Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Day 7 – Yangshuo: An unexpected Fool’s Garden

On this day, I woke up early because it was really noisy outside (darn the bird in the cage – if only I knew how to hit at it with a stone from my balcony…), and because I had a very strange nightmare. I dreamt that we were all escaping from a murderer who was slashing off people’s heads, and I had to pretend that I was dead by pulling a scarf around my neck. I must have literally held in my breath when I woke up to Rosabelle’s cry to nurse, phew! Must have been too much action over the past few days…

After that, our girl might actually have slept on for awhile more until there was a rude and urgent loud knocking on our door – I quickly sprang up from my sleep and ran to the door, only to see a chambermaid holding onto a bottle of mineral water. I told her I did not ask for it, and she went, very loudly, ‘不是你要的吗?'. Twice. I had to hold myself in from slamming the door, but the exchange of course woke Rosabelle up already – it was only 8:30am, that bitch. Turns out it was my brother who had asked for the water as those in his room were not replenished – he made sure the reception heard of it when the chambermaid kept insisting she did give him two new bottles of water. Tsk, tsk!

And so I gave Rosabelle breakfast as I quickly changed and packed for the day (and she kept to her good habit of pooing before we left the room!).

We then headed to Yuzi Paradise (literally means 'the stupid one'), situated in Yanshan and founded in 1998. The place was sponsored by a Taiwanese entrepreneur, Rhy-Chang Tsao and according to him, constructing the park was not to pursue profit, but to realize his own dream. Consequently, some people thought that because he was an entrepreneur his action was stupid, hence its name.

Well, this 'stupid' man is probably laughing all the way to the bank now, as each adult entrance ticket costs RMB200, and it houses the most expensive boutique hotel in the area, HOMA. Here, you can appreciate various local and foreign sculptures of distinctive styles and is the only public project of culture and art in China. Maybe because of the high admission costs, but there were very little people around in the huge park, and we had fun looking at interesting-looking scupltures like these...
And even made ourselves at home as part of a whole dining area, haha...
I gave Rosabelle a whole apple to eat as we came down and she was holding onto and finishing it as we walked, but that obviously slowed her down so much I had to keep waiting for her as she took it at a leisurely pace...
We took turns rotating this huge piece of rock a full circle, and I can't really remember the name of the sculpture, but I'd like to aptly name it 石来运转, heh!
There were so many other interesting scupltures to look at, sometimes from afar as they were some distance away and I really couldn't be bothered to hurry Rosabelle over to just grab a shot...
I really love the serenity of the place; the lake is crystal clear and has a mirror reflection - it reminds me of the nice European towns/parks I've been to, maybe because it's clean and doesn't have droves of people...
Our girl was most cooperative in making funny faces for the camera as she stood in front of this Egyptian-themed scuplture.
Even the outer facade of the small museum and shop reminds me of the one we saw in Bern, and our girl was attracted to the small, porcelein pigs at the entrance...
I seriously felt this beat any other mountain/lake background in Guilin, haha!
Then my brother and Boa decided to walk onwards to explore other areas, so Mum and I got to this interesting mass of scupltures depicting alot of children and pets looking/reaching upwards, as Simon and Rosabelle also did their thing, complete with matching expressions; what a hoot!
Our girl decided she wanted to pose with almost every single Ge Ge and Jie Jie around...
We were basically walking around a lake with this lovely scenery...
And they had a wooden playground for Simon to do his monkeying around - even Rosabelle was very brave to venture up and down the steep slopes.
More beautiful scenery, not marred at all by strangers in your photos as there wasn't much people around in the first place.
We then came upon this small area of a cacti garden, where Simon decided to venture a little too far/fast on his own, then started shouting 'Po Po! Po Po!' in a panicky tone, thinking he'd lost us as he could not see us for the masses of cacti blocking his view, haha!
Rosabelle was happy to stand and pose with the thorny fauna...
Then we came to this area with colourful-looking pastel houses (not for stay, of course), and my mum asked Simon, ‘Which house would you choose?’ – before the older kid could answer, Rosabelle said, ‘I choose… green one!’, heh! I can just so imagine her in class next time, fighting to be teacher’s pet and raising her arm, clamouring to answer questions first!
Brother and Boa then met up with us – they’d gone to the hotel restaurant, wanting to have a rest and a drink, and the waitress stipulated that for non-staying guests, they need to spend a minimum of RMB500 PER person. Crazy! We saw this huge Mao jacket hanging on the cliff, and Rosabelle proceeded to exclaim, ‘叔叔的大衣服!'
We had made a full circle around the park, and by then proceeded to walk out, but they of course had to wait for the littlest one to catch up… you’re only as strong/fast as your weakest/slowest member, remember? Heh…
So my brother resorted to carrying her, as she cooperated, and even took a photo with Gu Gu.
We then headed back to Yangshuo, where I stopped on the way to withdraw more cash for my brother. He’d wanted to use his foreign bank card to withdraw RMB, so I figured he might as well save on the conversion/bank charges, then reimburse me in SGD (which I need) later. Since mine was a Beijing-issued bank card, there was an indication of RMB2.50 per RMB1,000 withdrawn – definitely much more worth it than for my brother to do so. When I came back, our girl was happily munching on a strawberry-flavored Pocky stick. Apparently, she bawled when I went down without her, so my mum consoled her, very quickly and successfully with the snack. She was asking for Pocky Pocky for days after! After that, we walked to Riverview Café near our hotel for lunch, as it literally has a river view just outside.
But the food was really indescribably bad – the spaghetti bolognaise was an orangey-pink (think artificial flavoring/coloring), the Chinese dishes were lousy, and Boa was so offended by the gunk they dared pass off as ‘pizza’ he did not go beyond two slices. Maybe the only thing edible was the free noodles they gave (as they’d run out of rice)… shudder! Thank goodness we were all quite hungry as it was already past 3pm, so we just managed to eat a little…

