Yangshuo

I took a chance and went directly to the train station to buy my ticket from Nanning to Yangshuo rather than ordering it ahead of time. I was curious to know how close to West Street the Yangshuo Station could be. Not very. Yangshuo had mushroomed into an ugly, widespread, mass that undulates through the valleys of the karst hills. As it had never had a train station one was built about an hour from the once popular backpackers delight of West Street, the Li River, and the surrounding hills. The hills are still stunning, shrouded in mist, jutting from the green like toys scattered by young giants.

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An unobstructed view from the boat
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Lushness

The positives were that the train trip was uneventful, maybe six hours, and the bus trip from the station did provide views.  Unfortunately it was difficult to find the right one and a nightmare of epic proportions to find transport once we were close to my destination. I feared I would be lost in the karst hills – except they were not very close. At the bus station in the centre of Yangshuo I was dismissed with a vague hand flapping towards the exit and a gutteral command to ‘go there’. After a few phone calls, me determinedly stating I would not pay the outlandish cost demanded by some motor cart drivers, and fending off all the others, I started to walk. Although I  had no idea where I was going I looked like I did. I probably made it no further than 20 metres when a motorbike pulled up beside me and the driver said he would take me for ten kuai. No more than 2.00CAD. Hey, I had just done 14 days on the back of a motorbike in Vietnam so no problem. I hopped on like a pro, still wearing my backpack and other bags – no helmet, no idea where we were going. Barely five minutes later we were there. I would have never found the place on my own.

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Hey, it’s nearly Halloween! (Pizza Hut sign in the background)
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I thought I had finally found a place with some originality – my hopes and dreams were dashed – closed

Yangshuo is no longer quaint, no longer has silly names for hotels, bars and restaurants. Gone were the rather seedy Fawlty Towers Hotel, Minnie Mao’s Restaurant, and Hard Seat Cafe as well as all the other wonderful, family owned places I had discovered with my children when we lived in China. (I checked for the hotel after, it does still exist although I could not find it) To my absolutely horror and amazement, just down the street from my hostel was a McDonald’s and around the corner a Starbucks! On West Road, the main pedestrian street (1400 years old) was a KFC and a Pizza Hut. Yangshuo had fallen hard to the gods of consumerism. Even the tourist shops had taken on a more polished look. However, there was still a load of bars and restaurants to choose from, and I did find some great, if somewhat more expensive than in less touristy spots, street food. I admit that I did take advantage of being so close to McDonald’s a couple of times to buy coffee when I ran out of milk to make my own. After my first full day, and again on my last night, the hostel staff admitted that the little town had grown so quickly that there was little organization – everyone had fallen to the mighty dollar. (Where had the interests of the collective gone? – tongue firmly in cheek)

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Water Buffalo
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Traffic jam (ignore the date, I messed up with my camera)
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On the shores all was quiet

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At least we had tea in porcelain cups

I became somewhat disheartened when it seemed nearly impossible to actually get to any of the hills without breaking the bank or endangering life and limb by cycling to various spots. I could have rented a bike and ventured out on my own if I were not deathly afraid of cycling on the road. Especially without a helmet! I never ride on the road at home and I wear a helmet on trails. I had hoped to find find a guide looking for potential riders – they all seem to have disappeared or work for tour companies or rent out bikes. I did not want to spend my time shopping for a tour with guide which meant I also had to accept I was limited to the immediate area. I went on a cruise instead. This time from Yangshuo, past Xingping but not all the way to Guilin. It was a pleasant morning to mid-afternoon to relax, take a lot of photos and enjoy the misty Karst hills that the region is famous for. I am happy to report it is still mainly mist rather than pollution. The main difference from 15 years ago, other than the guide speaking only Chinese – thank goodness she did not talk the whole time like on some tours – was the lunch is no longer freshly caught seafood, cooked at the bow of the boat. There was fresh river crab, and another dish – for a price. Modernization means rubbish and tasteless. We were given microwaved meals served in disposable trays. To add to the sad realization everything would be thrown out was just how chock full the river became with boats wending their way up and downstream. I was part of the problem rather than the solution. Sigh.

