Monday, July 28, 2008

One day to go!

Wow. Feel pressed for time as I write this- have done a lot since my last post in Kaili! Writing from Shanghai now, on the second to last night of the trip! I've been keeping quite busy since Kaili. This will be brief, so let's fill in on some fun.
After Kaili, took a 9 hr bus ride to Yanghsuo! Though long indeed, the scenery couldn't be beat as we neared Yangshuo! Before arriving I knew I was psyched for this place. Had heard many a good thing about Yangshuo from Jesse, Kate, and several others who had been there. Supposedly a "backpackers hangout" and a scenic spot to relax, go bike-riding, hike, shop, etc. As the bus neared Yangshuo we were met with impressive mountain peaks that jutted out of the ground in all sorts of directions. Really the mountains around the area are amazing...I hope to put pictures up soon! The shapes are very distinct and unique, unlike anything I've seen before.
Spent 3 nights there and probably could have stayed a bit longer, if only there was more time! Filled the days with lots of activities: bike rides through the countryside, a hike up a mountain to the infamous Moon Hill (a large, stone, bridge-like structure with a "moon" carved out underneath), a float down the Li River on a bamboo raft, a river boat cruise, trip to local school for a welcome performance, and much more! Oh yes, and in Yangshuo there are several "western-style" restaurants serving anything from pizza to burritos. I took this opportunity to break from the Chinese food and order from a hole in the wall restaurant claiming to have the "best veggie burgers in town." And guess what? They did! Seriously, more like the WORLD'S BEST VEGGIE BURGER, hands down. Totally home-made on the spot: carrots, onions, peppers, tofu, and all other sorts of delicious-ness. (Sorry Dad, they didn't give me the whole recipe! )
Needless to say, the students and I all had a great time in Yangshuo. Felt nice to find a happy medium between the isolation of rural village life and the loud hustle-bustle of big cities. And in summary, beautiful!
After Yangshuo we drove an hour to Guilin, the capital of Guangxi province, where we hopped on a 2 hr flight to Shanghai. It's the second day here, and so far, so good. While my morning wasn't so exciting (woke up at 5:30 to escort two American students to the U.S consulate to issue new passports- one student from my group and one from the China North group lost theirs!!! bad timing- then took a 45 min. trip to the other side of Shanghai to go to the secuirty bureau for an exit visa..I'll spare the boring details, needless to say, I'm incredibly thankful for having a wealth of support from local Chinese guides and contacts because that's the only way we were able to complete these tedious processes in a day's time!)- this afternoon visited some shopping areas.
Tonight, saw an amazing acrobat performance! One of the coolest things I've ever seen in my life I'd have to say. Put on by the Shanghai acrobat group (or something like that), about 20 or so different performers entertained for nearly two hours doing all sorts of crazy things... you'd never believe the strength, balance, and flexibility of these people! Incredibly talented, and I must say, I regret not learning acrobatics as a kid!

Feeling exhausted and am in desperate need for sleep! Can't believe I have to call Malaysia Airlines tonight and confirm my flight to Bali in just two days! Life's cruisin by.

All for now...

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