Following the path to happiness

13:41, August 04, 2010      

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"Walkies!" We don't have to tell them twice. Our two dachshunds, Lulu and Alex, point their ears and bark excitedly. We take the small footpath just behind our hotel in Yangshuo, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, and walk into the green paradise.

The rainy season has left us a wonderful gift. So many tones of green I have otherwise exclusively seen in rainforests. On our right we pass a lone banana tree. The climate only allows a few, tiny fruits every year.

The dogs run ahead, our sons Desmond and Lenny follow them. They have brought their home-made swords and shields and carry them like warriors. You never know who you might find in the wild.

Then we come to a junction. The boys opt for the steep rocky slope. They love to climb. The area around Yangshuo is famous for its great rock climbing sites and several companies offer courses.

The view is breathtaking. karst peaks covered in green foliage and more karsts, a forest of bizarre, anthracite-colored rock formations, bamboo groves reaching up to the blue sky and lush rice paddies going all the way to the peaceful Yulong River.

The small, overgrown path winds through thickets, across glades and past many old graves.

A small group of fawn-colored cows block the track. A cow protects its newborn calf and wants to drive us away with her little horns. Frightened, we take some steps backwards, armed with branches and swords, and once more approach the herd.

The friendly, wrinkled cowherd smiles at us encouragingly. He is collecting snails and pulls them carefully out of their houses. "Dinner?" we ask. No, the delicacies are for his ducklings.

Once again, I wonder what it is that makes the older Chinese so adorable. Is it their jovial calm, their honest smiles, the story-telling wrinkles or simply the fact that they still live their lives without the necessity of pursuing a goal?

Past the orange plantation we arrive by a small farm. Barking, but tail wagging dogs watch us from behind the bamboo fence. The farmer nods at us kindly. Her house is simple, a few mud bricks, a straw roof, a water pump in the garden and the toilet in the orchard, and a satellite dish between the buildings.

The evening is pleasant. The hot air has cooled somewhat, the scorching sun is sinking behind one of the karst mountains and has left a pink veil in the sky. I love this time of day when the pace slows down and everybody goes home. We pass a hunched old woman. She is carrying dry leaves of a fruit tree. She can sell them for medical purposes and thus earn a few pennies.

The last stretch of our walk takes us through the manicured gardens of the villagers. Chili peppers and peanut shrubs bear nearly ripe fruits, the pomelos are still immature and will please us in the coming autumn.

Back at the hotel, we fill a bucket with cold water and place Lulu in it (too bad we do not fit in ourselves), who enjoys her bath. We also feel refreshed and deeply satisfied after our evening stroll. Going walkies isn't just great for dogs!

Source: China Daily(By Nadine Hudson)


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