random guilin bus station crowd
i was sad to leave the backstreet youth hostel. sad because despite the fact their television didn't work and hot water was only available at nights, i lived pretty well during my stay in guilin. going to yangshuo, i was only able to reserve rooms for the 3rd and the 4th, but today and tomorrow, i had no idea where i was living, and with the start of the october holiday, all of china was mobilized for vacation travel and going anywhere would be a hassle as well as expensive, since traditionally everyone raises their price by 2-3x.
i was expecting armageddon but instead i got something a little less. the bus station where i got my ticket to yangshuo (i got there around 10:40am but all the seats were booked until 12:20pm) was crowded, but it could've been just because it was the weekend. the crush of people i was expecting to see i never saw. there was a slightly frenzy in the air, but it wasn't that bad.
the trip to yangshuo was 1:20, and from the bus i could see many bilingual "rooms available" signs plastered everywhere in town. i was afraid i'd have to sleep on the streets, but apparently accomodations were still available. the problem: at what price? as soon as i got off the bus, i followed the first tout who said they knew a hotel with empty rooms. i followed a lady across the street to the pan tao hotel, next to the fawlty towers hotel. the room was okay, AC and TV and western toilet. i asked how much. "RMB$180 today, RMB$260 tomorrow." price gouging is the norm during the chinese holidays, so i didn't even flinch when i heard these inflated prices and took the room immediately.
yangshuo bus station
i took a hot shower at the hotel and snacked on some chestnuts. since it was the holiday, there were special programs on television, like a channel broadcasting abbreviated versions of american movies. i watched star wars episodes 1 2 and 3 in just under an hour and a half. not wanting to stay in the hotel all day, i finally went out.
yangshuo, besides famous for its karst landscape, is also well-known for its high density of western tourists - although with so many chinese tourists filling the streets, it was hard to pick out the foreigners. a lot of shops had signs in english and many restaurants and bars seem to cater to the western taste, advertising things like german beer or italian pizza. since i didn't eat anything yet, i visited a chinese dumpling restaurant to get some food. i walked down west street - the heart of yangshuo - and ended up at the li river.
i spend a long time trying to find the yangshuo branch of the backstreet youth hostel, the place where i'd be moving to on the 3rd anf 4th. i even called them up asking for directions, but it was no help. after about 2 hours of walking around, i finally managed to find it, hidden away down an alley.
for dinner i had some xinjiang lamb kabobs in a pita bread, then had a drink on the balcony of the twin peaks cafe. i met an israeli couple, the same ones i briefly talked to back at the guilin bus station. we traded china travel stories and they gave me some yangshuo maps they didn't want anymore.
yangshuo at night
back at the pan tao hotel, they had RMB$2/hour internet access so i took the opportunity to retroactively post some photos from last week. back in the room, after a hot shower, i cranked up the AC and watched abbreviated versions of die hard.
october 1st is actually chinese independence day, but with communism so far away from people's minds these days (making money is the new revolutionary cause), there wasn't any fireworks or parades and the only thing celebratory i saw was a news story about a flag raising in beijing that looked more like a funeral.