Yangshuo is a small tourist village in southern China. It took about a 2 hour taxi ride from the Guilin airport on mostly dirt or otherwise unimproved roads to get to our new home. We’ve now been here for just over a week & have finally settled in enough to catch up enough to have contact with the outside world & get used to life a bit here.
When we arrived our host, Omeida Chinese Academy showed us to the apartment we’ll be staying in until May. It’s a bedroom in a 4 bedroom apartment with a private bath & shared kitchen. If you plan to come to China use a bit of expectation management and be greatful for all the little things people do to help you transition. Always remember it isn’t home so don’t expect it to be the same. Expect as described earlier in another blog hard bed, expect asian style toilets, & the need to carry tissue/toilet paper with you, expect to have difficulty communicating. Be flexible and learn from each experience. If you’re given the wrong dish when you order try something new, maybe they didn’t understand you. If you pay a bit more for something then realize you could have bartered, laugh it off it wasn’t really enough to fuss over. Be generous in your actions, give your time when you can to assist as needed.
Omeida Academy has been very helpful in helping us with anything we need to get settled. I’m very thankful for all they’ve done to help us in a new area & hope we can assist them at the academy in as many ways as possible. We have been able to rent heaters from them as it is very cold & wet right now in Yangshuo & they have assisted us in finding various items we’ve needed from local shops. We both ended up with colds and they were very helpful in helping us to get what we needed to feel better.
In the short time we’ve been here we’ve been able to find wonderful fresh local places to eat and are getting to know the staff as much as we can even with the language barrier. Not many people in these parts speak English so be prepared to use a lot of gestures and try new things when it’s difficult to understand one another. Typical meals in the area only cost between 10-25CNY ($1.50-3.85USD) for 2 at the local places & maybe double that if you go into West Street to get more western style foods.
If you’re a coffee drinker be prepared that coffee is sparce & difficult to find here. No chance of getting a morning coffee in these parts. The few places we’ve found it don’t open until the afternoon & will cost you about double what lunch cost.
After several days looking for a good breakfast place we found a small dumpling place just down the street. I love going in there getting some dumplings or other various foods and sitting and listening or gesturing with the older ladies working there. We can only say or understand a few words from each other but they’re very animated and we are able to communicate through facial expressions & gestures to share many laughs with our breakfast. It makes me sad when I have to take my breakfast to go due to time or other restraints because I greatly enjoy these ladies’ company.
We spent a few days just exploring the area on foot then bought bikes to get around easier. The bikes are used and cost 1500CNY each(or at the current exchange rate $250USD each). If you spend a little more time looking you can probably find someone in the area who you can barter down for the purchase of a bike cheaper than what we got. After the purchase we met some others who got quite nice mountain bikes for around 1000CNY. After getting the bikes we took off for a ride out in the country where we hadn’t been yet. We passed a few very very small villages and found farmland that looks like they are building new hotels and such. We hadn’t gotten used to the prices yet for coffee but had for lunch. We assumed that since lunch was so cheap that a coffee couldn’t be that much and ordered 2 espressos. First big mistake here is that we assumed and ordered without checking the price. After drinking the coffee we found out that it was 50CNY for the 2 espressos. We only had 25CNY on us. The lady did not speak much English but saw the look of shock on our faces and smiled & said it was “ok.” We couldn’t tell if she understood us or not but we tried to tell her we’d come back & pay the rest the following morning. So the next morning we went for another bike ride in the same direction to pay her the full amount for the coffee. They were very surprised to see us & another lady working there gave us a big hug when she realized why we were bringing her the 25CNY. I don’t think they expected us to return to pay the rest but I’m glad we did after seeing the look on that lady’s face. LESSON LEARNED check prices before ordering in a new area!
I’ve started my marketing volunteering with Omeida Chinese Academy & Robert has started his English conversation volunteering with Omeida English Academy. We are not contracted for very many hours. Only 3 for me & 2 for Robert per day, but we quite enjoy our time there and end up spending many hours there anyways. Omeida has already had so many activities since we’ve arrived that have been great fun. You can read more about specific activities in the next several blogs that I will post.
In the mean time I hope you enjoyed reading and if you have any questions or comments please let me know & I’m off to relax with lunch before heading to Omeida.