Another day I took a walk in Yangshuo Park, a local, nearby area popular with retirees, families and a great gathering place for musicians. The clear air, when I was there, and surrounding sharp hills had great acoustics. Parks are quite popular as autumn slides towards cooler days. As I had made the choice to forego expensive, hurry up tours to the various famous hills I headed for one of a few that have paths from the park. None of these are very difficult to climb if you are fairly steady, in relative good health and are not afraid of heights. Good knees are a bonus. Considering my knees and fear I took and watched each step with care. First climbing attempt I found two used needles. Needless to say, I turned around. Another hill (these ones were not really in the class of mountains) chosen to ascend was more difficult with its twisty, steep steps and paths. There is no way to reach its peak so I rested at a natural platform, where I met up with a young couple, to take in the view. Climbing down was not as easy, I was worried I would slip. (Which I did but we will not tell my children and I did not fall). Another spent needle. Oh China.

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Tradition is not dead in China. Er hu (two strings) and folk opera

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On the steps going up the hill pictured below. I found another on another hill.
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I have no idea if the flag represents something important; and now few climb up due to the poorly kept pathway and unsavoury activities
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Down, down, down – no handrails

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I would have loved to know what the inscriptions say
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View from one of the park hills

I felt so good after that climb and descent I did one more. This time to a reach a pagoda that I discovered had two lower sections to it with little bridges to them. Great for taking a break. It was interesting to see the attempt to make the well polished stone steps safer by covering them with concrete. Concrete that was crumbling and made the way more difficult to traverse. It also mars the the carvings in the steps although some have had enough of the covering chipped off over time to see them now. I have no idea how old the steps or pagoda are as there were not any notices. I also did not make it to the third tier. One fellow, perhaps in his 40s came running up the steps, encouraged me to continue, then came running down while I was picking my careful way back.

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Xing Ping architecture. The slates are generally used for roofing

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Cafe China in Xing Ping – maybe some visitors do not realize where they are – actually delicious, nice to sit at a table with a tablecloth, and not be rushed. Very reasonably priced

To vary my routine of walking along West Road I took a bus to the village of Xingping, a miniature version of Yangshuo, pedestrian street, river access and tourist traps included. At least I did not see any of the western traps there. I even managed to get to the bus without getting lost this time. A great way to waste a day away, take the bus for the views, spend some hours window shopping, eat lunch, then the bus back to take in the view on the other side. I will admit that although I was no longer smitten with Yangshuo I was still in love with the mountains.

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iPhone did not do the setting justice. The orange is from torches carried by performers
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Red ‘silk’ (no idea if it really was silk) drawn across the water. Again, photo does not show how stunning this was

On my last night I took in the Impressions Water Show. I am so glad someone on a Facebook post told me about this although I rather doubted it could really be the highlight of a visit. I had no idea I could be so mistaken. Created by Zhang Yi Mou, the director and choreographer of the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, and the movie Raise the Lantern, the outdoor venue, Shanshui Theatre (Mountain & Water) with the natural backdrop of Karst hills, and the Li River main stage, tastefully lit by lowlights, is magical. As darkness descends the audience din lowers to an attempted murmur – the seating capacity of 2200 anchored, and built up, at one section of the natural bowl of the space, does tend to move in waves, much as the music did. Any amplified instruments and singing was easy to hear whereas natural voices were often overcome by the audience and the whims of the winds. However, the magic that literally unfolded in front of us did not miss a beat. Six hundred local, a good portion of them from the ethnic minority, performers give the audience a fantastic 70+ minutes to be drawn into ancient myths that wrap around the culture. A perfect ending to what was most likely my last visit to Yangshuo.

