Traveling with kids can be a hard slog. But I’ve found that where you are can really affect how hard that slog seems to be. Some destinations accentuate the positive, and some destinations highlight the negative. For us, I think destinations that allow us to be outdoors and active are the ones that work the best, so we’ve been enjoying Yangshuo tremendously. After a slight delay with our flight on Saturday, we were welcomed to our hotel with a round of fresh orange juices on the side of the Yulong river; we supplemented those drinks with some food and beers for us (alcohol also seems to help accentuate the positive of parenting) to put us just in the right mood.
We dropped some stuff off in our room, then headed out for a beautiful hike among spectacular karst peaks and hidden caves.
After some exploring, we went into town for Indian food. On Sunday, we spent the day biking up along the Yulong river, then caught bamboo rafts to drift back down to the resort.
Afterwards, we caught a shuttle into town for some veggie burgers and pizza.
These first two days in Yangshuo have made me realize one thing I’ve come to appreciate about traveling with the boys is how eager they are for adventure. Spurred on by their eagerness, we’ve explored unmarked caves, farmers’ paths off into the wilderness and single track trails through rice paddies. We’ve taken detours into little villages and followed unmarked paths based on the suggestions of random strangers (total surprise of this trip: our pidgin Chinese plus many locals pidgin English means we can accomplish some basic conversations).
To the boys’ great delight, we’ve also seen water buffalo galore – the boys rode one at a local attraction, we saw one bathing, and Berkley even almost got run off the path into a rice paddy by one.
They’ve also been fascinated by the rice paddies – it’s now planting season, so we’ve seen a lot of work being done, both by humans and those water buffalos – and the boys love to stop to take this all in. We’ve also seen some not so wonderful things, like a dog being butchered on the side of the road. Through it all, the boys have bitched and moaned and whined and complained – a little. I mean – I’d be lying if I said they were spectacular the whole time. But really, they have been game for just about anything.
And for that I am grateful because Yangshuo is spectacular. Several of our friends have been here and raved about it, so I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype. I shouldn’t have worried. It’s all that and more. We can get off the beaten path and feel like we’re the only people in the world, aside from the local villagers (and by village – I mean actual village as some “villages” in China can have over 100,000 people). Yet at the same time, we can go into town and experience backpacker heaven (meaning good, cheap, Western eats and beer). When I envisioned what our travels in China would be like, this was really it – astonishing karst peaks, locals working the rice patties with their water buffalo, the whole nine yards. To be honest, I thought there’d be a lot more dragging of the boys along, kicking and screaming. Instead, they’ve risen to the occasion and taken the lead, and I couldn’t be more happy to be experiencing this journey with them (then again, that may just be those beers I consumed talking).