After that, we went back to the hotel where our girl slept close to 5pm for about 1.5 hours (so I managed to take a bath first), as I woke her up in time to catch the 6:30pm transport picking us up for the 7:45pm Liu Sanjie show that night! As it was going to be an outdoor show, I let Simon don my Adidas sports jacket, my scarf and my beanie, as he did not have other thick(er) clothing. Now, this was no normal show, this was my answer to missing the opening of Beijing Olympics 2008 live, as it’s also directed by the renowned Zhang Yimou.

The van went around to pick up two other groups of guests first, and very soon, we got hastily herded down to assemble in front of the waiting area. My goodness – this is really what you call人山人海, as there were throngs of people, and I told the driver off for walking so far ahead and not looking back to wait for us, the group with the young and elderly. Our tickets cost RMB220 (face value of RMB238) as we bought them through the hotel. Brother had wanted a better category with face value of RMB320 but as we booked only in the morning, they had all sold out. There’s even a special VIP area with RMB680 seats! But no matter what, we all had to queue to get in… and they handed out free disposable raincoats…
It was quite a distance to walk in and finally we went in and found our seats – Simon had a portable wooden chair he could squeeze into in front of us (think his ticket was at half price), and of course Rosabelle had no seats. It wasn’t long before the rain came down and we had to start putting on our rain jackets – Rosabelle and I had waterproof down jackets so we just made do with that. See my brother’s ugly face as he tried to look as horrendous as possible (not too hard for him, actually…).
It was full-house that night as we saw a sea of raincoats and some umbrellas (they had to keep the umbrellas once the performance started, though), since it’s an open-air performance. Apparently, there are 2,500 seats in the house.
And then it started (and I obviously could not take good-enough pictures with my snap and shoot)… the 600 participants in the show are all local, mostly from Zhuang and Yao background. Liu Sanjie is a legend that originated from the Zhuang minority people, the largest minority group in China. The story is about a legend of a woman called Liu Sanjie, which means "third sister", about this lady who had a beautiful voice at very young age – it’s such a famous story that in 1960 a movie was released and they were selling the CDs/DVDs all over Yangshuo and outside the amphitheatre.

The story in the movie as in the legend and the movie is about a local gangster who falls in love with Liu Sanjie and wishes to make her his concubine. The boyfriend and his friends in the village free her and the couple then escape, turning themselves into a pair of larks.

There were some points where I was awed by the magnitude of it all, but Rosabelle had her own ideas as she saw the men holding flaming torches, and she burst out into 祝你生日快乐... haha, so cute!
At the end, as they were dancing on a crescent moon and disappeared from sight after, she even asked me about the 叔叔that摔倒, heh… As for Simon? He was sitting on my brother’s lap, and fell asleep maybe like 10 minutes into the 70-minute show, haha!
I was so proud of my baby girl for lasting the full performance, not fussing, and not afraid of the dark or the rains. Well, I had to let her have a cookie as it was quite late and she seemed to be hungry, heh! As we were leaving, she stepped on the seats and saw my mum in the way, so she said, ‘Excuse me, Po Po’, much to my mum’s amusement.
We then found our way back to the driver and his van, that brought us back in the rains to our hotel. After a quick discussion, we decided to head to Cloud 9 restaurant, which was the same way we came in, but quite a long way down the road (if we’d known, we should have gotten the driver to stop us there). It was a normal Chinese meal, nothing superb about this highly-acclaimed restaurant, but it was supper for us as we ate close to 10pm, heh! I think our girl was hungry as she was eating every morsel in her bowl, and not rejecting when I asked her whether she wanted more.

It was really quite a night for us as by the time we headed back to the hotel and into bed, it was already 12:30am, phew!

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