Yangshuo (or as the locals pronounce it “Yangsou”) is the center of English learning in China. In this small town, there are over a dozen English schools. Several of them are owned by members of Owen Buckland’s family (Owen is the president/owner of our agency). So it is very westernized and everyone speaks at least enough English to communicate the basics (like money and when we want something cold). Even if you want to speak Chinese, most of them want to talk in English since they so rarely get to practice it. There is also plenty of western fare, McDonalds, KFC, and a western grocery with cereal and butter and cheese and stuff like that.
Me, so happy to have found Ronald!

Guilin, the biggest city about an hour and a half away, is credited as being one of the most beautiful cities in China; but I think Yangshuo is prettier. At 8:00 pm, they light up the mountains with huge spotlights from the buildings. It is just so gorgeous to see, and we are surrounded by them. They are just too far away though to really show up on film. The crappy pictures below don’t even begin to express just how amazing the city looks at night. Anyone visiting China should come to Yangshuo. I would love to stay right here. But there is even more to Yangshuo.

A crappy picture of a most amazing sight. It was a great shot too because the full moon was peeking through the illuminated mountains.

Seth wondering, “I wonder if we could climb up to that?”

Answer: Yes. Result: One of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen at the top of the mountain in the park.

Us just in front of the same view, exhausted from the hike.

On the Saturday after we arrived, Patrick, a Floridian employed as a teacher and trainer with Buckland, gave us a tour of the town. One of the main highlights was West Street. West Street shopping is almost as famous as Yangshuo itself. There are hundreds of vendors selling everything from cheap crappy “Chinese” trinkets you would find in the states to rural village hand-made crafts. Any given evening this the place to go see people and find fun. The food ranges from local to American and there are 5 or 6 Italian ice cream vendors. Every 5 or 6 shops you will find what is called a KTV club. These are the Karaoke clubs. They aren’t like the Japanese ones where people get up and sing in front of everyone. These are places where you and your group get a private room with all your own Karaoke equipment. You can still hear the music blaring out of them and they all have bright flashing lights. Looking down West Street is so cool. I just love all the lights and vendors and people. It is really a sight to see.

West Street at Night

There really is a ton to see and do in Yangshuo. We are sad that we will have to leave before getting to see it all. Yangshuo is in a valley surrounded by the beautiful mountains, but the Li river also runs around it. All of the mountains have steps carved into them so they make for a not-too-difficult hike, but still be prepared for a work out. We managed to climb one, but it was kind of spur-of-the-moment so we didn’t take any water with us. We almost died, lol. There are caves and bamboo boats and temples. There is a very nice park with a children’s carnival year-round. In the early morning and cooler evenings, people will gather in the park for various kinds of exercises. We saw a very large group of people doing Tai Chi, but then there was a smaller group of women sword dancing. It was so awesome I wanted to join right in! I told Seth that if I find a sword dancing group at our home city, I am totally joining. We also heard that in the evenings, people will ballroom dance in the park, but we have not had a chance to see it yet.

Women sword-dancing in the park.

All in all, Yangshuo was a great introduction to China. I think we could be very happy living right here. But, alas, Buckland doesn’t have any openings here. But we are really excited to go to our new home. I’m sure it will be amazing too.

A view of the Li River