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Journey to Yangshuo

Landing in Guilin was like descending through an aeronautic obstacle course of karst mountain and cloud, storm-filtered sunlight painting the rice paddies a thousand shades of silver. The tear ducts began mustering armies. When my bus crossed into the countryside on the edge of town, the vanguard commenced the march into battle, and as we wound into an undulating landscape of towering limestone spires, the Third Brigade of Tears overtook the floodgates; all was lost to beauty. It was like wandering through a watercolor painting, through a poem about a mountain range that learned how to dance. A-hummin’ Acoustical Acupuncture’s organic symphony of an album A Leaf’s Journey escorted me along through what must have been the loveliest hour of all time, a choice inspired by my ipod’s random selection of the first track on the disc just as we turned onto Highway 321 and into the dominion of magic. God is cool like that.

Mountain waltz after mountain salsa; the deeper in we got, the harder the pinnacles grooved. We passed villages carved into limestone cliffs, farmers in conical straw hats balancing rice baskets on bamboo poles. The bus route ended at the Green Lotus Hotel, where I was able to communicate to a concierge, after more than a few minutes of diligent effort and more than a few grams of patience on both of our parts, that I was bound for Oral English College, a boarding school on Lanhua Road. She finally whisked me into a taxicab, conferred with the driver in Chinese, and off I bounced through the musically tumultuous streets of Yangshuo, grinning madly into the wind. Upon arrival, the head bossman Stone shook my hand and handed me off to Jimmy the Jovial Receptionist and superhero who miraculously pushed, pulled, and otherwise propelled my 44-pound suitcase up six murderous flights of stairs to my room. I really can't imagine how he did it; just dragging my own ass up those stairs with any semblance of grace or composure is an arduous work in progress. But the grueling effort is well rewarded with a vista fit for royalty.

My quarters are simple and spartan. The bed is hard and the water pressure sucks. The sink leaks and the internet is slower than a banana slug on Xanax. But I've never been happier in my life.


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