Thursday, 13 March 2008

China here I come

Thanks to the wonders of modern medication, my journey seemed to pass fairly quickly and I found myself in Yangshuo without too much hassle. After finding my hotel, I met up with the rest of the team and had a relaxed evening, eating great food and sharing travel stories.

The next day found us at Odin’s Den which is a large, steep cave that used to pose as a kind of fortress during the Japanese invasion. The crag was a tough introduction back into sport climbing and most of my time was spent hanging off bolts, wondering why easy moves were making me so tired. I soon felt completely fatigued and after a slog to the top of the mountain to see the beautiful Moon Hill it was time to call it a day and return to base.

Ordering food in a foreign language is always tricky but in Asia it seems especially hit and miss. Most of the dishes turn out to be great but sometimes, they just don’t quite do it for me. When our “braised whole chicken” turned out to be a chicken carcass (minus the breast and drumsticks???) clavered into small pieces, it was clear that everyone was a little disappointed. At least there were some other tasty dishes, and the whole meal, for seven people, cost about the same as a cheap meal for one back home.

I began to get the jet lag jitters and decided a rest day was in order. My forearms ached from the previous day and so I joined the rest of the team for a full body massage. The masseuse was really skilled and strong and even though it often hurt like hell I found it hard not to drift off into a relaxed sleep. I wandered around town for a little while, exploring the various shops that line the narrow streets and practicing my bartering skills. I feel like they are coming along quite nicely but in reality, the final price, which is normally around 20% of what was first asked, is probably still 10 x what it is worth. C’est la vie!

Dinner was fantastic, a feast of Pizza and spring rolls really hit the spot but for some unknown reason, I woke the next morning feeling pretty ill.

After eating breakfast and forcing down a load of coffee and water in the hope that either might make me feel less woozy we packed into a mini bus and headed to White Mountain. As the crag came into view for the first time, I was overwhelmed at its scale and as the psyche washed over me, I began to feel much better. After a steady warm up, I moved onto something harder. I chose a relatively short, steep route that looked like it might suit my bouldering strengths. After getting the beta from my friend Nick, I tried to flash it and made it to the 5th bolt before falling on a wild slap to the mid height rest jug. After pulling back on, I climbed bolt to bolt to the top, managing the moves on my first try but feeling unable to link many together. On lowering to the floor I felt a little frustrated, so far I have not found any of the climbing particularly difficult, but I get tired all too quickly to stand any chance of completing a route. I guess this is only my second day sport climbing in over a year; hopefully I should have a little fitness by the end of the trip.

Later on I surprised my self by managing to flash a route that Nick had climbed on his last day at the crag. It was a long battle but thanks to Nick’s ever present beta I managed to clip the chains. Emily tried the route after me and also flashed it. Being quite a bit shorter than me she had to make a few wild slaps in the middle section but stuck them with no problems and cruised to the top, inspiring.

There are a few lines on the cliff that really inspire me and I would love to be able to think I have the stamina to do them. It is still early in the trip and all I can do is work hard, let time do its thing and hope for the best. Ill keep you posted…

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