Little end note. The bus I was to catch to the show forgot about me so I ended up, once again, on the back of a motorbike, this time with one of the hostel staff and the driver, no helmet, in the dark, to the venue. With repeated instructions to meet the bus driver at #99 at the entrance after the show I hopped off and was swept up by the flow of attendees. The magic had me forgetting the worries of getting back until I had left the theatre and entered the mass exodus headed for buses, cans, cars, motorbikes and bicycles – at a completely different gate from the entrance. I was lost in the dark. I felt despair. I felt anger. I felt little. All very well but not very useful. As I gained my equilibrium I took out my phone and hit the language app Baidu, typed in entrance then showed it a few people until someone figured out where I had to go. A little reminder that it was, after all, an adventure.

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Guilin wall – the man at the entrance simply would not move
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However, it does not do to wait!
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OMG! Real, fresh vegetables and Hummus!! I had leftovers for the train.

I left the next day for to spend one night in Guilin before catching a train to Luoyang. Guilin was another surprise after swearing I would never stay there again all those years ago. I could be convinced to give it another try if given the opportunity. Yet another city with a subway system that was not even a suggestion when I lived in China. Like Nanning, also very new and anchored to the train station. Smart engineers.

 

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Vietnam: Hoi An

My ten day trip ended in Hoi An where I met with my daughter who had arrived there the previous day. Unfortunately, she was not happy with my choice of hotel and let me know it every s i n g l e day. We were there for FIVE days! This was a major reminder as to why I travel solo – I was beginning to doubt the upcoming four day trip we had booked would happen. So much so that by the second day I was in Hoi An I cancelled my driver and was looking into flights back to China or even home to Canada – always follow up on consequences once stated. My daughter was shocked enough to ask me to try to reverse that decision. I mulled over it, told her some concessions were necessary, then contacted my lovely guide. The trip was on, my daughter and I agreed to only spend some of the time together – Hoi An was looking friendlier.

I liked that although our hotel was not within the immediate vicinity of Old Town it was close enough to withstand the heat and humidity that I found it was only just bearable. Each day I left with my hat, umbrella and a full bottle or two of water as well as a granola bar. When my daughter asked if I needed anything from home I asked for more granola bars. She threw in a pair of sandals she had travelled in the previous year – to replace the pair stolen from me in Saigon – because she knew how much my knees would suffer if I only had flip flops. These ended up being my main footwear for the remainder of my travels except when my sturdier walking shoes were necessary. It is these actions that remind me my daughter is basically a good person. We just have to take each other in small doses.

We visited Old Town a few times. This is definitely what draws tourists. The area has a quaint, lazy bustle feel to it during the daytime with many opportunities to visit small, local museums, a couple of old courtyard homes and of course the 18th century, Japanese wooden bridge that sits at one end of the old town. This a favourite spot for photos – nearly impossible to get one without a complete stranger staring out from one section or an entrance. I do not think I growled at everyone to get out of my way for the shot above. Depending on the time and disposition of the ‘guards’ posted at each end there is a fee, or no fee. When we were caught in a downpour everyone nearby huddled at an entrance to avoid paying to go further along.

as we widened our walks behind the main walkways we stumbled across this wonderful house sitting rather forlorn, a beautiful remnant of French influence with enough of an Asian twist to have both of us exclaim in delight, “I want this!” We remained for a few minutes of adoration and dreams. It really was close enough to the heavily visited Old Town to seriously consider for anyone with the money and time to turn it into a boutique hotel.

Evening brought a different vibe. This is when the area becomes very crowded, vendors are out in full force, a wonderful market with all sorts of delicious food and fabulous goods open their stalls and everyone is in a great mood. We ate too much. We joined many others posing with stunning lanterns – my daughter was quite swift at ducking in, angling for a shot, then bowing out with one of her winning smiles. Red lanterns are strung above, beautifully crafted lanterns in all sorts of designs and patterns are lit up to entice buyers, lanterns to drop in the river as prayers to dearly departed, or the gods, are sold left, right and centre. I am quite sure this is not great for the environment. It did cross my mind there are most likely people who drag the soggy remnants out at the end of the nightly revelling. Happy, easy revelling. People may have been a little drunk but never belligerent. A place for families, single people, couples, old and young.

