Saturday, May 23, 2009

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

Day 438

After an English breakfast and reading for a bit I rented a bike. I really hadn't wanted to do this on my own, but it didn't seem like I had much choice.

It wasn't long before I met 2 Spanish girls and one Argentinean girl who were going the same direction. They had a map, I did not, so I tagged along. Our first stop was a butterfly on the side of a mountain. It was very strange. Shortly after this they headed a different way, they had a much longer bike ride planned than I did.

At the next stop on my list I ran into a Dutch couple. I asked them if I could join them and they said that they didn't mind. We explored the 1500-year-old banyan tree together. What a weird attraction. After some pictures with the tree we followed the path around and took off our shoes to walk across a shallow part of the river. We then checked out a rock before heading out.

After a few more kilo's we found Moon Hill. Even from below it was stunning. Neil and I bought cokes but Belen didn't want one. Neil told the woman from the beginning that we wouldn't buy anything else, but she insisted on following us up all 1251 of the steps to the top. The view was just amazing. I had turned bright red from all of the steps though, so I look a little silly in my pictures. This was quite possibly the best view I have had on this entire trip.

By the time we had gotten to the bottom it was time to eat. First we had to get rid of the now irate woman who had followed us up the steps and wanted us to buy something. At the restaurant both Neil and I ordered meals with no tomatoes. My tuna sandwich was all tomato and just about a teaspoon of tuna. Neil’s burger was also covered in tomatoes and not burger at all, just a few cold slices of beef. When we complained the waitress actually yelled at me. She said that tuna was very expensive and that was why there was so little and that this is just the way things were done in the country. Neil was told that they could heat his burger, but that was all. When she walked away we left the money for the drinks we had and just walked away. We went to our bikes quickly but no one followed us.

Just up the street we got some wonderful local food that was much cheaper.

Next up was the Original Cave, or something like that. The Chinese try to rip each other off by copying place names so you don't always know if you are at the right place or not. Neil turned out to be a really good bargainer and got us in for about 200 yuan under the asking price.

After a short mini bus ride we had to change into their sandals, gross, before getting onto a very rickety boat. We had to duck really low to fit in. Luckily we were not on the boat for very long.

The first thing we saw were some pretty amazing stalactites followed by some ancient handprints. Our guide didn't speak English but had the names written down on a piece of paper. Some of them didn't make a whole lot of sense. We walked for quite a way. The guide often pointed out different things, sometimes I couldn't figure out how they got their names. The tour ended with a really pretty waterfall. By now the stranger shoes were giving me blisters and I wasn't looking forward to the walk back.

The real end of the tour was a dip in a mud bath and then in some hot springs. I hadn't planned on swimming so I didn't have my suit and didn't get in.

On the boat ride back, we were joined by some very in-shape and rather attractive Portuguese men. They spoke great English and we chatted a bit. I also lost my balance and fell on one of them. About 10 people then had to squeeze into a van meant for about 5. Luckily the ride was short. I thought that everyone would just ride back together and I was worried about keeping up with everyone on the bike. Somehow I had no problem keeping up with the Dutch couple but the Portuguese guys were so slow that after just a few minutes they were so far behind us that we couldn't see them. It was kinda funny.

When I got back to town and after returning the bike I quickly took a shower. I was famished. I decided to grab some McDonalds. It was there I met two 16-year-old girls who were studying English. Their homework was to have a conversation with a westerner and take notes. Once they had left I headed back to my hotel to sleep, I was exhausted.

1 comment:

Kamiel Verwer said...

Hi there,

China... sounds really good. Did you help those girls with their homework? As I read your post I couldn't help to imagine talking to a real Chinese person as a take-home exercise for US Chinese students, see them flocking to Chinese natives in some Mandarin restaurant chain in Chinatown... far out.

Looks like you're still going strong. I salute you from Mexico D.F. this time, all safe - this afternoon I head to LA.

Hail to traveling!!