The dentist said sugar would ruin your smile…
…but we encountered the most beautiful smile because of it.
As we sat at a cafe eating breakfast alongside a picturesque little creek in Yangshuo- my gaze came upon an old Chinese woman with a basket full of goods that she was selling on the street. As our eyes met she slowly moved towards our table and our immediate response, like so many times throughout Asia– was "no, thank you.l" The old woman then gestured towards my packet of sugar- but I hadn’t yet used it for my coffee and tried to communicate why I wasn’t able to give it to her. As she nodded she very gently touched my shoulder and then "woddled" down the cobbled street determined to seel her treasures. I though- right, thats it- we are finding this wonderful old woman with the most kind eyes a BIG ol’ bag of sugar. After 4 stores later (apprently sugar is hard to come by, that or we are rubbish at explaining what we wanted) We beamed with excitement as we ran up and down the street with our sugar looking for the lil’ old woman. And suddenly– there she was. I handed off the present to her and she enquisitively looked it over- I know instandly that she wasn’t certain of what it was. She quickly dropped her basked along side a guesthouse and we peaked in as we wathced her show the bag of sugar to the owner. The old woman clasped her hands together in delight and came back outside with the most beautiful smile of gratitude we have ever seen. She hugged us bouth- we of course took a picture to remember the moment and carried on with such happieness in our hearts that such a small gift could make someones world.
Sunday— 10/14…… Its hard to believe that such a short 17 hour journey from Hanoi, Vietnam can bring you into a whole new world. Alright- so 17 hours isn’t necissarily a hop, skip and jump– but it sure makes every last grueling second of our transport stine worth it. With a slight chill to the riverside breeze, Ray and I are srruounded by limestone mountains that are all competing for the blue sky. We are perfectly placed in a small town called Yangshuo- which seems millions of miles away from the sea of motorbikes and their deafening horns.
China. We are in China. It seems too bizarre to even us. I can’t help but shake my head in amazement how far we have come since we arrived in Bangkok just over 4 weeks ago. An incredible feat that we can only feel "bragging rights" are finally ours.
With the short 10 hour journey to Hong Kong on Tuesday- its all kdown hill from here.
Ahem… or so we thought. But that will be a story for Ray to tell- as he is much better at the "dramatics."
But there are a few bits I don’t want to leave out– some of the best bits so far.
I left the last blog with crazy anticipation for our Halong Bay cruise. And there was every reason to be…. from the top of those eery mystical mountains, down to the depths of that emerald green sea- we couldn’t eat up the beatufy fast enough. Well, that or all the many courses of food they put in front of us…..
And I know what you’re thinking. But "no thank you" to food isn’t an option when your "The Wyatt’s." But I am happy to report we didn’t sink our kayak with the gobs of seafood in our bellies weighing us down… and we were still abel to keep a float whilst swimming off of the hidden beach on one of the thousands of inlets in the bay- AND we were even able to suck in our stomachs long enough to squeeze through the caves…. However, the bike ride across the rice paddies did prove near disaster as my new tetering weight wasn’t working with the gradients of the hills. Never the less, my curiousity won over my "food baby-tastic" tummy as I wanted to get as close as possible to seeing the Vietnamese at work in their fields and really understand how all this "rice buisness" worked. Espeically as I have had it for just about EVERY meal since we arrived in Asia….
Although I must admit that my first insticnt as Ray took his hand at beating the rice bundles to release the rice seed was "surly there must be a machine that can do this!?!?" Huh…
But it was such a unique and out of this world adventure– and I truly believe that the pictures can do most of the talking on this one– From the wather to the wonderful mix of people on our "junk"- we had it made. The "luck o the Wyatts" prevailed. One again.
We finished off ourVietnamese stay back in Hanoi- where we raced around buying up all the "fakes" we could. Ray Ban sunglasses….. North Face bags…. billabong t-shirts…. this was our last chance for "el cheapo" treasures. (and as I write this now– I only WISH I knew how good we had it $$-wise…. ho hum.)
Alright- onward to China…. Lets jump back into Yangshuo- our "just what the doctor ordered" after the overwhelming city of Hanoi. Candy coated and laced with restaurants of all clavors, stores of all colors and a scenic backgroud that I found myself sighing about everytime we stepped out of our hostal.
It is undoubtly one of the most enjoyable experiences we have had yet IN the most SENSTATIONAL of environments. And– yah yah yah- I know you have heard it all before- but I am sure that our wonderful converstations and nights spent with new found friends Claire and James at our "same time- same place" nightly happy hour local was the magic touch. And also they were both my saving grace in days to come…….
