We arrived in Yangshuo on Saturday, 5 May after a nice overnight train journey. We lucked out at got 2 shy and quiet Chinese berth mates. Our first impression was that the town was bigger and more touristy than expected – there is even a KFC and McDonalds. The landscape is beautiful with towering karst mountains in every direction. The main street is crowded with the usual street vendors and kiosks selling textiles, calligraphy, jewelry etc. There are so many restaurants and cafes and it’s hard to see how they all survive. We made our way to the ShowBiz hostel and settled in.
Our primary objective on arrival was to sort out language classes for ourselves. We intended to study with Janie but she was busy with a camp and recommended her friend Lucy. We emailed and arranged to meet the following morning. We spent 3 hours with Lucy on Sunday customizing our next 3 days (we decided we couldn’t spend a whole week as we have too much to pack into a month). That afternoon we took a bamboo boat ride on the river, then enjoyed a 5 yuan beer on the roof.
The next 3 days were really long but really good. We met up with Lucy at her classroom (about a 10 minutes walk from the hostel) at 9:30am everyday and finished around 10pm. It was a great combination of classroom learning, cultural activities (calligraphy, cormorant fishing show), applied practice and of course, a few breaks. On the second evening, we went out to eat with her Chinese students and we all practiced speaking over noodles and beer. And on the last night, Lucy hosted a good-bye tea at the classroom where our new Chinese friends joined us for a tea ceremony and more practice!
John and Lucy showing the work of the morning- learning traditional Chinese characters
Whilst we are still beginners, we are now able to order things, introduce ourselves and engage in basic conversation which has already come in useful- and we met some really fun people. This will definitely help us continue to avoid the ‘western touristy’ places and get to the local spots:) We anticipate that there will be many places where no English is spoken so we should get a chance to practice- a lot!
Overall, our stay in Yangshuo was excellent. The Showbiz hostel was nice – we had a double private room which was clean and comfortable. They had laundry facilities and drinking water (free!) and it was in a great location. There were plenty of options for food and drink- the best food was the $1 lamb noodle soup at a local shop that Lucy showed us which was a real gem among the $20 popular restaurant options lining the main street. Even McDonalds was too expensive for us (we always keep it as a back up and they have AC). But the best thing was the language class and getting to meet some new friends- thank you Lucy!!
Lucy and her students- a great learning experience & new friends!