That Time I Went to Yangshuo

August 26, 2012

I didn’t expect to like Yangshuo.

I expected to love it.

Located an hour away from Guilin on the famous Li River, Yangshuo is known for its stunning scenery and laidback, small town atmosphere. Yangshuo is tiny by Chinese standards, but it’s immensely popular among foreign and Chinese tourists alike.

In fact, my guidebook advised I skip over Guilin all together and head straight to Yangshuo. That’s how much everyone loves Yangshuo. Even guidebooks are like, “Guilin, Shmuilin. Nothing to see there. Go to Yangshuo instead.”

The city of Guilin. Obviously, nothing to see here.

Yangshuo was to be my last stop during my three-week-long trip through China.

And I was pretty sure it was going to be my best.

I was even planning the title for the blog post I would write about it before I arrived there. (Yes, I am that nerd.)

Maybe something like:

“Yangshuo: Saving the best for last.”

Or:

“Yangshuo: Love at last sight.”

Or:

“Yangshuo: The Reason Why I Never Left China and Now I’m in Prison for Violating My Visa”

I didn’t end up loving Yangshuo, though.

I can’t even say I liked it that much.

Instead, Yangshuo turned out to be that guy that you meet while you’re online dating.

You know, the guy that you have so much in common with? The guy who looks perfect for you on paper. The guy with the cute glasses and the clever responses to even the stupidest questions and the list of the same favorite books as you. The guy who would never, ever use “LOL” after statements that are TOTALLY NOT FUNNY.

And while you’re sending him flirty little emails, you’re already planning your wedding and all the cute babies you’re going to have together even though you don’t even want babies. (Not that I ever did this. It’s just an analogy, people. Sheez, stop taking everything I say so seriously, okay?)

And then you finally meet the guy, and you’re like, “Meh.  Not so much.”

Yangshuo was that guy for me.

Sorry, Yangshuo. It’s not you. It’s me. And, okay, a little bit you.

Not that Yangshuo and I didn’t have some good times together.

In fact, for the first couple hours that I was in the city, I thought I was in love.

Granted this was mostly because of my lunch. But I’ve fallen in love for lesser reasons, really.

You see, I arrived at my hostel in the late afternoon, long after the hostel’s kitchen had closed. And because my hostel was located a fair bit out of town, and I was desperately hungry, and I was certain I would never make it into town without some kind of sustenance, I begged the waitress to bring me something. She brought me lasagna —  super, duper, cheesy lasagna. And beer. Because you have to wash down all that cheese somehow.

I think I’m in love.

Fortified with cheese and beer, I decided to make the trek into town, where I was greeted instantly by touts trying to sell me bamboo raft rides on the Li River.

Been there, done that.

Reggae bars blared out Bob Marley music at four o’clock in the afternoon, and restaurants advertised wood-fired pizzas and draft beer.

Mmm…. pizza…. and beer.

Tourist trams whizzed through the streets whisking Chinese tourists from their hotels to the town’s main drag.

Vendors were lined up selling everything from scarves to t-shirts with a bizarre collection of Chinese words printed on them. Because nothing says, “I missed you and here’s a little souvenir from my travels” like a t-shirt with the Chinese word for “encephalitis” on it, right?

Yangshuo was a total tourist trap.

And I hated it.

Like, really, really hated it.

Like, I-couldn’t-get-out-of-there-fast-enough hated it.

Which doesn’t even make sense, you guys. Because I am not one of those people who hates tourist traps.

I am one of those people who totally loves tourist traps.

I mean, remember that time I went to the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai, which has to be like the tallest tourist trap in all of China, and I totally loved it? Because there was a roller coaster inside and a history museum full of bewildering displays like this one:

Why, yes, that IS a baby in a barrel. Why do you ask?

Remember that?

And remember the time I went to Harbin for the Snow and Ice Festival? The whole city was like one big frozen tourist trap, and I totally loved it even though I couldn’t feel my face or any of my toes for the entire weekend.

Yay! Harbin! I love it here! So what if I can’t move my face.

Or that time I went on a group tour to the Longsheng Rice Terraces, which was packed full of other tourists on group tours. And I did this:

Seriously, you guys, do I look like a girl who doesn’t like a good tourist trap?

I think not.

But, for some reason, as much as I wanted to like Yangshuo, I didn’t.

I tried to give the city a second chance, though.

On my second day, I ate a huge omelet on the patio of my hostel while staring out at the beautiful limestone peaks.

Not too shabby.

I took a long pleasant walk into town past bright green, rice paddies.

Also, not bad.

I lounged back in a café sipping on a Snickers shake. Which is exactly what it sounds like — a shake made out of Snickers. And it’s amazing.

Yes, I could get used to this.

