Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

Climbing In China (Casey's TR)

My friend Casey went to climbing in China this summer. While there, she sent out two emails describing her experiences. With her permission, I posted her emails to our forum. If you click on that link, you'll see some pictures of the climbing area she visited.

Part One:

so after a long flight and even longer wait in the airport for the rest of the crew to arrive, we finally made it to shenzhen, just barely in time to try to catch an overnight bus to yangshuo (our eventual destination). after running from bus station to bus station and almost taking out like 100 chinese people on the way, we rolled in at like 7:29 for the 7:30 bus, and were informed that there were no tickets for that night or for the following night. so we ended up stuck in shenzhen for 2 and a half days; john and shannon got out a day earlier on an overnight train, so alan, jake, jacob and i trekked all around shenzhen and saw miles and miles of useless crap. the entire city is one big trinket mall, and chinese are all about selling you whatever you will buy for whatever price they can get. everything is way over packaged, over processed, the english is funny and nonsensical (some cookies we bought had "overbalanced mouth feel" written on the package).. the banana chips make men more handsome and the tea makes women more beautiful.. and i've managed to retain about 5 words of chinese. never in my life have i had to work so hard to remember a language. also, jake bought some chinese liquor that looked like sake, that ended up being basically 112 proof refined petroleum. you could pour that in the buses and they would probably run. it definitely will kill any parasites.

we finally got in to yangshuo a few days ago, and climbed the last two days. it is WAY HOT. seriously- it's probably in the 90s at least during the day and feels hotter due to the humidity. the climbing is good, and there is tons of undeveloped limestone, but it's so hot that it's hard to hang on and hard to maintain motivation. yangshuo itself is a total backpacker community- not as much chinese culture per se. and i swear it is impossible to find fruits or vegetables anywhere. if you want packaged chicken legs though, or sugary candied anything, it's everywhere. the food is generally okay, not great, although i haven't been eating any snake or starfish. shan was going to buy noodles at the store, picked up the package, and noticed roaches crawling around all over inside the bag. and last night alan, jake and jacob drank some liquor made out of dead lizards and snakes.

we're going to try to go swimming today- it's roasting!!

Part Two:

so since i last wrote, china has not cooled off but we are getting used to the heat. on one of the rest days we rode bikes out of town and went swimming in the river. okay, so first of all, riding bikes in china is ridiculous. any sort of transportation in china is ridiculous, seeing as there are no traffic laws, everyone passes everyone whenever they can, and there is just this chaotic mass of bikes, motor bikes, cars, buses, water buffalo, and people. we got tandem bikes and i almost bit it probably 30x on the way. having bad depth perception not working in my favor on this one. however, we made it and the swimming was great. and it was really nice to get out of the city.

we went climbing one day at moon hill, this amazing arch of limestone, and the climbing was super good. huge tufas everywhere. there was a nice breeze too which made the heat more bearable. john got some good pictures, i'll send them out when he posts them. it was really beautiful up there. yesterday we tried biking to the riverside crag, which is literally right on the river, so we went swimming in between routes. which sounds nice, but it was so hot that even the river was too hot. after every climb you are covered in a thick layer of sweat, chalk and dirt. biking with heavy packs over bad roads was an experience.. especially because it rained and the rocks were really slick, so of course i was close to falling over most of the time. we rented these old bikes that ride like you are sitting in a chair, so pedaling uphill is pretty hard.

everywhere we go the chinese address us as "hello"- those are our names, we are all "hello" to them, and the chinese word for 'foreigner' which i cannot recall right now. still haven't been able to pick up much chinese. and i still haven't eaten snake but who knows what is in the dumplings. we made some friends at the local climbing shop, one of whom is from phoenix and speaks chinese, so he is helping us along and mostly helping us keep from getting ripped off at restaurants. sometimes when you sit down to eat, they give you your plates and cups wrapped in plastic (which makes you think they are sanitized even though they probably aren't) and then they charge you for the use of the plates.

anyways that's all for now- we're going to check out white mountain today and it's a little rainy, which is good, should cool us off a
little.

Epilogue:

the climbing was good and yangshuo is very beautiful. the cultural differences were difficult, but the country is in the midst of much change, and it's always strange to be in such a different place. i was intending for it to be entertaining more than anything else. if you'd like to post my emails, can you add that the climbing at white mountain and moon hill is really really good, and make sure to go in october/november or march/april when the temps are nice.

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