Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Biking to the Moon

Next day we had a lengthy bike ride scheduled and few people expected me to turn up. I confounded the nay-sayers, however, leaving Daniel behind to be the one casualty of the morning. Perhaps I am being too hasty there, for the truth of the matter was that Ger and Deborah got progressively sicker as the day unfolded, eventually departing early, while I didn't feel too great myself. In my case, I suspect the power of Long Island Iced Tea rather than the innocuous rat. Despite some woozy moments, I persisted; indeed I felt best while I cycled. And I was glad of the cycle. We went out into the countryside, travelling among the huge limestone columns. Our local guide, who naturally led the way, could not grasp the concept of speeding up though, and repeatedly we bunched up together, each cyclist trying to avoid bumping into the one in front. The fact is that at heart I hate to be manacled and this frustrated me no end. Eventually I turned on the speed and passed the guide out, enjoying the air and the sight of no one in front of me. Of course, a turning would turn up and I would have to be reined in repeatedly, but a constant slow avoidance of people in front would have killed me.

The guide was not always on top of the situation either. We stopped to take pictures of a weir, for instance, and as we walked a road down to the water, some locals started screaming at us. Apparently their family had built the road and their was a one dollar fee for using it. We begged ignorance and directed them to the guide, but she did little to placate them. To my hungover mind this was stress and I was glad when we saddled up and went on.

Part of this ride involved the option of climbing Moon Hill. This outcrop boasts a semicircular window at its summit and a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside. To get to it, however, requires climbing more STEPS. A lot of steps. The Chinese art of step-stepping. Deborah and Ger couldn't face it and took this opportunity to head back to the hotel. I too baulked, at least initially. I felt sick and hot, unable and unwilling to climb any more Chinese steps. However, there was that view, I was in Yangshuo and I would probably never be here again, so overcoming my reluctance I paid my fee and climbed with the rest of them. Pat, who had nearly said no too, led the way for the start of the climb. We had our souvenir sellers following us too, but thankfully the steep climb proved too much even for them and we soon left them behind. Eventually I did reach the top and took my stare. The land stretched out like a curving chessboard, the karst pieces in earnest war with each other, and I was thankful I had endured the climb. We had gotten a beautiful day too, so the green, brown and grey of it all shone before us.

Lunch was in an out of the way place, among orchards and serviced by two people. The food was fine, even exceptional in the case of the beer fish, but the iced tea, which I avoided, evidently went down the wrong way for Barbara who rushed into the trees to vomit almost immediately.

The cycle home was a lot faster as we left the guide behind and stuck to the main road. Crossing over a bridge, I was struck dumb by the beauty of it all. Long bamboo boats ferried couples down the mellow river, a river that gleamed merrily in the strong sunlight. Crowded though the scene was, it was glorious with colour and life. And I was on a bicycle. I was happy. Of course, when we got close to the town the traffic caused me to lose some of my grin. One roundabout in particular had most of us struggling to get safely across to our homeward road, but we made it.

I felt a good deal better and did a little shopping in the marketplace before heading back. That night we were to meet for a lightshow.


Post a Comment

<< Home