We mainly took it easy for the five days in Hoi An. I had a pedicure. My daughter had her hair coloured and cut. We even made it to the beach. I walked – 40 minutes of insanity in the heat. My daughter sent me a message to say she was taking a TA I and would meet me. I was nearly there by the time she showed up. We seemed to have hit a time when a storm was brewing. This meant absolutely no swimming. However, all the many, many ocean facing restaurants and bars had great seating for viewing the waves, sand and anyone silly enough to get too close to the water. (The two photos show just how close I came to being swept off my feet by an exuberant wave) Dare to sit down and a lifeguard was immediately there to chase you away. Our day wandered into lunch, some cocktails (I drank water), reading and relaxing. The storm did not arrive.

It was soon our last night, time to pack our bags before heading out on a four day Motorbike Tour into my guide’s home country. He had rather happily cancelled a trip from Hanoi, in the north, to Hoi An when I had first suggested a second tour. His home is about a 30 minute drive to the country – he had time to go home for a few days before our tour. I was looking forward to discovering more of this wonderful, diverse, beautiful, small country.

Nanjing

This portion of my trip was the first of a few very difficult ones to write about. I anguished over how to provide adequate words for why I was there and where I visited. To assist me I recorded snips to remind me of the immediate impact of the heartwrenching Museum of the Nanjing Massacre. Despite having a very firm grasp of the history of that era, particularly the horrid attacks by the Japanese on Nanjing, Shanghai and the surrounding areas, I was not prepared. Which brought me up short when I finally sat down to write.

I finally decided to keep my visit to Nanjing in chronological order, it made no sense to jump back and forth even though the museum is what stood out. My whole visit to Nanjing in one ugly lump. As with my visit to Suzhou, it was one of the reasons I decided to return to Nanjing. However, I shall begin with my departure from Suzhou and my arrival in Nanjing – another early morning and a hunt for my hostel. I was beginning to think this would plague me with each new city in China and Vietnam.

Despite all the problems with not knowing if I was legally staying at a now un-named Hostel in Suzhou I actually slept and was up by 5:30. Unfortunately, due to the nature of backpacking and the lack of hot water I did not have a shower. Coupled with wearing the same outerwear as the previous day I felt yucky from the start of my day. Bleh. Then as if that were not enough, for good measure, I bashed my head with my coffee press that I had finally managed to pack in its usual top pocket of my bag. So, there was no knowing if my feelings of further bleh were a result of the head bash, no shower, or carrying everything about to taxi, station and train, or all of the above. Wheels were beginning to look like an excellent alternative to a backpack by the time I was on the train.

My first stop once I arrived at the train station – as usual far too early – was to head for whichever fast food place I could find. This time it was KFC, where I ordered a large coffee and watched the day unfold below me. Like watching Geand Central Station in fast motion. (I have only seen this on film) Then it was my turn to join the madness, coffee unfinished. I never like this part of travelling by train in China. A mad dash for the gates, stuff your ticket in, yet another mad dash up, down, over (depending on which train) and find the right car. I still have not figured out how to tell where I am supposed to go despite the colour coding on the platform – the board inside is, of course, in Chinese so I never know the colour I should head for.  Once in my seat I relax. Until my arrival.

Another short train trip, another early morning, another bad taxi driver, and I was very hungry. (One day I need to tell the tale of the driver from hell in Shanghai.) It was easy to get a taxi, not so easy showing him the address – written in Chinese – with the phone number and GPS. When I discovered later that the area is a major spot for tourists all I could do was wonder why some people choose to be taxi drivers. Once he had figured out where I was going he kept muttering to himself – this seems to be something drivers must learn at taxi school – and asking me where the place was, or possibly he meant did I, the foreign visitor, recognize it or see it – this is another common query from drivers. Once we did arrive I was nearly thrown out the door after paying the 22.00CNY in exact change; a demand for extra money was made with all sorts of gestures as to why, along with the driver insisting I hurry up. The result was I dropped my money, which slowed down the process even more, all the while he was yelling st me. I hoped I had not lost 100CNY! If he had not been in such an angry rush our transaction would have gone more smoothly as well as much faster. It was not until the following day that I found out there is a 2.00CNY surcharge.

the hostel kitty – he did not seem too pleased to share his space with a dog and a rabbit.

