Anyway, it was an adventurous day that got us to Yangshuo and on the Li River even if not for as long as we had hoped.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

China Post #38 Photos for #37

Here is what we were greeted by when we got to the Dalian airport.
Crowds of people waiting to even be allowed to check in, some were apparently getting belligerent.
More crowds around the gates waiting to board buses to the planes.
The pathetic excuse for fog that caused all the delay.
The flight we were on was supposed to leave at 8am and eventually left at 6:45pm, I don't think our flight ever left since it was scheduled for 4 and a half hours later.

In the Shanghai Pudong airport there is a series of sculptures that we went past on our way to our flight to Guilin this afternoon. Dylan quite liked them.
Not sure what was on the computer but it seems interesting.
And rushing to the gate to make their flight on time.
Releasing the Shanghai haze into the plane prior to take off, it is probably cool humidified air.
The ubiquitous Chinese construction with a back drop of limestone karst peaks.
The motor scooter is more popular than the car here in Guilin.
Saw a few of these things around. Not sure what they are, kind of like a small tractor with a flat bed put on for cargo. None of them had hoods.
Linda's parents with Gin Papa and Mama at dinner after arriving in Guilin.
Here is Dylan running along through the Shanghai airport.

Friday, July 1, 2011

China Post #37 Dalian Airport Troubles

So I like the fog in Dalian because it reminds me of the San Francisco bay area. However, the airport does not deal with the fog very well. On Thursday morning I said goodbye to Finbar, a guys from Ireland that we got to know a bit and on Friday morning he was back at the Shama. This should have set off the alarm. He had not been able to get out of Dalian airport because of the fog. We showed up at the airport around 10:30 for our 12:30 flight and did not see it on the board. What we did see however was an airport with about 10x the number of people that are normally there, one thing that the Chinese seem to do really well is move people through at least check in and security. After asking around we were told we could not check in and that the flight was delayed, but nothing else, no time estimate. We spent some time milling about and running into Finbar who was trying to get out again. We were then told maybe on Monday??? it is Friday. The flight was not officially canceled so we continued to hang around and got some lunch. Eventually we managed to get on a different flight to Shanghai that was supposed to leave at 8:00am and now had a boarding time of 4:00pm, at least we were going to be able to make the first half of our trip to Guilin.

We did not get on the plane until almost 4:45, OK now we are on our way. Not so fast, when we were headed to Xi'an with my parents we spent 2 hours sitting on the runway waiting, for what we don't know since we were never told. Naturally after they got us on the airplane this time we sat there until 6:45 before taking off. Since our flight to Guilin from Shanghai was scheduled for 6:50 we were going to miss that for sure. After arriving in Shanghai we had to deal with finding a flight the next day to Guilin and sucking up the lost money on the tickets for the flight we missed and finally finding a hotel for the night.

So now we are in the Shanghai airport waiting for our flight to Guilin.

This is the 3rd time out of 6 times that we have flown in or out of Dalian that there has been a significant delay. Strangely enough on another occasion the flight actually left early, so you never know what you're going to get.