I then wandered into a small park in the center of town, where children hung off a carousel and a ragtag bunch of musicians played their instruments in a shady corner.

And just as I was about to be won over by Yangshuo, a man ran past me while being chased by two other men. The two men jumped on top of him, beat him to the ground, and repeatedly smashed his face into the concrete sidewalk. It was easily the most violent thing I had ever seen happen in China the entire time I lived there.

After a good five minutes of face smashing, the two men produced handcuffs which lead me to believe they must have been plain clothes policemen. Or gang members. Or random thugs who just liked to beat people up and handcuff them in the park.

Either way, any warm fuzzies I was starting to feel for Yangshuo quickly disappeared.

My last day in Yangshuo, I decided to stay far away from the hustle and bustle (and possible thug smack-downs) of town.

I rented a bike from my hostel and grabbed a map that listed a number of different suggested bike routes – all of them promising beautiful scenery, quaint villages and winding, country roads.

I figured that may be just what I needed so I could finally start loving Yangshuo the way I felt I should be loving it.

I set off on the route that seemed to offer the least opportunities for me to get lost.

And things started off really well.

There was, in fact, lots of beautiful scenery.

And quaint villages.

And lots of winding country roads.

And then as I was starting to open my heart up to Yangshuo, I almost died.

Seriously, you guys, I did.

I mean, I know I’m always saying I almost died. But this time I really almost did. I swear. It’s like Yangshuo didn’t even want me to love it.

You see, I had been riding along one of the winding roads when I spotted a motorbike coming around the bend ahead of me. So I tried to veer out of his way. But then he spotted me and tried to veer out of my way.

But we were both veering in the same direction, so even though we were both trying to get out of each other’s ways, we were only getting even more in each other’s ways.

And the direction we happened to be veering in was in the same direction as a steep drop-off.

I was pretty convinced we were either going to collide into each other or tumble off the side of the hill or both, when he screeched to a violent stop a mere inch or two from my front tire causing his motorbike to fall over.

On top of him.

Which could not have felt very pleasant.

And, while I couldn’t understand the assortment of words he muttered at me, I had a feeling that none of them were complimentary. I also had a feeling he thought that I was the cause of the accident.

Which is, admittedly, a bit possible because, you see, I was kind of on the wrong side of the road when this whole thing happened. But, I’m blaming that on China, really. Because people in China never seemed to care that much about things like the right and wrong sides of the road. So, if anything,  I was just fitting in with the locals, and he was being the weird one for actually following traffic laws.

After squeaking out an apology, I got back on my bike and kept riding even though my entire body was shaking.

I wasn’t really sure what else to do. I was more than a bit worried he would come after me looking for retribution for the damages I had caused his motorbike. Or, worse, come after me seeking out the unique brand of Yangshuo vengeance I had witnessed in the park the day before.

So I just kept riding.

But it was not exactly the peaceful bike ride through the bucolic Chinese countryside I had earlier envisioned. Instead, I just felt scared. Being on my own out in the middle of nowhere didn’t make me feel at peace. It made me feel really vulnerable. If a band of face-smashing street thugs showed up, I’d clearly be easy pickings. And, even though I knew this probably wouldn’t happen, I still couldn’t help feeling scared.

Eventually, I calmed down, turned around and made my way back to the hostel.

After a shower and a nap, I ventured to the hostel dining room, where I ordered the lasagna for dinner.

I knew that Yangshuo and I were not meant to be.

But at least we’d always have the lasagna.

Have you ever gone somewhere expecting to really like it but then you didn’t like it? Like, at all? Where was it?
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I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On August 26, 2012 at 1:11 am paul | walkflypinoy said:

    that gall of that man following traffic rules! bet he isn’t even a native. grew up overseas. surprised that you didn’t like yangshou though. not enough tour guides with banners and megaphones maybe?
    paul | walkflypinoy recently posted..The Anomaly That Is the Filipino Backpacker

    • On August 26, 2012 at 11:04 am Sally said:

      Ha ha. I know! You’d think I’d be able to handle a few tourists, considering every other city I’d been to in China was much bigger and had much more tourists. But for some reason Yangshuo just got to me. Weird.

  2. On August 26, 2012 at 1:17 am penguinlady said:

    Venice. I thought it was going to be lovely and romantic. Well, with 5 cruise ships in port, it was crowded. Not like, “I have to wait 15 minutes to go to the bathroom” crowded, but “I have to wait 15 minutes to cross this one bridge, and there are 4 bridges between me and where I want to go” crowded. There was no space to walk. And it felt like a tourist trap to me. I think we spent 50 euros to have a drink in the square before we left. And I mean, 2 sodas, while sitting listening to a band was 50eu. Tourist. Trap.

    (OK, I did have one great moment there, on a special tour of St Mark’s Basilica there in the square. It was after dark and we got to go where tourists don’t usually get to go. That was magnificent.)

