There were so many other screamy kids that soon it all balanced out with noise coming from all angles, so it was okay? Is that how it works here? I especially loved this little girl who was wearing a shirt covered with PICTURES OF KRYSTEN RITTER. WHAT??? Whoooo do the parents think it is? Is she big here? I mean I hear Jessica Jones is great and I quite enjoyed Don't Trust the B**** in Apartment 23 but on a toddler's t-shirt? In China?! Such random shit here.
Aside from the overall minor noise and the food issues though, this boat was so amazing. As usual, the signage was great; I got a few of the goods. The second picture is blursula so check the captions.
Another main drawback was that it didn't have a pool, and like, the #1 activity in these parts is seriously 'having a pool'. The staff had promised us months ago that we could use the pool at their sister property 1 kilometer away anytime we wanted, and that they'd take us there. That's not the most convenient but hey it's better than nothing! Of course, of course, this being wild west China, the pool at the resort had to be emptied the day we arrived for some reason, and this being a land of low-to-no technology, it took more than 3 days to fill it. So despite asking every day 'can I please go swimming now?', I was repeatedly told that, sorry, the pool only has a foot of water in it/two feet/three feet/red fish/blue fish. Only on our very last day was I able to go, and only because the sister property's guests had apparently had enough and they were swimming even though the water STILL wasn't up to the proper level! So the other staff told my staff 'sure send her over there are people swimming anyway so who cares anymore.' Thanks! It was a pretty nice pool, kind of cold and...I don't think chlorinated? Also it wasn't until I was leaving after my swimming time that someone decided oh right we should be constantly filling this pool to get it back up to normal and then stuck a hose in. I mean. Get your shit together.
This sister prop had really nice grounds (ours was just a single building) and apparently had a gym too, so I was a little disappointed at first that we didn't choose this one, but like, I think I'd be even more pissed off if we chose the place that had a pool and paid for that amenity and then COULDN'T use the pool for three out of four days. If I were the guests there I'd be demanding money back.
So, our staff of apparent teenagers? felt bad? about how I couldn't go swimming? and about the smoke? no I don't think they did I think they just sensed my rage and didn't want me to hulk out, so they gave us teacups as presents. Now, that's a very nice gesture, don't get me wrong, but you've heard about the state of our backpacks. We now have bubble-wrapped orbs sticking out of them, taking up valuable peanut butter space. I hate living out of a backpack.
Z did indeed take the pills a few times. I know! The next day, after 3 or 4 epic pill-swallowing sessions (SO F-ING MANY), he looked at me and was like WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING TAKING THIS I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT IS! I went into town and got him regular cough medicine (children's, I think, best I could do).
Unfortunately, because of Z's sickness, it hindered what we could do with these four days meant for exploring nature and being all outdoorsy and stuff. I mean, most importantly, poor Z was sick, yes that's what I meant first. Further down the oh no list is how it affected my vacation of course. He just slept all day every day, pretty much. So I had that one day of swimming, I worked out a lot, we watched the one channel on the TV that had English movies (cut by ads at worse times than they do in the UK, which is quite a feat, like midsentence instead of the UK's preferred right-as-a-sentence-ends-but-before-you-hear-the-enunciated-end-of-the-syllable-so-it's-crazy-abrupt cuts), I went into the town by myself and had a shittonne of bubble tea, I went to a wacky expat's wellness center for a yoga class (we'll talk about that later). I should have done more myself, but a) I would have gotten so lost you can't even believe, b) I probably would have gotten injured, knowing me, and then been injured AND lost, and c) it was a nice bed, so, we were lazy and it was nice. At least we still got to enjoy the incredible karst scenery from the nice bed. The karst scenery is the kind of limestone landscape that got eroded into cray cray bananapants shapes like caves and grassy hills and overall mountainous terrain that juts out of nowhere, so it seems, and surrounds the village with peaks that seem completely alien to what should be there, like they were dropped in from nowhere to make the area look like a foreign planet with huge peaks and valleys of green. It's pretty awesome, and I guess I should have explored more by just like walking around it, but again, see above a, b, and c. The village our hotel was in was still the dusty dilapidated sort, and the town was only a slight improvement on that, so I think seeing the view from the balcony (from the bed) was probably the nicest way to enjoy the area. Or at least that's the story I'm sticking to for my benefit.
So about that yoga class...
