We woke up to the sound of heavy rain the next morning. Our plans for our only full day in Yangshou suddenly proved to be a challenge. You see, I had one request and one request only for this trip: to go for a bike ride in the countyside.
You tell me that we don’t have time to try stinky tofu, that we can’t fit in a trekking trip with homestays? Fine. But to tell me I couldn’t do the one thing I look forward to the most on all my trips? I could not tell you how sad I was.
Still, the girls stayed optimistic, suggesting we try and wait for the rain to stop. The rain lightened, but it never stopped. Consulting the bed and breakfast owner, Sam, a kind and generous young man, he informed us of a nearby trail that led right into the countryside.
“Do you really like to exercise or something? ” Sam asked, puzzled by our flaming desire to go for a bike ride despite the rain.
And so we went for a bike ride.
I have a soft spot for leisure bicycling. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but the feeling that it gives me– the sense of freedom that surges through me as the wind blows past me and the world whizzes by– there’s nothing else in this world that can replace that feeling. Not even the weather could dampen our spirits, and somehow, the rain made our perception of the place even more special. While we returned drenched from head to toe, the adventure only became more memorable.
I didn’t think anything else would make me feel as happy as I did then.
I was wrong.
Sam took us to Husband Mountain, a place that he thought was one of the most beautiful lookout points in all of Yangshou. He kindly drove and accompanied us for the rest of the evening, not asking for anything other than a bit of gas money. I don’t think he realizes this, but not only did he graciously give us his time, he also gave us the opportunity to see something that I will never forget for the rest of my life.
Let me take you back to around half a year before this trip. I was casually researching countries to travel to when at one point, I scrolled past a photo of the mountains from Yangshou. I paused, amazed at the sheer beauty of the place, and it was then that I vowed to go to the same place where that photo was taken.
When I walked up to the viewpoint… I was speechless. It was everything I imagined it would be, yet I was completely caught off guard by how beautiful it was. Compared to all the other times when I would excitedly whip out my camera and immediately begin capturing the moment, I felt paralyzed, unable to take my eyes off what was in front of me.
I had made it. I stood on top of a mountain I had only ever dreamed about being on, moved by the indescribable view laid out beneath me. Tears welled up momentarily.
I had accomplished my dream.
Perhaps, this is part of the reason why I love traveling so much. Life for me does not consist of one big dream or one ultimate goal, but rather, an infinite amount of small dreams and targets. Every time I travel, I am rewarded by a sense of accomplishment for achieving a goal. This particular moment was no exception.
Yangshou is now captured in my mind as an extremely precious memory. The girls and I all agreed that our time in Yangshou was one of our favorite experiences out of our entire trip.
I will remember the view from that mountain for a very, very long time.