    • On August 26, 2012 at 11:00 am Sally said:

      Yeah, the crowds can get very tiring. It was often the same in China at the big tourist destinations. I’d usually have to plan a lot of alone time in my hostel room after going somewhere I knew would be particularly crowded.

  3. On August 26, 2012 at 1:21 am DebbZ said:

    Yes, it was Vienna. I was so excited to visit Vienna because I’ve heard that the city is very beautiful and artsy. But when I got there, I just didn’t feel anything. Which is quite weird because the city is very artsy but I found it dull and gloomy 🙁
    DebbZ recently posted..Beijing: Favorite Shots of the Forbidden City

  4. On August 26, 2012 at 1:24 am dan said:

    Love your writing. Great style&sense of humor

  5. On August 26, 2012 at 1:28 am cosmoHallitan said:

    I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy your time in Yangshuo. We went and had a great time – one of our best weekends in China! I thought the locals were super friendly and even though they wanted me to buy things, it was a great chance for me to practice my Chinese and they seemed pretty good-natured about things. I loved it so much in fact that I titled my blog post about the town “Aglow in Yangshuo!”(http://ferretingoutthefun.blogspot.com/search/label/Yangshuo)

    Macau was my disappointment. I had built it up in my head as this bastion of Portuguese culture but those parts were few and far between.
    cosmoHallitan recently posted..Cheese and Chocolate with Mr. Willis

    • On August 26, 2012 at 10:58 am Sally said:

      Omigosh, see? I totally wanted an awesome blog post name like “Aglow in Yangshuo.” Alas. Not meant to be, I guess.
      Meanwhile, I absolutely LOVED Macau. I went there directly after Yangshuo and just fell in love with the city. It’s like we’re the photo negatives of each other’s travel preferences.

  6. On August 26, 2012 at 2:44 am James said:

    For me, it was Rome. (I know. Please don’t kill me.) I had been there before and last autumn, when I got there, I just wasn’t feeling it. Maybe it was the feeling that I had to see everything (I was already exhausted from a solid month of traveling through three continents). So I spent the first few days in my hotel room scarfing down pizza and watching tennis on THREE different channels. But it ended well. Of course, if there had been an “encephalitis” t-shirt to snap me out of my Roman funk, that’d have been a whole different story!
    James recently posted..Dollar Days – Shopping in Saigon on the Cheap

    • On August 26, 2012 at 10:56 am Sally said:

      I’ve never been to Rome. But, honestly, sitting in a hotel room, eating pizza sounds awesome. Although, I’d replace watching tennis with something a bit more exciting… like reality TV show watching!

    • On August 30, 2012 at 9:41 am Montecristo Travels said:

      Felt the same – Rome didn’t wow me the way say, Florence did. Florence I LOVED!!!I liked parts of my trip to Rome but was surprised how little I enjoyed. I think it was the crowds. After a month in Tuscanny – Rome was just: too much.

      • On September 3, 2012 at 4:55 pm Sally said:

        Hmmm… interesting. I’ve never been to Rome and never felt much draw to go, but I would love to go to Tuscany or some place more country-side-y.

        • On September 6, 2012 at 8:20 am Montecristo Travels said:

          We used Florence as our home base and did day trips out – super easy on the amazing train system. Pisa, Sienna, St. Giminiano, Livorno and more. Loved it. LOVE. IT.
          Florence is the kind of place that – after all the travelling I have done – I said to myself … damn… I want to live here a while. You can’t let the hours the tourists invade keep you from loving the place. We rented an apartment and saw it when the crazies left. The place is magic. Birthplace of the Renaissance you can’t take 3 steps without something amazing having happened there. Names like Michelangelo, Botticelli, Galileo, the Medici … It packs a serious punch.

    • On September 4, 2012 at 3:13 pm Carmel said:

      I’ll second that. I wasn’t crazy about Rome, either.
      Carmel recently posted..Perfect Flaky Croissants

      • On September 6, 2012 at 8:24 am Montecristo Travels said:

        Glad we were not alone Carmel. We do plan on going back – but it will be 3-4 days no more just to see some of the historical things we missed. But I think just like Paris is not France – Rome is not Italy.

  7. On August 26, 2012 at 3:14 am Edna said:

    Interesting, Nisa over at CookieSound just posted almost the exact same thing about Yangshuo. Shame to hear that — I had friends who went four years ago and it looked beautiful and less touristy then (I was meant to go myself, but then I fractured my foot and had to cancel the plane tickets because I really couldn’t go through Yangshuo on crutches).

