Sunday, June 28, 2009

Yangshuo...

Finally, we get to post our pictures from Yangshuo back in May. Our blog was blocked in China so we had to wait until we were back here in the States to post the pictures. We left Shekou early Monday morning and flew to Guilin via Shenzhen. We decided to take the express bus from Shekou to the airport but it still took about an hour to get there. Not as express as we thought. It would have only been half the time by a taxi but the bus was much cheaper.
The flight to Guilin was only about an hour and a half. It was a pretty good flight. Once we got to Guilin we then had a taxi take us to Yangshuo which was about an hour drive. The scenery was beautiful on the drive but nothing like what we were about to see in Yangshuo.
We decided to take the cheap route and stay in a hostel. It was called the West Lily Hotel and for a hostel it was pretty nice. We wished we would have stayed at a regular hotel that had a pool or something for the kids to do during the down time. The rooms were clean and had a/c so for $10.00 a night per room who could complain? We stayed four nights and the total cost for two rooms was $85.00. Not bad.
Posted by Picasa
Our first day we spent just wandering around town. This is the famous West Street in Yangshou. Lots of shopping and bargaining going on here. It was very interesting and fun to see all the little shops. We did some pretty good bargaining here and got a few souvenirs.
Rachel and Jonny playing around with some toys on West Street.
The street just went on and on for blocks with street vendors and shops. There were also some really good restaurants here. We ate at a Wooden Stove Pizza place that was really good, but our favorite place was Seven Heaven Restaurant. We ended up going there several times, as well as, the good old McDonald's. Ronald had a pretty good view from his spot.
Posted by Picasa
The next day we rented bikes and went on a ride through the countryside. We saw some amazing sites. It was rather warm so we ended up buying these Chinese hats. They actually work pretty well to keep the sun of you but they didn't stay on our heads very well. Notice Vika's baby sit on the back of Gavin's bike. It is just a little baby chair strapped to the back of the bike. It worked pretty well. A nice cheap alternative to the expensive baby seats.
You could rent these bamboo boats to float down the river. It's amazing to think that these would really float.
Our little Chinese family. Do you think we stood out a bit? Along the ride we ended up in this little valley of rice fields. We felt like we were right smack dab in the middle of the movie Kung Fu Panda. We ended up calling it "Kung Fu Panda Land". It was interesting to watch the farmers work here. They still use the water buffalo to plow the fields and then we saw a farmer herding a flock of ducks through the rice field. We guessed that the ducks would eat the bugs in the fields. No pesticides used here.
Posted by Picasa

Our little adventure on an Electric Taxi

video
After our bike ride we took a river boat ride on a "bamboo" raft. It wasn't really bamboo but was made the same way. It was made out of large PVC pipes instead. The scenery was amazing. We just wish it was a clearer day for pictures. The pictures just don't really capture the real beauty of it all.
This is a shot of the same mountains and river that are on the 20 Yuan bill. A lady pointed this out to us and let us borrow the money for out picture. We never knew.
After a short electric taxi ride we arrived at the boat ramp. Not really a ramp but more a wall that we jumped off of onto a boat. As we road the taxi the lady that was taking us there had a large oil bottle that we thought was filled with oil. I kept thinking how strange it was that she was carrying this bottle around. When we got to the boats we realized that it was a bottle of gasoline. I guess it was a bring your own gas deal.
Posted by Picasa
The boat ride was about an hour long and was just filled with beautiful scenery.


Posted by Picasa
The next day we decided to take a bus to a park. When we got to the park our blonde girls became the main attraction. One brave little Chinese person came up and asked if they could take a picture of Rachel, Nicole, and Vika. One person turned into a large crowd. They just kept coming to take pictures so the girls spent a few minutes posing on the rock. We should have charged 10 RMB per shot. We could have paid for our excursions for the day.
We got on these rafts and Jonny and Gavin navigated us around this little pond using long bamboo poles.
Nicole posing on a Chinese bridge. Below is a shot of a lady making silk from silk worms. It was pretty interesting to watch. She would soak the cocoons in water then remove the worm. The cocoon then was stretched out and draped over a hoop to dry and then dyed. Amazing to think that such a beautiful fabric is created from the cocoon of a worm.
Posted by Picasa
We just had to do it. They had these authentic costumes that we could dress in to get our picture taken. Gavin look pretty good in a dress don't you think?
The girls really loved the dress up and I even think Jonny enjoyed it a little. He is smiling in this picture.

Posted by Picasa
Next came the picture with the monkeys. These monkeys were so funny. They would just pose with us in the picture like it was no big deal. Vika was a little apprehensive about being so close to them.
There were some pretty cool settings for pictures here. It would be a photographers dream.

Posted by Picasa
We were really hoping to get a good family picture taken here. It was just never a real clear day to capture the beauty of the mountains in the background.


Our last morning we spent down by the river taking pictures. A lady came up and gave Nicole this flower wreath to wear on her head. They had a park along the river that the kids played at. Rachel and Jonny were showing how flexible they were from their many years of gymnastics. Vika ended up getting hit in the head by one of these things. Jonny's leg slipped off and she was fell right into the path of it as it swung back and hit her in the head. It was a very scary moment because we thought she was going to need to go to the hospital with a concussion and we were in the middle of China. We had no idea where to even take her. We ended up going back to the hotel and put ice on it and just watched her for awhile. Fortunately the impact was mostly on her ear which was bleeding and bruised pretty bad. We left for the airport 5 hours early just in case we needed to fly her out quickly. We were very blessed because she was perfectly fine. She had a little headache for awhile.
We had to get a little exercise in so Ariel lead us in some pushups by the river.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 26, 2009

We are finally home...for awhile.



We are here in Utah, finally, and are loving it here. Being away from here for awhile has really made us appreciate it even more and I have come to realize that Utah is the most beautiful place in the world. The mountains, blue sky, clean air, rivers, green trees...it is heaven to us. I tried to find a good picture to post but pictures just can't capture the real beauty of it all.

We left our home in China at 8:00 Sunday morning the 14th of June and 21 hours later arrived in Salt Lake City at 3:00 in the afternoon on Sunday the 14th of June. We were exhausted but were so excited to see Ranell and Mike waiting for us. They drove our suburban to the airport for us so that we could have a car right away. That's the only thing we really own anymore. The kids wanted Mexican food so bad and we promised them that we would stop at Taco Bell on the way home. That's not really Mexican food but good enough.

Jonny and Rachel had camps at BYU the next morning but we still had some errands to run and people to see before we could call it a night. Finally, 28 hours after leaving our beds in China we were able to sleep in a bed here in Utah. It took us a few days to adjust to the time difference. I woke up at 4:00 in the morning and finally around 5:00 decided to just get up and go to Walmart. That was so overwhelming to see all the choices of food and the quantity of it all. After a few days we were adjusted and on normal schedules.

I can't believe the amount of food people eat here. Every time we go out to a restaurant we are amazed at the portions that are served and to think that we used to eat that much. We have never felt so full and it really is not a comfortable feeling but it's nice to be here and enjoy all the American conveniences.

Now that we are able to post things on our blog I need to go back and put all our Guilin pictures up. Sorry it will be out of order but we couldn't put them on in China.

We love being back here and are enjoying every minute of it.