There are two HappyCow places in Yangshuo town, a vegetarian Chinese restaurant we went to twice, called Lotus, and a Western hippie's wellness center + cafe called Mood Food Energy Cafe, with juice, smoothies, salads, and other western health food like tahini sunflower burgers, plus massages, meditation, yoga and other classes. I was eager to try their yoga classes, and maybe get a massage or try the 'tourmaline sauna' that the owner had raved about when I visited the first day just to gather information. When I went back for yoga, my first of what I hoped would be daily classes, I went in assuming, because the owner was an English-speaking man and all the staff i'd seen so far were white, that it would be in English. Fair guess, right? Everyone was white! I was the first student to arrive so I made myself comfortable and stretched on a mat. It was a pretty nice studio. Then an older lady walked in. I pointed to the mat set up at the front of the room for the instructor and then pointed to her, asking 'are you the instructor?' She smiled and went over to that mat and lay down on her back and started doing scissor stretches with her legs and arms. So I copied her. For like five minutes. We just laid there kicking one leg up then the other just chilling and getting warmed up, I assumed. This is a lot of assuming that has happened by now. And then, three other people came in, plus a younger Chinese lady who said something to the older lady which I'm gonna guess is, "hey that's my mat, I'm the instructor and that's where I go", and took her rightful place at the front. So I had spent five minutes following some random old lady's old lady stretches because I thought she was the instructor, and she apparently thought I had said, 'hey I got a mat out for you and put it at the front of the room, lady I don't know and didn't know was coming!' So I was already deathly embarrassed before we even started.
And then it started, and it was in Chinese. The instructor spoke English and tried her best to repeat everything for me after she'd explained to the others, but there's only so much time in a day so I'd hear like 3 minutes of Chinese explanation of a pose and its benefits or whatever, and then in English she'd simply say 'reach your shoulders like this.' So I didn't get the maximum benefit, I imagine.
It would be fine, not knowing the language of instruction, if it were a yoga class like any I'd ever done before. And I've done yoga since I was like, 17. That's a whole lot. But it wasn't a flow or anything familiar, and she didn't say the sanskrit names for poses. Because it wasn't really a 'doing poses' kind of yoga! It was so herky jerky and random. Like, we did a few sun salutations to warm up, that was great and familiar. But after those two minutes, we all got belts, and she wrapped them around our shoulders and we reached overhead for like, 15 minutes. It hurt! I have extremely tight shoulders and upper back, which has only worsened this trip with the backpack, and she was not happy about that. So instead of being like every other yoga professional in the world and gently offering ways to improve or stretch in a certain way to safely expand on this movement, she hoisted the belt back and up so hard that she almost dislocated my shoulder, and I was screaming in pain and she kept pulling my arms up and up where they clearly would not and could not go, until I looked at her and said 'stop!' Like, are you kidding me? What kind of yoga is this! Is it just because you can't sue for anything in China so they're like screw safe practices?!
After we tore our shoulders apart, she had us wrap the belts around our thighs and do variations on chair pose for 20 minutes. I didn't understand what kind of baby squat they were all doing until after she did her Chinese shpiel and then said to me, simply, 'like chair pose.' Thanks, finally! That was intense, obviously when held that long, and everyone was laughing through the pain but like, is this yoga? So strange. For this, since she kept wanting to pick on me for everything, she realized she hated my feet, like, a lot, and she tried to pull my big toes out to make them straight. I've told you before, I have bad bunions, so like, pulling my big toes to make them straight REQUIRES SURGERY, woman. After I realized what she was doing I was said 'clearly they aren't going to do what you want them to do, fake podiatrist!' It was ridiculous! Was she trying to break bones to see if the center could heal them with crystals or something after? Or was she just an idiot? Needless to say, despite the great thigh DOMS I got later, I did not return as I had originally planned. What a shame! I was so excited for a real yoga class with other people after all these months of travel and then I find one with a crazy lady literally trying to break all my bones. If anything though, this kind of made me want to get certified as an instructor JUST SO I could balance out her awfulness in the instructor universe with my normal-yoga-doingness-that-doesn't-lead-to-broken-bones.
After this super random class, I went downstairs and had dinner in the cafe. I was so excited for a big salad and other health food-y stuff, but honestly I have to say, while I liked the food okay, the service was abysmal. The friendly owner I had met days before wasn't there, and it was full of all these women who were kind of glaring at me the whole time. There was an office-type room full of white women working on computers - I think getting massage training? according to some signs in the room? - and they just kept staring and giving me resting bitch face and I was like duuuuudeeeee what is wrong I changed my sweaty clothes what am I doing wrong? Despite how awkward it's been for us as the only white people in a lot of these parts of China that we have trouble understanding and grasping, THIS was the most uncomfortable I'd felt in weeks - surrounded by other white women.
I only had one meal at the hotel, because the food was fine, but some of the staff members really put me off. Like they commented on how much food we ordered when it was literally like a salad, a tofu, and dumplings. That's a normal amount of food for one hungry person, let alone two. Shut up. Anyway, the food was just okay. The tofu was really good but the dumplings were not. And guess what kind of salad it wassssss yes you know it.
Given that the town had my favorite tea shop, a lot of mango smoothies, good vegetarian food, fun yoga adventures, and a decent overall vibe, I think I enjoyed my time there more than I did out at the remote teahouse - the complete opposite of what was supposed to happen. It's just that Yangshuo is meant for nature-tourism, and aside from looking at the beautiful scenery, I didn't actually do that. Maybe I squandered my time in the end, but I enjoyed myself in my own way. Also I slept a decent amount, which has been seriously lacking this summer so hooray! Despite its issues, we were able to relax at the Tea Cozy as intended and enjoy that view. So cool. Here's one last piece of karst for you!