    Also, just a friendly fyi…it’s YangshUO. 🙂
    Edna recently posted..Wenlock, or How I learned to stop laughing and love the mascot

  8. On August 26, 2012 at 5:26 am Selly said:

    Strangely enough a trip back to my hometown in Germany made me feel about the same way. My friends and family all talked about a big flower festival for months and asked me time and take again if I would make it over in time to see it all. I knew my hometown had been preparing for this for years (literally, as they were trying to make our city a much greener place, etc) but wenn I got there I got lost boarding the train from the airport to the train station. It was a nightmare trying to find my sister and what with being overtired I didn’t enjoy being dragged around in 30 degrees heat. By the time I got to my hometown I was totally and utterly confused. The entire city looked different and nothing was where it had been. Traffic had changed and some streets were no longer accessible. I suddenly felt lost in the very city I’d grown up in. It felt like that city didn’t want me back.

  9. On August 26, 2012 at 8:41 am Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) said:

    I have actually read another few less than complementary reports on Yangshuo, largely for the tourist trap reason, but sometimes we just don’t mesh well with places we think we will. When I traveled to Europe in 2005, I really did not like Vienna (which I just found cold and really expensive) or Brussels (which I found blah and boring). Here in Japan, I thought I’d get swept away in the uber coolness of Tokyo, but really found myself uninspired by it completely. It was a relief to escape, even though I couldn’t point to a single thing that was wrong with it… then again, I didn’t have lasagna there, so maybe that was it!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Tokyo District Spotlight: Asakusa

    • On August 26, 2012 at 10:47 am Sally said:

      Omigosh, I was totally overwhelmed by Tokyo the first time I went and never wanted to go back. It took me like 9 visits to Tokyo before I got to the point that I actually liked it. So I totally understand.

  10. On August 26, 2012 at 9:04 am Grace said:

    I didn’t like Yangshuo that much either. It’s very beautiful but like you say a tourist trap (in the bad way, like all the uniqueness of the place has largely been lost in favor of making a buck). I also thought it seemed really corrupt, even for China (did you see the swanky retired cadre building? very funny). Maybe that explains the beating you saw?

    The big disappointing visit for me was Athens. I was really excited, thinking about the glorious history and cradle of Western civilization and so on, and was greeted by an ugly concrete modern city covered in smog. A letdown for sure (though the Parthenon is great).

    • On August 26, 2012 at 10:46 am Sally said:

      I didn’t notice the corruptness that much, but then again a lot of that stuff kind of goes over my head due to the language barrier. But I did think the touts were especially aggressive, even for China. At one point this tout accused me of “hating all Chinese people” because I didn’t want to talk to her about taking a bamboo raft ride. Umm, what? Did NOT like.

  11. On August 26, 2012 at 9:38 am Keith said:

    Just like the guy you meet over the internet in a few years you might look back and get a good laugh over it. The best travel stories are the ones where things go wrong.

    I did not enjoy the pyramids at Giza and hopefully one day I can create an interesting lie as to why.

    I enjoyed Yangshou but no near death experiences for me. Some people just have all the luck.
    Keith recently posted..Kicking Back in Dresden

    • On August 26, 2012 at 10:43 am Sally said:

      I usually find the best travel stories are the ones where something goes spectacularly wrong (usually as the result of my being an idiot). As you can imagine, I have a LOT of these stories. I don’t think anything went too “wrong” in Yangshuo (other than the motorbike incident… but, again, I swear this was not my fault… besides, he was on a motorbike. Why was he veering out of MY way? Who does that?) Overall my trip to Yangshuo wasn’t spectacularly bad… just “meh.” So I don’t think I’ll be catapulting it to the category of Awesome Travel Story.

  12. On August 26, 2012 at 10:01 am Tom @ Waegook Tom said:

    The motorbike driver was clearly an out of towner. I mean, who drives on the right side of the road? Freak. Also, I kinda want a t-shirt with the Chinese symbol for encephalitis on it.

    I know what you mean about not falling in love with a place you feel you should love, though. I feel the same about Busan here in Korea. Everyone else loves it except me – and I’ve been several times now. It’s just so….blah. Yes there’s a beach, but it’s crappy and the beach front could be ANYWHERE in the world – just KFC, Dunkin Donuts, Seven Eleven and Mcdonalds on repeat interlaced with some overpriced hotels. I don’t hate it quite as much as I used to, but it’s still a great big “meh” of a destination for me. Ditto Vilnius in Lithuania (but without the beach analogy).
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..Six Unmissable Korean Movies

  13. On August 26, 2012 at 6:35 pm Priya said:

    Wow, China don’t play. That’s really scary… the motorbike thing and the cop-thug thing. I’m freaking out just reading about it. Aww, so I’m guessing no babies with Yangshuo?
    Priya recently posted..Different Topics Of Jainism Crammed Into One Post

  14. On August 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm jan said:

    I would have escaped Yangshuo too. Pity about the over-correcting motorbike rider – otherwise the country side looked great.
    Ninh Binh in Vietnam was my shock dislike. On paper it was wonderful, a perfect place to stay a few days with all the sights we wanted to see spread around it.
    No, No, No! Now I know why everyone else saw these sights on day trips from Hanoi! It was a depressing place, covered in cement dust (nearby cement plant). Not just a little dust – really covered in it. In it’s defence it was late dry season. When the rains came it might have washed it all away – or maybe it would have turned into concrete!
    jan recently posted..Coloured Glass Congress

  15. On August 26, 2012 at 10:04 pm Michelle said:

    Poor dear. Sounds like u have a terrible time at Yangshuo.

