25.12.2016 Merry Christmas Everybody

Hope you all have a great Christmas!

We had a visit from Santa! Yes, even in China Santa knows we have been good and left us presents, we got a foldable waterproof rucksack, wind up torch each and hand warmers  (very necessary here!), we were chuffed to bits with the presents from a very kind Santa, it made our day. 

Guy lies in bed but when Irish coffee or a pint of baileys doesn’t arrive, we get up for a Christmas breakfast of noodles with egg. 

We then walk through the atmospheric mist (definitely not rain) and hire bikes from the posh hotel down the road, we are welcomed with smiles and Merry Christmas from the chinese owners. 

Trusty steeds hired we retire to the local skandi design cafe (next door to the communist party office) for Guy to have his first ever caramel macchiato which is declared amazing, I stick to americano, single origin of course, and a waffle. 

We chat to a couple from Shenzhen who work in Hong Kong about the pressures of HK working and being chinese. We have a double expresso.

Fully caffeined up we start our bike ride. It is 11.45.

We haul our tai chi aching limbs on to the bikes and cycle the route we walked the other day, the weather is completely different so Guy needs to stop every 200m and take the same shots as previously.  

We stop to see a bride in the (now familar) lying on the raft pose. She is getting absolutely drenched but doesn’t complain. Also amazed at this spectacle was an English teacher from HK, on holiday.  We spend ages observing the photos and discussing HK, teaching, Mongolia and how we wouldn’t lie on a bamboo raft in a wedding dress getting drenched.

We ease ourselves back on the bikes and cycle more and end up chatting to another couple, Bill and Helga, we chat to them until they get a ferry and we get hassled to buy a flower headband.  It really had a Christmas feel about the day, everyone is smiling, waving hello, Ni Hao, Merry Christmas, we are loving the atmosphere. 

More cycling takes us to Moon Rock, on the tourist cycle ride. We haven’t the limbs to climb the steps to see it,  we take a photo from a distance.  It is more atmospheric that way!

We follow the signs to the Big Banyon tree but don’t see it, decide it can’t be that big aand carry on. It is 2pm, we are starving so we make our way into town.

A sign for gin and tonic for 15 RMB  (less than £2) draws us in like moths to the flame. Guy orders home made chips, I have shashluka with home made bread, it is a wonderful alternative Christmas day brunch. 

Yangshuo town is full of tourists, mainly chinese, there are a few westerners around but not many. We wander around, amazed at the new shopping centre cum hotel complex that is opened despite the finishing touches not being quite complete, the wiring, pavement covers and edging etc. There is a procession of youngsters in costumes, we have no idea what for but take a photo regardless. 

We see a bar selling red wine. It is a no brainer. We order a bottle of ridiculously over priced red wine. It is delicious, we savour it for ages.

Another wander around and we see a bar with amazing lights. We have a beer then head to the curry house for a traditional British Xmas meal of dal, jeera rice, butter chicken and naan bread. It is delicious but incredibly rich compared to what we have been eating recently.

By now it is properly chucking it down with rain, dark and we have family Skype appointments to keep at home, 4 km away. We grab our Santa torches and set off cycling with no other lights on our bikes just like locals.

We manage to have time delayed, pixilated conversations with home and settle down to watch more Rick Stein and catch up with our fellow tai chi mates.