Firstly, Yangshuo is fucking mental. The most amazing sights. Delicious Food. Ridiculous activities. And strangely enough, a warm and welcoming expat community full of the craziest people from around the globe.
The more pretentious might describe Yangshuo as not a Chinese village or city – but a concept. I hate those people.
Getting to Yangshuo, however, is a different matter.
At this point in my China travels, I had been with my newfound best mate Tom, a loosey goosey British protester for about 3 weeks. Tom can best be described as the worst Brit alive. He hates tea, he hates cricket, he hates gin, and his not all fond of the Queen either (ask to see his tattoo).
So Tom and I were heading from Guangzhou in Guangdong province on a 7 hour bus journey to the large village called Yangshuo, just shy of Guilin. Tom and I were slow-train veterans at this point, but nothing could prepare us for, what we thought, would be a simple bus ride through the countryside.
This is partly our fault. The night previous we got on the booze; 4 yuan Baijiu (60% Chinese liquor) might be hard to swallow, but Jesus Christ will it get you fucking wasted. So. Riding on zero sleep and still quite drunk Tom and myself jump on the small, cramped bus to paradise.
As picturesque as the views may be, our seats only provided enough leg space for a malnourished dwarf. And to our luck, our seats were placed in the middle-right side. This, for some reason was where the bus drivers bed was located. This crudely welded and inserted bed stopped both of us from reclining our chairs even a FUCKING FRACTION. Then, while we wait for the other passengers to take their seats, the middle-aged Cantonese ladies in front of us proceeded to batter our knees to recline their seats. One would presume that after the initial 4-5 attempts you would quit trying. But both these ladies families egged them on. Throughout the 7 hour journey, every 40-43 seconds one of these excruciatingly loud ladies with matching pink ‘Colvin Klain’ shirts would reel back with unfathomable strength. Lastly the bus blared this 12 minute movie on repeat for the entirety of the journey. Jesus Christ I think I was murderously tired and irritated by the time the bus ride finished.
Anyway, Tom and myself endure hell and we finally arrive in the beautiful town of Yangshuo… or so we thought.
Yangshuo South Bus Station is most definitely south and most definitely not a station. Essentially, the bus dropped us off on an empty intersection roughly 20km from the town. Tom with his dual backpacker backpacks and myself with my huge video camera backpack and fancy suitcase hail a man on a motorcycle with a trailer connected to the back. Hopefully this tuk-tuk-esque man will drop us to our much needed accommodation. I showed him the address in Chinese and the man loaded us on and we rode off into the oncoming sunset.
The motorcycle/trailer man, who will now be referred as Kenny, rode about 6km before stopping and calling a mate. From what I understood through his mumbling half Chinese half slurred jibberish conversation was that he was calling a mate to pick us up. At this point Tom and I were expectedly livid but we had to trust in Kenny, he was our last hope.
Kenny’s friend (who will now be referred to as Kenny 2), who also owned a motorcycle/trailer rocked up and we were told to go with him. Again, trusting in Kenny 2, we rode into the now pitch black night on a 1960s diesel guzzling moto-trailer. Kenny 2 drove for about 10 minutes before pulling over a local bus stop. Again in a mumbling Chinese/jitter he tells us to get on the green bus.
Fuck me right?
So Tom and myself wait ever so patiently whilst chain-smoking our frustrations away. Kenny and Kenny 2 had in effect delivered us to another bus stop rather than our accommodation.
Regardless, we jump aboard the green ‘bus’, which was populated by a mixture of school children, pensioners and farm people. Our fake smiles were met with piercing gazes and confused looks that could only translate into “Why the even fuck are you on this bus?”.
We ride this bus for about another 25 minutes (at this point we arrived 2-3 hours earlier) and finally we get told to get the fuck off by the accommodating bus driver. At last we are somewhere that doesn’t quite look like the middle of nowhere.
I was informed Yangshuo was a small village. Nup. This densely populated village with a million or two Chinese tourists made Sydney Harbour on New Years look slow.
Again with all our baggage and in such an exasperated state, we navigate this crowd without a single fuck to get our hostel. Children and the elderly were not spared.
We finally arrive, drop our luggage, head to bar where I am served good ol’ Aussie goon. I would like to say all this effort was worth that glass of sweet sweet fruity lexia but seriously: Fuck Chinese Buses.