    I love Thailand but Chiang Mai was not for me. Somehow the whole party-going animals vibe that are staying at my hostel turns me off. I also comforted myself by ordering a big plate of spaghetti. hehe.

    I wonder why some picture-perfect cities that are raved by so many other travellers, doesnt work out for some individuals.

    • On August 28, 2012 at 10:19 pm Sally said:

      The first time I went to Chiang Mai, I have to say I was pretty unimpressed. A lot of it had to do with my hostel, too. Plus, I was sick. But when I went back and lived there, I really liked it. I think because I was living in an apartment and didn’t have to deal with hostel people. Maybe I should go back to Yangshuo and see if it gets better with time?

  16. On August 27, 2012 at 8:51 am Stephanie - The Travel Chica said:

    The sad thing is it was probably just as wonderful as you expected… before it was listed in every guidebook as the greatest place to visit.

    At least you got a Snickers shake. That sounds amazing!
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Travel the World Through Food

  17. On August 27, 2012 at 10:35 am Phil said:

    Have you considered writing a guidebook yourself? I would love to see an Unbrave Girl Guide to China .. or even Buffalo.
    Phil recently posted..What a Real Party Looks Like

  18. On August 28, 2012 at 2:29 am CeCe said:

    I loved Yangshuo….but maybe I was just delighted to find Western food again (I had the woodfired pizza and it was good), and also meet people that spoke English. During my bike ride I fell into a huge puddle of mud. That was not fun.

    As for places I was hoping to love but didn’t…I would say Spain and Venice.

    • On August 28, 2012 at 10:16 pm Sally said:

      The thing is I LOVE Western Food and people speaking English to me all that time. That’s why I thought I’d totally love Yangshuo. I’m still puzzled as to why I didn’t like it.
      And, you’re like the 4th person to diss Venice. Now I’m thinking I need to go there just to check it out & see if I hate it or love it!

  19. On August 28, 2012 at 6:23 am Melanie said:

    Immediately thought of Hopkins in Belize. Meant to be lovely and chilled local beachy place. In reality, grumpy locals, big dogs barking at us and staying in a hut in a swamp.

    PS – You’re a brilliant travel writer. Great blog, this. 🙂

    • On August 28, 2012 at 10:15 pm Sally said:

      I found some of the locals in Yangshuo to be rather grumpy too… especially when you accidentally make them crash their motorbikes. 🙁
      Thanks for stopping by the blog! Glad you enjoyed it!

  20. On August 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm Stephanie said:

    Yep – that place, for me, was China. All of it. Well, not ALL of it exactly, as I only spent 20 days there. But of all the parts of it I saw in those 20 days (Yangshuo included, as well as Xi’an, Shanghai, Beijing and the Three Gorges), none of them thrilled me. I was so excited to go to China – it’s CHINA, for Pete’s sake! – but I was totally underwhelmed by it. Apart from one thing: the Great Wall. That was EPIC.

    • On August 28, 2012 at 10:12 pm Sally said:

      Aww, I’m really sorry to hear that. Overall, I really enjoyed most of the places I visited in China. I think Yangshou was the only place that I was like, “Mmm, not so much.”

      • On August 29, 2012 at 5:30 am Stephanie said:

        I know, rubbish huh? I’ve vowed to go back one day and try to reassess. How did you travel round China, out if interest? Did you do it independently?

        • On September 3, 2012 at 4:58 pm Sally said:

          Yep, independently. I did take a couple trips with friends but I didn’t really do any tours or anything like that… aside from a few day-long group tours.

  21. On August 30, 2012 at 4:35 am choi kum fook said:

    Everybody has his own interesting,point of view, thought and mind.As the result,somebody like it and somebody don’t like.Don’t expect too much to see or enjoy before you visit a place.Usually, sometime you desire a little bit of thing, an astonishing thing will return to you that over your expecting! On the other hand, you may get litter return if expect too much! From your post and illustrated pictures, as I view, both places, Guilin and Yangshou more or less the same in physical and nature, also within short distanced area, in province of Kwongsi, China. One day, I must pay a visit to those places because my ancestors were in Kwongsi.So I can kill two birds with one stone, visiting my relatives and viewing the most beautiful scenery in the world as Chinese said!Ha!Ha!