I was so happy my hostel was just across the street from where I was dropped off – until I was informed there was no power, which also meant no internet, for the whole block. It was not expected to be on until mid afternoon. By this time I was more than a little shaky, and in dire need of food. Although I had not intended to break into my emergency granola bars I was happy I had taken the foresight to buy them before leaving Canada for moments like these. Fortunately my bags could be left in a secured room on the main floor. I was not favouring the idea of climbing to the 4th floor with them! I headed out in search of food and happily discovered a restaurant two doors down that serves food already prepared – breakfast often being a rushed meal – prior to the power being cut. I made my selections, grabbed a set of chopsticks, and headed back to the hostel where I could make coffee – thermoses of hot water are still a major item found in hotels and restaurants in China – to add to my picnic on the large deck. Coffee, breakfast and a book – I was happily unplugged for several hours.

Naturally, after I did finally have a bunk to call my own, I was also ready to explore. My first stop was to the Fuzimiao (Confucian Temple) down the street. I rather liked the apples and ribbons hung on trees by couples – either for good luck or progeny, probably the latter considering the importance of family according to Confucius. No clear explanation as to how Confucius (b. 551 BCE) would be where many Chinese choose to show their devotion. However, his philosophy on moral standards and filial piety were, and remain, the base of Chinese culture. I have always wondered why temples were built to venerate Confucius – temples were generally erected for religious reasons. Confucius never considered himself a god, not even a messenger of God. I spent some time making friends with the few Temple cats sunning themselves. I also had to don my sunglasses to hide my tears for Mozzy. (This would happen pretty well every time I visited a place that also had cats in residence)

I could not resist this very cranky looking kitty with his brush and stand – not that I was going to try to pet him!

After the truncated visit to the temple I visited Nanjing’s very busy, pedestrians only, Fuzimiao (Confucian Temple) Street and surrounding area where the hostel is handily located. In addition to the Confucian Temple and the Imperial Examination Hall there is a lot to see. I did not make it to the latter – too worn out. In hindsight I wondered just how much I missed of the Confucian Temple though, the time I was there, and what I saw, certainly did not cover what I have since read about it. (The Temple and site were undergoing extensive renovations which did explain why some areas were not accessible) Next time I visit a place I will have to be better prepared! I The various wares and food did not draw my attention nearly as much as what I consider a new trend – mainly with young men – tattoos. A cross on the throat of one young man, others with various neck tattoos. Young women seem to keep their inkings to shoulder blades or arms – perhaps easier to cover up or be discreet. I blame my lack of enthusiasm for trying out the many delectable selections to the morning head bash, no electricity and a cranky driver. My mantra at the end of each day was rapidly becoming – I was worn out! I was in my bunk by 8:00pm.

This funny fellow seemed to belong to a wax museum.

My plan for the following day was to visit the Museum to the Massacre of Nanjing. Even two months on I remain unable to adequately put into words what I felt and saw. This became palpable throughout my trip each time I visited a recent (20th Century) historic site of conflict.

I did not take any photos from inside. However, the monuments and statues outside tell the story far better than I can.

What I first saw once inside, formally called The Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invader, was a mass grave, with many of the skeletons laid out relatively straight. It was an eerie sight; who took the time? It is important to know that the anthropologists, the forensic scientists, anyone involved with the discovery of this mass grave, pulled no punches when describing the atrocities against these victims – they were all brutally murdered. I wish I had known the importance of the flags the majority of the visitors were carrying, and just how much the tragedy of the massacres (as with earlier and, sadly, later mass ‘war losses’, worldwide, I doubt there is no knowing how many more mass graves remain undiscovered) to this day has an affect on the citizens of Nanjing as well as the whole country. As we solemnly passed by, and around the grave site, then – in mute harmony – matched numbers to photographs, visitors left a flag next to a name, a picture, a story, a memory.

