Within an hour of arriving in Kunming I was sitting in the communal area of my hostel. Right when I pulled out my laptop to start planning the day “Ophelia” by The Lumineers came on the radio.
When I was in Southern Cambodia I chose to sleep in my hammock rather than a dorm bed because who wouldn’t want to sleep outside AND spend just $1 for accommodation? I spent many nights feeling like the happiest girl alive while being rocked asleep by the coastal breeze. I mean really, whats the worst that can happen? A few mosquito bites? To this day I’ll always chose a hammock over a bed, but what I didn’t know back then was that BUG NETS ARE SO IMPORTANT.
Lets fast forward to the next month. I was in the sunny, charming city of Hoi An, Vietnam laying in my first ever booked private room, for a week straight. I did not do this because I was feeling bougie, or because I just wanted to pamper myself. I booked a private room because I got reeeeeeeeeally sick with what I’m assuming was Dengue Fever. Those of you who aren’t familiar with Dengue, it lasts for about a month. It peaks at its worst stage for about a week and the symptoms feel like you have the flu and strep throat while also having every bone in your body stepped on by a whole herd of elephants. It was not a pretty sight, and for a brief time I actually thought I was dying. Sometime during that week I got a message from my friend recommending The Lumineers’ new album. WiFi did not reach all the way to my room and this was the only album that I downloaded to my phone, so I spent a solid week listening to it from beginning to end while sprawled out in a private room.
Even though this album will always remind me of Dengue on the Vietnamese shoreline, I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. Most posts on social media make traveling look adventurously pristine but let’s be real, what’s the fun in that? You should get muddy, you should eat that unusual street food from the skeptical looking food cart, you will get lost and if you get Bali Belly, Dengue or some other weird sickness.. well thats just another fun story AND you’ll be the most interesting person to play “Two truths and a lie” with.
After 5 months in the industrial, concrete jungle of Foshan I was in desperate need for fresh air and trees. Yangshuo had everything I was looking for. On the porch of my hostel I noticed a familiar sound that I haven’t heard in far too long, I heard the sounds of bugs.
When you think of summer, what do you think about? I think about the first few days of summer vacation. Those days where you find yourself staring out into the sea, the first feeling of crushed shells and small rocks digging into the shoe-protected softness of your feet. You know, before the Long Island summer callouses start to form. I think of the first sunburn of the year, and fresh corn on the cob lathered with butter and sprinkled with black pepper. The staple side dish with every backyard BBQ. I remember the feeling of total freedom, the possibilities that the next two months will bring.
The sounds of the bugs led to the realization that I had absolutely no obligations until my empty wallet beckoned me back to the world of employment. I was at peace.
I enjoyed the feeling of being another friendly, foreign face in a foreign environment. Yangshuo was a smaller city on the outskirts of Guilin, but it was still a huge tourist spot for both locals and foreigners. My hostel had a nice mix of both, there was even another Long Islander staying. Small world.
I believe that the best way to see a city is to rent a bicycle. I spent most of my time in Yangshuo riding around rice paddies, turning left (when I totally should have turned right) and passing through smaller villages on the outskirts of town. This place reminded me SO much of northern Vietnam and maybe that’s why I felt so at home.
I was able to cross “ride a tandem bicycle” off my bucket list.
I apologize for not being consistent with my posts, and also for not giving too much detail about this city. If you’re really interested in learning more, here’s a better link.
Best way to learn more about Yangshuo.
Quit your life and go.