  22. On August 30, 2012 at 9:36 am Montecristo Travels said:

    Miami all the way to Key West .

    I absolutely hated Miami… and Key West? Meh. Could not write a blog post about Miami I disliked it so much. Going back in October and hoping that the second chance will do the trick. I want to love it. I really do, dancing to the Latin beats and the beautiful people and the beach but …I just hated it. I found it superficial, transient and “off”. Key West? I found things to like – but I had to dig beneath the pile of tourist crap to find the old Key Wets. The light house, the old homes … It should not be that much work for such a small town. Once was plenty. I preferred the West coast of Florida HANDS DOWN to the East coast. That was a huge surprise. (Note: Diving in Key Largos is very good).

  23. On August 30, 2012 at 12:06 pm Ceri said:

    What a shame, hun. 🙁 Though that really is scary – the face-smashing and near bike colliding! Eek! Glad you’re okay.

    I had a similar experience in Oaxaca City – everyone said it was incredible and that I’d absolutely love it but I never got the appeal. I was really disappointed.
    Ceri recently posted..Happy Birthday, Fy Brawd

  24. On August 31, 2012 at 1:29 am Ross said:

    I’ve been to Yangshuo twice and really liked it, at least I liked exploring the area around Yangshuo. The guide books made Lijiang sound great but I hated it. I like the infrastructure (transportation, places to stay, eat etc.) around the tourist destinations in China. I hate the tourist destinations though. I have to wander off away from the traps and touts and hope I find something interesting. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.
    Ross recently posted..Costa Rica in Black & White

  25. On August 31, 2012 at 10:48 am Charu said:

    I’m so glad you didn’t get hurt…what a crazy story Sally. there are some places that call you RIGHT away (in my case, Aruba and Jordan are a few of them) and some that never click. But you’re a sport for trying to make it work! 🙂

  26. On September 2, 2012 at 4:14 am Krisabele Ricamonte said:

    I feel very pleased, that I have not been to a place that I did not like. Of course, I have favorites, but I think the places I’ve been through have at least one thing I really enjoyed, sometimes it’s the view, the food, the people…there’s always one thing. Then maybe, I should try to cover more ground! I will tell you once I find a place that sent me running to the opposite direction!

  27. On September 5, 2012 at 2:10 am Naomi said:

    I felt the same way about Luang Prabang in Laos. I think because I’d spent so much time in really rural areas of China, Laos and Vietnam for the previous 3 months and then arrived smack bang in a town that was all about tourism, and full of well heeled westerners. I had to force myself to see the sights – which were beautiful, and I did enjoy them – but as soon as I could, I left. For me I think it was a kind of reverse culture shock, I felt so much more comfortable when I was back in rural backwater Laos again.

    • On September 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm Sally said:

      I think my reaction to Yangshuo was the opposite of yours. I had spent most of my time in China in big or mid-sized cities. So when I got to this bucolic little village with no skyscrapers and only a couple streets, I was like, “What? This isn’t China!”

  28. On September 8, 2012 at 1:35 am Dyanne@TravelnLass said:

    Finally coming up for air after a month here in Mongolia – connected again to my beloved digitals, just tuned into my (500+!) blog posts languishing in my Google Reader, and I hafta say…

    Criminy, girl – only THREE measly BG posts in nearly a month???! Shame on you, I expect much more blather from you, young lady!

    But seriously, (as usual) the trio was most entertaining.

    As far as places I expected to like, but didn’t tickle my travel toes a smidge? I try my best not to hold any expectations (pro or con) of a place I’m headed, but…

    I must say, the (allegedly idyllic) Sumatran island of Pulau Weh perched at the tippy-top of Indonesia (I mean, even the NAME “Palau Weh” sounds seriously romantic, no?) proved to be a resounding “meh” for me.

    Not bad, but likewise not anything to write home about. Though the rest of Sumatra (the awesome orangutans at Bukit Lawang and Lake Toba) more than made up for it.
    Dyanne@TravelnLass recently posted..It’s a Mongolian Big Mac Kinda Day

    • On September 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm Sally said:

      Errr, sorry? I know, I know, things have been painfully slow & behind on my blog — but mostly because I’ve been so busy in real life! I hope to be able to update more frequently once things have settled down a bit.
      Sooo… how’s Mongolia?

  29. On September 8, 2012 at 8:55 pm Erik said:

    Wow, what an incredible letdown. Would you go back if you had the chance to find out if this visit was a fluke or was once enough?

