The Tai Mountain quest finished up with a pretty short but sweet prize giving which left us with some time to experience a bit of the local Chinese culture… so we headed to the pub? I think it was kind of like a pub, it was what they called a Barbecue place, there was some beer, some tea, a massive mess of food scraps around some tables and there was some kickboxing on the big screen! The following morning our exit from the hotel was fairly sedate, out the door and on the bus by 11am. The headed straight to the Airport with a plan to store our gear and explore the city, but on our arrival we found that Jinan airport did not have a storage place and they were especially not keen to help us out with our huge baggage. That was it for us we had the whole rest of the afternoon to kill in the airport….
Our late flight had us arriving in at our transit airport overnight so it was a welcome relief to arrive at a hotel with a nice soft bed in Guangzhou. Eventually the next afternoon we arrived with our bikes in Guiyang airport, and the tension levels had increased considerably, the last 40 hours Flavio had way too much time to worry how mad we were going to go waiting around in Weng’an for the next race in 5 days time! Burger King was our saving grace I think, some western food and some time to relax we made the choice to head with the rest of the racers flying in later on to the hotel in Weng’an. Again we were treated to a great hotel, with some comfortable beds.
The next morning Flavio had it figured, he was going on a trip for a few days and looking for any friend that wanted to go. Julia and I, a little reluctantly I must admit, since we had just been travelling across China for 2 days already, jumped on board and by 10am we were in a taxi with a little less luggage heading to a train station not far away. Well turns out it was quite a way away, almost 2 hours away in a bit of a dead end looking rail station. Booking tickets for the train was the first time where we felt like we had been let loose, with no Chinese it was not as difficult as we might have expected it sorted! the adventure had began…but in the chaos of actually booking tickets we soon discovered that there was going to be a bit more waiting, like 4 hours of waiting, in somewhere that looked like the middle of nowhere….
It was such a long 4hours worth of waiting that it was pretty exciting just to see the high speed train arrive. When it did it took us a good 700kms away in 2 and a half hours to quite a famous place in China, Yangshuo. We thought that buying tickets for the train was an experience, but getting off the train and out of the station…there was mild chaos going on, first off two Chinese girls who spoke English quickly corralled us to share a taxi with them saving us and them costs, but then a Portuguese family who didnt speak any chinese turned up and Flavio being Brazillian quickly switched into his native tongue, leaving Julia and I to stand there somewhat like stunned mullets wondering what on earth was going on!
We got a ride right to the front door of the Yangshuo Village Retreat which Julia picked. Her stress levels were rising as we neared but when we walked into our rooms we were left stunned again at how amazingly it had all turned out! It was a very cool place to stay, a sort of bamboo like house, with plenty of space to chill out for a few days away from the hype of the racers back at the hotel in Weng’an.
The next morning we awoke to quite heavy rain, and unfortunately it was set to rain for the next few days. Since it was quite warm we were not going to let a little rain stop us and after some breakfast we were out and about exploring the town on foot. We ventured into quite a cool park and found some cool little karst mounds to take some pictures/conduct photoshoots for various social media platforms #NewWorldStMartins ! By the time we headed to the hotel the rain had eased off a little, the sun was on its way out so we hired some bikes from the hotel and set about exploring the town and the surroundings. Unfortunately the extent of our exploring for the next few days was a bit limited due to the persistent rain but we still managed to entertain ourselves. It was a real shame we were unable to go climbing as it sounded like the place to do it, but not in that weather!
It soon came time to head back and this time we had a guide with us, our new team leader. As it happened, as so often random occurrences happen on trips like this, a friend of Flavios had just moved to Yangshuo of all places! It was great to find a fellow kiwi and hang out with her for a bit, and especially handy that she could speak some chinese as well. Again it was a long way back across the country, 1.5hour by taxi, 2 hours by high speed train and almost 3 hours on the bus back to Weng’an much longer because the bus drive was driving “safely” this time around.
By the time we were back it was dinner time, so again a short transition before heading into town to find somewhere to eat. First place, fail… moral of the story never ask the local taxi driver where a good place to eat is. Next place, taxi driver two takes us to a hotel when we ask for a clean place to eat…. second failure. We wander around a few more places looking for something until we find something that looks like a children’s restaurant and we were ushered upstairs. Inside there was some pretty excited looking staff, they probably had never had Foreigners in the restaurant let alone athletes for the big race happening later in the week. We provided the what seemed like half of the kitchen a good 20 mins of entertainment as we ordered, then as we sat and waited. Afterwards came the obligatory selfies with the manager and various staff members before we had a grand escort out the door! I wont be surprised if our photo is pinned on the wall of that place!
The following day Flavio was not feeling good, unfortunately something didn’t agree with him, but he came partially ok before we headed out to a barbeque arranged by some of the other Kiwi’s who were staying in Weng’an and had helped out at an English school during the week. It was a cool opportunity to see how people actually live in these cities in China, and also to see their amazing rooftop garden that they we lucky enough to own. A very cool evening, and a great way to end a week or so of adventure before we were down to business the next day with the next race quickly approaching.