Sunday, May 24, 2009

Breaking Away

With beauty comes cost. And the "cost" associated with the limestone peaks of Yangshuo is the throngs of tourists who flock to see them and the tourism industry that has grown out of this wealth of humankind.

So what is one to do when he or she wants to experience the peace along with the beauty? Rent a bike and hit the road!

Venturing out of Yangshuo proper, we discovered the tranquil world of "outer" Yangshuo. The farming villages located here are living, working communities with natives who shape the land beneath the peaks into their food and wage.

When one particular village caught our eye, we decided to "off road" and hit the dirt path, to explore the fields that lie beneath the peaks. What we found was a quiet patchwork of lush green rice paddies, wading ducks, children playing (and trying to figure out what the waiguoren were up to), both basic but modernized homes, dirt brick barns, and a well atop a concrete slab, which we decided to make our resting place.

Catching a quick snack from our packed rations, we sat and quietly studied the fields and peaks. Away from the noise, the setting was much more appropriate for the accompanying scenery. Beauty beyond what pictures can show. For a while, we examined each individual peak (Julie even named one "Stretching Puppy" because of its shape). As the sunlight emerged from behind the heavy clouds, I was struck by the brilliance of all the green. More shades than I knew existed. I vowed to take over Crayola, and offer new crayon names, like "Rice Paddy Green" or "Limestone Peak White."

Hopping back on the bikes, and heading back to the main road, I think we all once again realized that taking the road less traveled definitely does make all the difference.



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