*This was originally sent as an email, sorry for those of you who already read this.
Since we are in mainland China now, we have discovered that the Communists have a thing against foreign social networking websites. No Facebook, no Youtube, No Ebay and apparently no WordPress which is the site where we post our blogs. I thought you might like a short update on China until we get back to Hong Kong and can post a more detailed account on our blog.
China is an exciting and shocking place to travel. We are right now in a very beautiful part of the country called Yangshuo in Guangxi province. Think of the haystack shaped mountains that you see when you picture Chinese paintings. This is exactly where we are. Those mountains are called the Karst landscape. We haven’t figured out exactly what Karst means yet, but the landscape is incredible. This town is known for its rock climbing and biking. In many ways it reminds us of a Colorado ski town. Except for that in Colorado, you don’t have toothless old ladies come up to you at breakfast and aggressively try to sell you postcards, flowered headbands and whatever else they may be hawking. We have tried saying no politely, we have tried buying a little something and we have even tried being rude. Nothing seems to stop them from their job of selling. And if it’s not the old ladies, it is someone else. Selling is the main business here in China. And yes, most of it is knock offs. We saw an addiron store right next to an addidas store. We have seen more variations of the Nike swish than I can count. We bought a couple of “Kipling” bags from these two girls who were cousins and sealed the deal by speaking in Hebrew to us. They had learned every language of their tourists so they could better sell to them. It worked on us! Yes, we way overpaid.
So, here in Yangshuo we took a bamboo raft trip down the Li River. We visited an 340 year old house from the Qing dynasty where two elderly brothers and their wives still live in the same house their family has lived for 12 generations. They show the tourists around their traditional home and accept donations so that they can keep the house from being torn down. We toured caves and played in the mud baths and hot springs. There was a biking day through small small villages where we had to take a ferry across the river and a tuk tuk ride (basically a motorcycle engine in a small bus frame) to get to market day in a town called Fu li. At the market, we found out that the Chinese really do eat dog. We are all becoming vegetarians and that is all I am going to say about that.
Yesterday we took a side trip to the Longxi rice terraces. These are the pictures that we all saw in our social studies books explaining how farmers must adapt to their environments and these farmers learned how to turn mountains into growing fields. We also saw some Yao woman here who wear the long, long hair and for a fee they will take their hair down and show you how they wrap it up on top of their heads. They only cut their hair twice. Once when they are 18 and once when they are 36. Somehow this must be related to the Jewish tradition of Chai, but how I can’t even imagine.