Electric scooter diaries

To continue with our chronicle of our travels, when we disembarked from our tour boat, we were in Yangshuo, the tourist capital of rural China. Yangshuo is a horrible town with too many tourists and even more hawkers and crooks, so Jeff and I decided we had better get out of dodge, having spent the morning being ripped off by the boating tour agency.

We had made friends on the boat, bonding over our misfortunes, so the four of us fought our way through various hawkers, “tour guides,” and other undesirables, and decided to get out of town as fast as possible. Anna, one of our new friends, made the suggestion that we rent scooters, and in a matter of minutes had everyone on board.

After a few brushes of death involving large trucks, rain, hand-drawn road maps and unmarked roads, we made it to the “highway” outside of town. There were almost no cars, and wonderfully, no hawkers and people yelling, “hello? HELLO? Pretty lady, you come here! You buy this!” It was the first bit of quiet and peace that we had had in a while, and it was lovely. It started to rain shortly after we left town, but it felt wonderful to have the wind in our faces and an abused umbrella over our heads as we whizzed along. We were finally getting a taste of that wonderful feeling of freedom that comes with having no plans or obligations, floating through a foreign land, enjoying the beauty and mystery of a new place.

We don’t have any pictures of us on our scooter, but here are our friends Anna and Gerry:

From China: Moreventures

We went hiking on a mountain outside of town with a huge natural arch at the top.

From China: Moreventures

It was really beautiful and majestic, and it would have been even better without the dozen or so ladies who climb the mountain to coerce hikers into buying things from them. While we are used to an atmosphere of reverence at natural wonders, the Chinese are more into spectacle. Accordingly, while we founding it rude and annoying that people were constantly trying to sell us things when we were trying to appreciate the amazing scenery, they felt they were just doing their jobs, I suppose. Once we got to the very top of the mountain, we were finally able to shake off the hawkers and properly appreciate the view.

From China: Moreventures

We also tried to understand our hand-drawn, not-to-scale map of the area to figure out where to scooter off to next. It was unproductive, so we decided just to wander about and hopefully not run our of power on our bikes.

From China: Moreventures

Once we climbed down the mountain, we ran the gauntlet of the hawker ladies again, and literally got on our bikes and drove away as they were still trying to sell us things. While about 60 percent 80 percent of me was sure I was going to die on that scooter, the other percentage was loving the peace and freedom the bike afforded. We meandered about, and finally took a random highway toward the middle of nowhere. Once out on the road, which didn’t seem to even be on our map, all we passed were farmers and cattle, and the occasional scooter. We eventually stopped in a tiny village where we decided to look for dinner.

From China: Moreventures

The village was barely a block long, and once the road left the village it was no longer paved. It seemed to be a market day, with tents set up along the road filled with meats, vegetables and soon-to-be dead animals. We asked around for a restaurant, and were led to a small room the size of a garage. In fact, it probably was a garage. The woman who ran the place woke up from her nap and took us into the kitchen back of the garage where her stoves and supplies were. She asked us what we wanted to eat, and based on our rather hazy requests made an incredible meal despite her humble facilities. We had such a lovely time there, chatting to her a little as she cooked and just enjoying the company of our new friends that we almost didn’t make it back to Yangshuo in time to return our scooters.

Once our scooters were safely returned, we headed to the bus station to find our way back to Guilin. Just as we were getting into a parking lot that appeared to be filled with buses, we were herded into a bus bound for Guilin by a harried Chinese man. A little sketched out, we got seats and made sure all the Chinese people on the bus were going the same way, paid, and promptly fell asleep.

The afternoon cost us only a few kuai, but I think Jeff and I both agree it was the best part of the trip up to that point.