Friday, July 08, 2011
Yangshuo, part #2
My new favorite place to visit in China is Yangshuo, a quaint little city located beside the Li river with beautiful karst-like mountains embracing the city and jetting up on all sides of the river. Yangshuo is also famous for its Western Street, a touristy walking strip that leads up to the river from the main road. This street has a lot of lovely cafe's that serve both western and Chinese food, both tea AND coffee. On evenings, Shane and I chose our restaurant based on the number of foreigners we saw sitting inside. After dinner, we walked around and looked for other restaurants that had lots of foreigners inside to determine the next day's restaurant of choice.
At this restaurant, we enjoyed some Italian (ish) food, and sat on the balcony, a perfect place for people watching from afar and imaging the conversations about life we could not hear.
(Shane enjoying apple crumble crisp at another cafe where we sat at for four hours one mid-afternoon.)
On that particular day, a nice couple sat beside us as we were wiling away time reading books and surfing the net. When I went to the restroom, the couple started talking to Shane asking him what we were doing in China and where I was teaching. It turns out that the girl who we'll call Ping is also from Hengyang but has studied in the US and now lives in Hong Kong. She and I were both shocked that we should be in Yangshuo at the same time, at the same little cafe, and both have significant ties to little Hengyang. The friendship felt instant, inevitable, and comfortable. Her and her boyfriend, (Valtyr from Iceland) invited Shane and I to meet them that night for dinner.
We met them at the restaurant and relaxed dinner enjoying the atmosphere of the bustling city street beside us and the pleasant conversation before us. Ping and I sometimes reverted to Chinese when we were talking about some life stuff. Shane and Valtyr talked about engineering stuff and computers (I think). We were both truly blessed hanging out with Ping and Valtyr and learning some interesting things about Iceland and Ping's experiences all around the world.
After dinner, we went with them to a little roof-top bar where they introduced us to some European travelers they had met the previous day in Yangshuo. We hung out some more, and Ping and I talked together most of the time. I really think Ping was needing a friend on this day, a friend that was a girl that could just listen to her process some of her thoughts about life and relationships. Was it mere coincidence that we happened to sit beside each other at the cafe on this day? Nah.
Ping joined us the next morning at McDonald's before we headed for Changsha on the sleeper bus.