A question came to mind while a few visitors were taking photos of the bared bones. (As visitors came closer to the exit they appeared to lose the shroud of quiet respect with a need for the air of modernity – death, particularly of such magnitude – is easier to leave behind from behind a lens). I should remark here that 10,000 bodies are not under scrutiny at the memorial, I did not make a note of how many – one being too many when considering why they are there – skeletons are displayed at the memorial, although I think fewer than 150 based on the numbers laid beside each remains. The question was were we, who are visiting, collectively guilty of ghoulishness, or was it an attempt to keep the memory, or a reminder to never let it happen again? Not that it has not happened since.

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It seems nearly an insult to write of the more pleasant visit I made to the city wall of Nanjing. Similar to the Great Wall outside of Beijing, and across the country, the ancient cities of China had fortifications built to keep enemies out. Nanjing, as well as Xi’an, had built a wall to surround the city. For a fee, senior discount for me, it is possible to climb the stairs to the top of the wall and go for a very pleasant walk. The sections that are open to the public stretch to six kilometres – I walked only 3. It is also much easier than the often arduous climbing of the sections of the Great Wall. I spent a couple of hours walking, taking in the view of the city on one side and a park on the other. Birds chirping, a slight breeze, and trees shimmering below were a balm after the museum. As this was a Sunday there were people cycling, walking, classical singing, tai chi, playing instruments were only some of what I heard and saw A photo shoot was happening on the wall – how the woman managed to climb the stairs in the long, flowing gown, was beyond me. I have noticed that women often carry, or have them carried, a pair of heels when heading to have photos done. Once again I was not sure if this was an wedding party or a fashion shoot. This time the dress was red – making it even more difficult to figure out. Unfortunately, by the time the Japanese attacked Nanjing on Dec. 13, 1937, the wall was useless against the bombings. It made me wonder if the Japanese were laughing at the ancient fortifications once considered strong enough to push back any invading army.

the inscriptions in the bricks are many, many centuries old, with some dating back to when the wall was first built. Although some histories say it was the builders who wrote them that seems unlikely as they were labourers and unlikely to have had any formal education.

After walking down from the wall I walked about 100metres before encountering the strangest sight – people had crossed over the low fence across from the lake and were kicking the trees before stooping down to gather up whatever had fallen to the ground. There were gingko trees and some trees I did not recognize which seemed to indicate this was a rather nifty, relieve your stress at the same time, way to harvest the fruit that would otherwise just fall and rot. It was quite funny to first hear the whack, whack of foot against trunk and more so when I saw it! Life carries on.

This lovely tearoom was built within the Nanjing Wall during extensive renovations during which time some internal modifications were necessary in order to keep the exterior as close to its original look as possible. I chose a less expensive repast.

Paradise Cave: Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Paradise Cave was discovered in 2005, and have now taken over in popularity the better known Phong Nha Caves that are announced by a huge sign on one of the hills outside the town of Phong Nha. The latter caves can only be reached by boat then walking to the caves so we opted for Paradise. Which was just as well as we discovered later, which also explained why Paradise seemed to be suddenly getting crowded at one point, the Phong Nha Caves were closed due to high water. It took four years for experts to fully explore over the next four years before opening to the public –  31 km long, the largest dry cave in the world, we only explored the ‘easier’, monstrously large, dry section. 100 metres at its highest point and up to 150 metres wide. The boardwalk inside this section of the cave, once down the steep, steep stairs, is an impressive one and 1/4km long that provides many wonderful views of the various formations one would expect in a cave. The more intrepid can choose to stop at – before or after – one of the more challenging sections for dark caving (no thank you), wading in water through a cave, rafting, (I think that is what they meant when our guides were telling us about the activities) and cave climbing. There is also the very carefully protected cave in which only 300, carefully vetted, visitors per year are allowed to explore. This particular cave, Hang Son Doong, could fit an entire Manhattan city block insid and takes a week to explore! Like I said, we chose paradise (need I suggest, over Hell?)


