China Journal Chapt 4

Email to friends. 07/17/2008

Dear friends,
The final chapter of our journey took us on a train From Wuhan to Yangshuo, and eventually to Hong Kong.

The small city of Yangshuo, nested in a beautiful landscape of Karst peaks, lush vegetation and rivers, offers a peaceful and paradise-like setting comparable to the ones you can find in Southeast Asia. Backpackers of all horizons meet there to taste a well deserved rest after traveling the globe, and enjoy the multiple outdoor activities.
If you need a cheap, care-free, cool and not overcrowded vacation spot for a couple of weeks, I can tell you right now: this is Yangshuo.
Activities there are endless. We started with a biking tour through the back country. Awesome. I felt like if I was 11 years old again, cruising the French countryside on my really-not-hip-but-who-cares bike. Ha. Some memories are worth re-living.
In the afternoon, we had a Chinese cooking class, during which I also got to finally learn how to use a wok properly (darn, it had been on my mind for a long time) Awesome again.
The day after, we went on a trip with a small boat to explore the Li river. At lunch time, we stopped at a floating restaurant to eat and swim for several hours. In these moments, you catch yourself wondering if all you need in life isn't a bathing suit, good weather, and a few dollars for food...
Back in Yangshuo, some of us went for a Chinese watercolor and calligraphy class. The teacher happened to be a Kung Fu teacher. Former Shaolin monk (for those of you who don't know about Shaolin, it is a very mythic location in China for martial arts and is also the birth place of Kung Fu), he had been teaching Kung Fu for five years in the most notorious school in the Shaolin mountains.
I couldn't believe it. Kung Fu is not my favorite martial arts, but it was where I had started martial arts 26 years ago.
And practicing with someone of that caliber was a once in a lifetime experience.
The next day, I was in his class. And  it was...awesome again (damn, I'm running out of words).
Eventually, we left Yangshuo with the feeling it had been way too short, but we promised ourselves to come back.

After another 16 hour train trip, we got to Hong Kong.
This time, luck wasn't really on our side: we got into a major storm (see the pictures), and the weather staid quite nasty the whole time we were there. Still, we explored as much as we could, and made it to the old tram that took us to Victoria peak. But the Hong Kong bay in the fog and rain sure doesn't look as good. Ah, maybe next time. The Lan Kwai Fong bar area has quite a life of its own, though, and we felt pretty quickly at home there...until it was finally time to say good bye to China.

This trip has been one of the most amazing experiences I have lived in a very long time. Packed with rich cultural moments, physical challenges and close interaction with the locals, it allowed me to realize that by staying prisoner of our daily routine, we get stuck in our own reality; we lose our sense of Dream, the passion that made us who we are. Life shapes us  through our personal experiences, yes; but our personal experiences exist mostly because we decided to shape our own Life in the first place.
Ok, I had too much to drink, now.

Anyway, guys, I wish you to live this kind of experience as often as you can. For my part, I don't intend to stop there.
My next job is taking me to Israel next month, then back to LA, then Vancouver, Canada.
So, Life promises to be anything but boring.
Here are the last pictures:

Cheers, and enjoy your summer.