    The opposite usually happens with me- I expect to hate places, but end up really liking them. But Vienna, Austria, sticks out in my mind as a place people absolutely raved about that I just didn’t get. It was no where as bad as your experience, however.
    Erik recently posted..Photo of the Day- The Avon River, Christchurch, New Zealand

    • On September 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm Sally said:

      Yeah, I probably would go back if I had the chance — I’d probably like it more once I knew what to expect. Although, I think I would want to go back with friends. I really wanted to do more bike riding, but doing it by myself was too scary.
      Wow, I’m hearing lots of hate for Vienna. Now I’m curious to go just to see if I’d hate it like so many other people!

  30. On March 30, 2013 at 3:01 pm Nata_Moscow said:

    For me, it happened to be Thailand. And oh, I literally had been counting hours until I got out of there (the first time something like that ever happenning to me – and I had been to about 20 countries!)

    I am surprised to see many negative comments about Vienna. Albeit the weather wasn’t very inspiring (it was quite a cold winter) – I still loved it!

    And thanks for your review – I am travelling to Hong Kong in a week and was pondering over possibility to go to Guilin and Yangshuo. But had my doubts since I would be pressed for time and also the weather forecast doesn’t look good either. I think I’ll just leave it for some better times.. ))

  31. On April 11, 2013 at 7:46 am Elina said:

    Hey, just ran across your blog while researching info re Yangshuo since am considering heading into this directon))) Now am a bit confused and intrigued at the same time! Can’t help but share my thoughts 0n the topic – Venice was my greatest disappointment so far – as has been already pointed, the soul of the city is “trodden” with tourists, I failed to feel the “authentic spirit” there. As for Vienna and Austria in general – totally fell in love although did not expect too much, Vienna turned out to become one of the most abundant sources of inspiration for me! If it were not so quiet I’d call it a city of my dreams. )) But you’ve got to love coffee, desserts, baroque, early mornings, Sisi stories, classical music and German accent))

    • On April 11, 2013 at 8:10 am Sally said:

      Well, I do know plenty of people who really LOVED Yanghuo. And I could see why. It just wasn’t the place for me, but it could be the place for you. You never know!

    • On April 30, 2014 at 5:12 am Ellen said:

      I am in Yangshuo. It’s my second time here. I really like it. It is beautiful. And crowded but so is the rest of China. Totally worth seeing. Just ride your bike on the right side of the road.

      • On April 30, 2014 at 1:22 pm Sally said:

        I had heard many great things about Yangshuo & know a lot of people who loved it. For me, though, it just didn’t click. To be honest, I think maybe I was kind of over China or travel or whatever at that point as I’d been traveling non-stop through China and Yangshuo was my last stop. I’d definitely go back if I were in China to give it a second chance.

  32. On February 1, 2014 at 10:41 am sebastien said:

    I love your style of writing, you made me laugh more than once :). My partner and I are planning to go in China in August / Spetember as part of our world trip. I was a bit worried of going in August but after seeing that you were there in August, I am quite reassured. We will be spending 8 weeks in total. Have you been to chengdu area in August as well ? How was it ? It seems this region is quite unlucky when it comes to natural disasters…

    • On February 1, 2014 at 11:28 am Sally said:

      Thanks, Sebastian! I went to Chengdu at the end of June. It was a hot, sweaty, swampy jungle. But pretty much anywhere you go in August/September in China is going to be a hot, sweaty, swampy jungle! People will tell you this is not the case for Kunming, which is supposed to be the city of “Eternal Spring.” But I went there in July, and it was still pretty hot and sweaty. And I wouldn’t worry about the natural disasters — those things only happen every few years, so chances of it happening while you’re there are not so good.
      Have an awesome time! I’m sure you will!

    • On October 29, 2014 at 8:15 pm Pleddie said:

      Sebastian, disaster can happen anywhere and there is no way you can anticipate that, unless you are the disaster. HA! I went to Lijiang in September of 2013. I was planning on hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge. The day before I arrived and two days before my hike, they had a big earthquake in the Gorge. First they closed the Gorge to tourists and shortly after that, they evacuated most of the people in the Gorge. I should also note, there was a lot of rain in that area, which increased the danger of landslides after the quake.

      I firmly believe it is better to go and have to cancel or be disappointed, than not to go. We would never see and experience this wonderful world of ours, if we tried to avoid all the “what ifs.” Often, Mother Nature lets us know that we just think we are in control.

      BTW, I am 77 years old and I toured the Yangshuo area for five days on my month-long trip in China. I was not with a canned tour, but I had an English speaking Tour Guide from Guilin. I liked it so much, I am going back to Yangshuo for four months in 2015, to try to learn “basic” Chinese.

