18 September 2016

Greg & Penny’s Chinese Adventure 2016 – Part I

Welcome home! As Penelope and I slumped into bed on Thursday evening we realised that we had accidentally discovered a space/time warp. As we had enjoyed so many outstanding adventures on our trip to China, it felt as if we had been away for months, not merely two weeks. I guess it’s true what they say – doesn’t time fly when you are enjoying yourselves? And what enjoyment we enjoyed!

If you have been paying attention, you will know that we flew out to China on 1 September to spend ten days with our newest granddaughter (and her mother and father, of course) and to participate in her 100 Day Birthday Party!

There’s too much to cram into one edition so I’m afraid you’ll have to put up with a few instalments.

The flight out to Hong Kong and then on to Guilin was fine if tediously long. Adam had arranged a driver to collect us at the airport and transport us magically to Yangshuo. We were a bit disconcerted when there was no driver holding aloft a notice with our name but he eventually showed up and we got into Yangshuo soon after dark, just about 24 hours door to door!

We were staying on this trip at the Outside Inn about 5 km outside Yangshuo and Adam, Ava and Jessica were waiting for us when we pulled in. The Inn is run by an old friend of Adam’s, a Dutchman named Ronald who we first met on our first visit to Yangshuo in 2004. It’s a very friendly, small “guesthouse” with a unique character, located in a set of traditional Chinese farmhouses which have been renovated into rooms with Western standards. The houses are built with ‘Adobe’ mud bricks, which give them their typical yellow colour.

We were accommodated in one of the “deluxe” rooms which was very comfortable. It had a very comfortable double bed with (apparently) a new mattress complete with mosquito net. The old adobe buildings retain their local charm but the rooms are now fitted out with all the “mod cons”, an ensuite bathroom with shower and western style toilet and, thankfully, air conditioning. The weather on our arrival, by our standards, was very, very hot (about 33o Celsius) with 120% humidity.

After a bite to eat we put our heads down and slept the sleep of the just.

Saturday involved a leisurely introduction to the excitement of the coming days, a bit of cycling and sight-seeing. Adam walked the 5 km out from his bar, the Lounge, along the canal path carrying Jessica in a sling. When he arrived we ate a hearty breakfast and then arranged to meet later for a cycle round the countryside. We borrowed some bikes from the Inn and rode down the very smooth and picturesque canal path which fortunately brings you into Yangshuo about 100 metres from Adam’s bar. We then set off on a cycle round the countryside ending up eventually at the Moondance Hotel which is run by another Dutchman friend of Adam’s, a chap by the name of Roland (very confusing). The big attraction of the Moondance Hotel is its swimming pool and we were delighted to be able to don our bathing costumes and refresh ourselves. Ava’s folks, her sister, brother-in-law and nephew arrived later that afternoon along with one of Ava’s aunts and joined us out at Moondance. An early dinner and the short cycle “home” found us snoring again.

Sunday brought us to the main event – Jessica’s 100 Day Birthday Party. Apparently, this is quite an important event in China dating, we guess, from a period when infant mortality was considerably higher than it is nowadays. If a child survived his/her first 100 days it was likely that he/she would make it past infancy and into adulthood. So, on the Sunday morning we gathered along with Adam & Ava and Ava’s family to prepare the Outside Inn for the party. There was much blowing up of balloons and other decorating to carry out and we were even assisted by some of the hotel guests who couldn’t believe their luck!

The party started about 3.00 and went on into the early, early hours (well, at least for us it did – at half past eight in the evening we were suitably shattered even if it was still only about half past one in the afternoon back in the UK. We were so jetlagged that our body clocks were all over the place).

After the main festivities and a fabulous meal where the food just kept coming and coming, there followed an open mic session to which various guests contributed, including me. However, not having been warned that I would be called upon to perform, my mind went blank and I could remember only about a quarter of the lyrics to one of my old standards, “There Stands the Glass”. It was a dismal performance to be sure and I was delighted to be able to leave the stage to someone else! Others, fortunately, were very much better and I suspect, by the end of the evening, no one could remember my abysmal contribution. The young children (two Chinese/Swiss boys and a Chinese/Welsh girl all aged between two and four) threw themselves around the “dance floor” with great vigour, outlasting all the adults. A splendid time was had by all.

I will merely mention Penelope’s near-disastrous faux pas which was somehow miraculously averted due, undoubtedly, to divine intervention! I am forbidden from commenting further although Pen says that if someone were to get her astonishingly drunk she might spill the beans. Rest assured that I knew nothing of it until the whole episode was revealed to me later under threats of death and worse should I ever, ever, ever tell anyone else. Now that I have your attention I will reveal only that it involved a camera, a photo and Ava’s mother. Beyond that my lips are sealed.

More next time.

Much love to you all,



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