Working on the Barge
Though we tried to follow fastidiously our map which provided the only intelligible path for our bikes through the karst peaks, we still found ourselves lost in the wilds of Yangshuo county. At the entrance of an ancient village which we originally thought lay along our intended route, thus necessitating our passing, two local ruffians, a rudimentary triad, I suppose, accosted our group. Manning their roughshod roadblock, they cajoled and quickly with their extortionist pressure made off with 30 yuan which I dutifully paid on behalf of our timorous group so that we could be rid of such louts. Inside the decaying walls of the village where centuries ago, scholars apparently secluded themselves in preparation for their civil service exams, we discerned that our trip indeed had gone awry as the only clear exit happened to be the entrance through which we originally came and where those duplicitous pair of parasites slouched and waited to feed off of other unsuspecting tourists. Irene's conversation with a group of the village elders confirmed our initial suspicion. What we did receive in recompense for our troubles, however, was an insightful tour of the village and the surrounding areas conducted by a very sweet, elderly lady whose amicable nature and incomprehensible Guangxi tongue swiftly won my allegiance. With her help, we rode out of the village to try our luck again, but not before waving goodbye and showering them with warm thanks that lit up their aging eyes like fireworks in the darkened sky.