Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yangshuo and other random observations

I had never heard of Yangshuo, but at this moment it is my absoult favorite place in China. It is a very small town in the middle of the mountains and has a river through it. Needless to say it is infested with tourists. I can best describe it as a kind of Cape Cod/Nantucket in the US, Pucon in Chile and maybe a little bit like Rincon in PR. Everywhere you go there are advertisements for "western" food: pizza, burgers, falafel, steak. It's pretty funny the way they try really hard to cater to tourists by offering exactly what they paid so much money to get away from. There are hundreds of little bars and restaurants with neon lights and English words like Happy Hour, Sale, Bargain, Cheap Prices. They sell some really neat things too. I am not very good at the haggling yet. I try my best to appear uninterested and use the walk-away method, but my face shows it all. I have made Line, one of the danish girls my shopping buddy. She has a gift for it. Line has gotten the cheapest prices I have ever seen and her technique is flawless. All she has to do is say "how much" when the person comes over with a calculator and writes a ridiculously high price. Line says NO, that's too much, I will give you 5 and writes a five on the calculator (she always says 5 which is about 80 cents, regardless of the item. She would haggle a house for 5 yuan) and then they go back and forth. She helped me get a silk scarf for 10 after I was ready to pay 30. I haven't bought a lot, but I really want to perfect my skills before Line is gone.

The reason Yangshuo is so cool is because they are really smart business people and they charge you for everything, but make you think you are getting the "real chinese experience". They will teach you anything and take you anywhere. When we arrived,they had a list of optional activities ranging from cooking, dancing, kung fu, chinese language, rock climbing, rafting, calligraphy, tai chi, etc. etc. I chose the rafting and the cooking. Everything is about $20 which is super expensive for here, but really cheap considering they are like 3 hours long and they include everything. Today we did the rafting and it was absoultely beautiful. It was funny though, cause in the brouchure they show these rustic bamoboo rafts floating down a lazy river. When we got there, they were PVC pipes painted in green and had a little tiny motor in them. It was still amazing because the river was so shallow and clear and the mountaings are just breathtaking. We had a really great time taking pictures and just looking at the scenery. It is like 1000 degrees here, so even if the pictutures look nice and cool, don't be decieved. I am permanently drenched in sweat and so sticky that I have to scrape myself off chairs when I get up.

At night the stores are open until really late and people literally stalk you. They don't grab you but will just not leave you alone, almost like when you are teaching, you hear 100 voices go "Miss, miss, miss" "look miss" They also have fakes of EVERYTHING: watches, bags, t-shirts. so they go "you like Louis Vutton" or "you look nice in Prada". hahaha Some people learned the words "no thank you I am not buiying today" in Chinese. I just like saying witty things in English like "I am too fat for your clothes" or "That's not my style, I am more into Juicy Couture" etc. etc. It works too. Sadly, both are true. Apparently chinese women don't have hips or thighs. At least not like mine. I have tried on some cute things, but there is no hope I would ever fit into any of them. The shoes, I just gave up on even before i came.

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