** Sidenote…. Ahem, dream job alert!! Claire does marketing for HEINZ KETCHUP…. Um, talk about the PERKS!?!? I almost spat out my drink when she told me what she did… oh you should have seen the look on my face!! HA! Those of you that know my "love o’ ketchup" can only truly understand this one.
And finally our 30 KM bike ride through small Chinese villages around Yanhshuo and inbetween "green screen" like backdrops– this was the experience of a lifetime. The things we saw… OH man that bike ride was TOP NOTCH. Check out the picts on THAT ONE!
And almost all proof lost– just like that as 10 minutes into our 10 hour overnight bus ride to HK my stomach dropped and I frantically looked through every bag at least 4 times to find my most PRIZED posession gone. (besides Ray, of course) My camera.
For I had left it just 30 minutes before at the internet place. Devestation isn’t even anything close to what I was feeling– I could hardly swallow as the lump in my throat continuted to grow as my anger for my carelessness tookover.
I can honestly (and embarrsingly) admit that I laid there on that bus trying to mentally transfer my camera back into my purse. Wow…. I was desperate.
But that "to be continued" will have to wait….
Because HEEEEEEEEEEEEERES RAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!
I can’t believe she is forcing me to write this RIGHT NOW – working on NO more then 3 horus of sleep in the past 2 days I struggle to keep my eyes open let alone hold a pen, and even attempt to be witty- more about where we are right now later. Travelling in China is expensive and after our not so fun 17 hour bus ride in Vietnam we decided on a "sleeper bus" (notice those quote marks?!) a total of about $52, now considering it cost us $38 to travel the entire length of Vietnam you can see what we think is expensive. There were 6 westerners on the bus, everyone else was Chinese- interstingly enough ALL 6 of us were in the back row- a few minutes into the ride it was easy to see why. The bus was so bumpy that for 10 horus we were bounced around like kids on a bouncy castle. It was like trying to sleep in a cement mixer. And if you were lukcy enough to dose off you were soon woken’ by your head hitting the ceiling or your ribcage smashing against the railing.
We arrived in Schenzhen at around 7:30 am and it was our task to find the train station, easier said then done. It turns out that the bus station we arrived at wasn’t the one we thought it would be, nor was it in the Lonely Planet book- to add to the frustration no one could tell us where we were and NO ON could speak English. (even the toursit office was any empty room!)
***Side note from Lysser’….. China was probably one of the hardest countries to communicate with others in. Most didn’t know English– AND if you did try to point out a phrase in Chinese in your book– they would speak BACK to you in Chinese…errrr? So we pretty much were at a loss…. and all on our own.
Back to Ray….
Long story short we finally ended up on a local bus for 45 minutes to the train station. Getting in to Hong Kong proved to ba a LOT harder than we thought and a LOT harder than getting into China, if you can believe it!
Thanks to Jen Marshall ( HI JEN!) we had a hook up and a halffor the night with one of her friends that lived in the city, Jora (HI JORA!) and this was fantastic because 1- Hong Kong is extremely expensive ($50 for a hostal) and 2- it is surprisingly unwelcoming to backpackers- case and point it took us 1/2 hour to find somewhere with an internet and even then we had to buy a $4 coffee to use it. So having a place to stay was a BLESSING. After a transer, a long hike and a trip on the worlds LARGEST travelator/escalator-( 800 meters!!) we finally made it to Jora’s place. An amazing apartment on the 10th floor with huge windows looking out over Hong Kongs island– wow.. See photos!
Needless to say I (Ray) needed a good hose down after carrying a 44 lb pack plus small pack for 4 hours (not to mention ample whining about my neck aching- Alyssa say’s I am too old for travel!) But soon we were poudning the pavement in search of the elusive internet cafe so we could start the detective work on finding Alyssa’s camera….
Alright– its me, Alyssa… I am back…. SO….. member’ my Heinz friend Claire (okay, I just can’t get over the "Fate" on that one.. hee!) and her boyfriend James I spoke about earlier from Yanshuo? Well…. it just so seems that they were going to be arriving Hong Kong the day after us. AND… it just so happens that when I finally found a bloody internet in Hong Kong I frantically sent them an "emergency email" IN HOPESthat they would check it and IN HOPES that they would have enough time to run to the cafe in Yanshuo where I had ultimately met my doom and forgot it…. Well, what d’ya know…. Checked it an hour later and in the subject line on the email read: Emergency over– we have found your camera!
