Head­ing For a Fal­l阳朔历险记

An Ad­ven­ture in Yang­shuo

That's China - - Contents - Text by / Hannah Ricke

The nar­row ce­ment path ended abruptly, fall­ing off into a small stream - fac­ing a stone wall. Bolt­ing across the stream like Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings, I didn’t al­low my­self enough time to pump the breaks, so, as the path ended, so did I...

Life is funny. Travel is funny. And trav­el­ing within main­land China can be very funny. Let me tell you a story about a road, a face, a river, and a dead-end, and let me tell you what I learned along the way.

It was two days into Spring Fes­ti­val and a friend and I had plans to go to Yang­shuo, Guangxi prov­ince, Nepal and then Malaysia. It was go­ing to be an epic ad­ven­ture, as all ad­ven­tures are. Who would we meet? What would we see? Would we re­turn to China the same, or al­tered in some way? The pos­si­bil­i­ties seemed as end­less as the roads ahead of us; the po­ten­tial as lim­it­less as the hearts in our chests.

So, our first ad­ven­ture found us bik­ing through Yang­shuo, which, if you haven’t been, is pretty much a fairy land of dreams. I’ve been there twice and would gladly go back for more. The moun­tains min­gle and mut­ter like gi­ants at a town meet­ing. While milling about, you ex­pe­ri­ence an odd kind of grandeur that is dif­fer­ent from any other kind of grandeur I’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced in this world. It’s a strange kind of beauty - and that’s the best kind if you ask me.

We had been bik­ing for maybe 5 hours when the path ended at the bank of a river. Not want­ing to pay the fare to take a raft over the wa­ter, we thought we could find an al­ter­na­tive route across the river. Mis­take num­ber 1.

We found a nar­row ce­ment path that stretched over the wa­ter, and de­cided to zoom over it at high-speed. This way, we rea­soned, we’d go un­no­ticed. We nd were get­ting our­selves riled up to break a rule that didn’t ex­ist. And so, be­gan our charge over the river.

Now here’s the funny part. The nar­row ce­ment path ended abruptly, fall­ing off into a small stream - fac­ing a stone wall. Bolt­ing across the stream like Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings, I didn’t al­low my­self enough time to pump the breaks, so, as the path ended, so did I.

Peel­ing my­self off the wall and out of the wa­ter I be­gan to chant “I’m okay, I’m okay” in or­der to let my travel bud­dies know that I was, if not ex­actly okay, then alive at least. There was blood, but noth­ing hurt too badly. My teeth weren’t bro­ken (hash­tag van­ity), and I climbed sheep­ishly out of the stream.

My moon-face quickly be­gan to swell and my al­ready too-puffy lips in­flated com­i­cally. My cheek­bones re­or­ga­nized them­selves and a mag­nif­i­cent black eye be­came my new travel com­pan­ion for the du­ra­tion of my trip.

When you crash into a wall be­cause you’re rid­ing too fast (feel­ing like Aragon) in or­der to avoid pay­ing 10 kuai to cross a river in south­ern China, the only re­sponse is to laugh. Even with a bloody nose.

When life takes away our pride and dig­nity, I think we need to em­brace it. I’ve found that all the mishaps and em­bar­rass­ing ac­ci­dents I’ve en­dured have only strength­ened my pride and spirit. Humiliation will do that; it’s a great lev­eler. So, the next time you’re flat on your back, look to your left and I’ll prob­a­bly be there too, and we can have a good laugh about it as we help each other up from the dirt.

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