These reminded me of ancient blades melded together over time.


My only fear was having one of these fall on us!

Readers may note I say we versus me, I was on a four day motorcycle tour with my youngest daughter. She ended up not being a happy camper during the significantly long uphill, switchback trek to the mouth of the cave. (Rather than tell me she was hungover she just complained – most likely because I would not have felt a bit sorry for her. The blisters on her feet however were another issue) It took me 45 minutes to an hour to the mouth, she took longer.

There were maybe 3-4 places with coloured lights; my preference would be none. (In and around Guilin, China, also known for its caves, lighting is a garish art form

Once there we had to climb down a short set of steps, enter the somewhat narrow mouth to the cave, adjust our eyes, then be wowed by the spectacular, disorienting view, in the eerie darkness. Plus the stairs. The steep stairs. Wooden, vertigo inducing stairs. I had a few moments when I did not think my equilibrium would balance on time to go forward or back. Fortunately my brain and feet worked in unison and I sallied forth. My daughter was somewhere behind me taking pictures and finally enjoying herself despite the muttering of ‘I’ve seen caves, why am I here’ that were audible enough for me to hear until I was further away – I never did remind her that sound carries. I focussed on being awed by the natural, internal world. White walls, cathedral surmounting ceiling, a couple of degrees cooler than outside, naturally formed, marbled statues that outclass even the most perfect of all statues – which is of course up to debate. I was happy to note this cave is tastefully lit, just enough light to not trip over your feet. We were also there, until as noted, more visitors were arriving, when it was relatively quiet. At one point it felt as though we were the sole inhabitants of a lost underworld. 

Although called a dry cave there was water on many of the surfaces. I did wonder where it came from.
This was like time had suddenly stood still in mid bubble.

Photos cannot do justice to the magnificence of huge spaces unless taken from above, and, although I took a few pictures from the top of the stairs’ the feel for the space – I never felt I was literally under millions of tons of rock, well not until now – cannot be depicted unless perhaps a drone (heaven forbid) were to be used. I hope I managed, with help from my daughter who has a much better eye for photo ops than I, to find enough shots for others to enjoy. 

This was the end for us although my daughter thought the sleeping guard gave us the opportunity to slip over the guardrail. I did read later that it is possible to explore further with a guide. The fact a guide is necessary made me happy to turn back.

Wedding Wednesday

I managed to get a few of these two who did appear to newly wed. Or just about to be.
Someone needs to tell her it is supposed to be a happy day!
It seems that my daughter said yes to the dress recently. She found it at a pop up wedding dress sale. Upon receiving one exclamation from a friend s explained it something along these lines: I could not help it, it fell off the hangar and leapt into my heart. Although I may have the exact wording wrong it certainly describes just how important the selection of a wedding dress can be. I remember when her younger sister and I were dress shopping, now over nine years ago, we both thought we would no be overtaken by emotion simply because we were not wired that way. Then she came out wearing one dress in particular and I had tears. She was s little teary also. As it turned out she did not buy that dress after deciding it would only suit one venue, which had been knocked out of the running. So, like her older sister now, we headed for a trunk sale and found the perfect dress, one that she had first found, tried on, and fallen head over heels in love with. Except it was the first dress and who buys the first one?

I never could decide if this was just a photo shoot with models or an actual wedding shoot.

For now I only have pictures because I am in China, my daughter is in Ontario, and I go home to British Columbia. A dress shopping date in Toronto was set for January that we will still keep. After all, there are accessories, and i still need a dress. Or, although not Chinese, perhaps my daughter can have two dresses! Her sister did, one for the wedding and dinner, then a fun little purple dress for heading out for a night of dancing.

Try as I could I was not able to capture her white sneakers.

Meanwhile, I did find some interesting dresses on the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam and Yangshuo, China. I hope to add more next Wednesday!