Wow…. lets just say Hong Kong hasn’t seen a celebatory dance ANYTHING like this! I was over zeee’ moon. Can you even believe it? The next day we met them at their hostal and there, in their hands was my camera…..BRILLIANT. How very very very lucky we were to have met them. And how wonderful it was for them to go OUT of their way for us. Thanks again Claire and James! You are legends!
Back to Ray Ray…..
Hong Kong (from what we saw) is in my opinoun very much like New York. This is the most westerners (and americans, for that matter) I have seen in a long time- A whole lot of Gucci, Prada, Yves Saint Laurent and all of the other contenders floating around, typically mized with cell phones, laptops, high heels and a certain attitude and "personaly bubble" much like many other big cities, but on the flip side you are greeted with little alleys and backstreets filled with food stalls, fish markets and a colorful and vibrant sights ( like backstreet SoHo in London).
I wish we had a log longer in explore the city more as it is hard to get a true and honest opinoun in just 1 1/2 days. The couple of hours spend waiting for Jora to get home on Wednesday were great- and well needed. Sitting on a sofa and watching a movie is one of those small luzuries which is missed whilst travelling. Jora got in at around 7 , they work LONG days there in HK and what a great person she tunred out to be. Bubbly, welcoming and open… we couldn’t have asked for a better host.
Back to me, Lysser’….. Yes, I totally agree with you Ray– Thanks again Jen for introducing us to Jora… and thanks again Jora for beingso fanastic. Can’t wait to meet you again on the flip side! Safe journey home…. and see you so soon!!
Alright…. so that leaves me right here right now at this computer in Darwin Australia. Its the Saturday the 20th… and we made it. I must admit– it wasn’t the "kissing the ground-rolling around in the soil– jumping up and down" moment I had hoped for when getting here…. But after 3 countries (China, Hong Kong, Singapore) in 4 days…. we were a mess. I am surprised we were even able to put one foot in front of the other…. Lack of sleep, really. We had to sleep at the Singapore airport on Wednesday night– and then tried our very best to explore "Jode-town" or Singapore all day on Thursday (lets just sume up Singapore in one sentense, shall we? Lots of’ Malls– very clean… and then some more Malls.)
And then got into Australia at about 4:30am on Friday morning. Spent… completely spent. Then we were hit with a pretty big surprise– almost straight away. What happened to our affordable beloved Australia? ZOINKS! Its got expensive– and in a bad way. Our bedroom at the hostal in Darwin cost $65….. a beer is about $5…. lunch is about $18….. its hurrendous. Ray was in culture shock— and I just kept trying to utter "soothing words" of its alllll going to be okay….. Ahh… we can make it work– its just going to take FINALLY having to force ourselves to keep to a daily budget, all. We figure we can do a daily budget for the both of us for about $125…. sounds like a lot, you think? Not when even a campsite cost $25 for the night…. we now have to think about petrol again as we have hired a car to do the almost 5000 KM down to Perth…. then you have food– entertainment– and if you want to get into even a state park its going to cost ya’ $16 buckaroooo’s each. Its going to be tight…. but we will make it work.
No worries…. OH HOW I MISS THIER LAID BACK FABULOUSNESS!!
After 11 hours of sleep last night… we are now ready to get a little giddy…. we are back in the country that brought us together. Can anything be better?
So I must sign off so we can get started on our adventure in the land down unda’…..
SUPER QUICK– just want to say how fabulous it was to talk to Kristy and my girls on her wedding day… I was shaking I was so excited. You have no idea how grateful I was to hear all your beautiful voices… I miss you dearly!!
As for email…. because its so very very expensive– (and I was so very spoiled with Asia and how easy it was to stay connected) I am going to have to take a break from hotmail for a while…. Although I will still be checking it– it may take a weee’ bit longer for me to reply back. So still write with all your updates… You know I love hearing about them all!
And as for you Ms. Sarah Antosh….. I can hardly believe that its mere DAYS now before I see the likes if you and and Mike. I can hardly stand it….. I will be in touch with what date we will be there to crash your pad. SEE YOU SOOOOOOOO SOON GIRL!!!
Take care of all of you— I will write when I can….
Here goes nothin’…. Australia here we come. Are you ready for us? Not likely.
Love and miss you….
Alyssa and Ray