      I can understand the bike scare and the beating would unnerve anyone, but I had a fantastic time in Yangshuo. I tried to avoid the tourist traps and touts, was not into shopping, and ate only Chinese food. I suspect my Tour Guide probably did a lot to help me avoid that. However, I will try the Snicker Soda this time. I have a real affection (or maybe affliction, since it is probably on the DO NOT EAT LIST) for Snickers. They are so good, they surely must qualify for the LIST…

      This is the first time I have tried to participate in a Blog. I hope this gets to you.

      • On October 29, 2014 at 9:00 pm Sally said:

        Hi Pleddie,
        Thank you so much for your comment! What a fantastic attitude you have — you are definitely a true world traveler. I hope you have a great time back in Yangshuo studying Chinese — I hope you do MUCH better at learning Chinese than me (although it wouldn’t take much, honestly). And, YES, definitely try the Snicker shakes. They are AMAZING.

        • On October 30, 2014 at 12:06 am Pleddie said:

          Pleddie Said
          NOTE: This is probably not appropriate for your Blog.

          From what you said, I hope I do better learning Chinese, too. I tried it at our local Community College and gave up. I was so slow, I was holding back the class. I hope to do better with immersion in Yangshuo and without the distractions I have here at home. I checked the Internet and Chinese is stated to be the most difficult language to learn. I also found that at the age of 7, you are at your peak for learning another language. I missed that by 70 years… 🙂

          In my previous input, I forgot to mention that I chose Yangshuo because I thought it was the most beautiful area I visited on my first trip (Beijing, Xi’an, Chengdu, Lijian, Kunming, Yangshuo, and Guangzhou). I am not talking about the city of Yanghuo, but the Karst peaks, Yulong River, Li River, and the Longshen Rice Terraces. I am an amateur photographer and was thrilled. It was in September was great. On my last days in a village in Longshen, it rained quite a bit. We were on the outer limits of a monsoon that hit the southern coast.

          I should also mention that I am so happy that I switched to a digital camera. I could not have afforded the trip if I had to buy film and have it developed. I cam home with about 4,000 pictures. I will also say, it was hard to take a picture that was not beautiful in the Yangshuo area.

      • On November 1, 2014 at 9:06 am sebastien said:

        Hello Pleddie,

        Welcome to the world of blogging. I must say I am very fond of you and what you are doing. I hope I will be able to do the same when I reach your age. Thank you for your answer to my questions. I went to yangshuo in September and it was beautiful. The tiger leaping gorge was a big big highlight of our trip in Yunnan province. Then we finished in Shangri La and it was lovely (evn though the old city has been burnt). You can read about our adventures in China on our blog more particularly about our trek in the tiger leaping gorge. I hope you enjoy your 4 months in China and I wish you the all the best in your travels ! Take care

  33. On October 3, 2015 at 5:35 pm Ken said:

    I have lived and worked in China for nearly 20 years. After living in 10 Chinese provinces and having traveled to many more I have to say that I hated Yangshuo. And I lived there for nearly a full year recently.Yangshuo is easily my least favourite town/city in all of China. So many reasons for this….from all the tourists (both Western and Chinese….to the way the locals treat anyone who is not local. I am so happy to be away from that circus……and if you think you are experiencing “China” in Yangshuo…..well I have news for you……you are not.

    • On October 4, 2015 at 8:48 am Sally said:

      Well, I’m glad to know I wasn’t alone in my feelings for Yangshuo. Although I have issues with the whole what is “China” thing. I can understand the argument — because a city is touristy/built-up/full of foreigners/etc it’s not “real China.” I’ve heard this said a lot about Shanghai and other built up places. But isn’t every place in China, “real China”? It would be like saying New York City isn’t “real America” because there are lots of tourists and no cornfields and you don’t run into grandmas sitting around baking apple pie.

  34. On September 23, 2017 at 10:44 pm Charnette said:

    I’m back in Yangshuo at the moment, well staying outside of Yangshuo in a tiny village actually, but walked to town yesterday. First time I was here I celebrated New Year’s 1994-95 here, and simply loved it! But yesterday, well, I was stunned by what West street is today. My lovely memory of Yangshuo in the 90-s is completely gone! So I can understand your feelings towards the place.

    Thinking back to my firs trip (the time I also visited Yangshuo) I thought I was going to love India, but the moment I set foot in the country I instantly hated it. For no reasons or for all reasons, I don’t know. Just a feeling. There were Pushkar and Hampi, 2 places I really liked, but the rest of it – AWFUL! I was constantly mad, angry, agitated, sweaty, getting groped, and harassed. Well, there was Taj Mahal too, which kind of made it all worth it 😀 But Goa – don’t get me started! 😛

    Lastly I’d like to add – I love your blog! Your writing is so entertaining, and I love your sense of humour. You make me laugh out loud when reading your blog posts – that’s rare, so thank you for that! 🙂 Keep blogging!

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