I'd been planning to spruce up my blog after the new year. It became quite easy to do when I won a giveaway on Bloom for a new blog template at Smitten Blog Designs. Thanks to both Bloom and Smitten for the new look! You'll see that I updated my blog roll on the sidebar -- be sure to check some of them out. And please become a follower!
It feels like we have some catching up to do, doesn't it? I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year. We enjoyed a quiet family Christmas with Chris's parents and then we all went on a little trip to Yangshuo to ring in the new year. Yangshuo is crazy beautiful. As you can see here:
We stayed at the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat (and highly recommend it). Yangshuo is more "touristy" than our home, Xiamen. It was fun to meet people from all around the world (France, England, Australia, South Africa, Ethiopia). It was also nice to blend in a bit more (well, as much as you can in China). We definitely weren't a novelty in Yangshuo. What did we do there, you ask?
We went into town to do some shopping and had our picture taken with this man and his hunting birds:
We got a map and went looking for a 1,400 year old banyan tree. We couldn't find it on the first outing and Dagim kept muttering "We've got a big problem!"
We didn't find the banyan tree that day but we did see lots of water buffalo, chickens and this cow:
We sat here (the front yard of the retreat) in the early evenings for happy hour -- wine for the grown-ups, fresh juice for the little one and hot french fries for everyone:
And we hired a driver to take us to some neighboring villages where we walked around, getting a glimpse at local life.
On our way back to the van, I saw this little shop and couldn't resist a picture (for obvious reasons):
I really enjoyed our time in Yangshuo. It was interesting to see a different part of China -- the mountains, the rivers. It's definitely more rural than Xiamen. And it was a good reminder that living in one city here does not really mean we "know" China. No more than a visit to New York City means that you've "seen" America. After a few days there, I was happy to get back to our more urban (and increasingly familiar) city. There's nothing like a trip away to make a new home feel like a real home, don't you think?