Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Our Trip-The Mud bath

It was two months into my contract when my company decided to give all the teachers a weeks paid vacation. “Wow. Where should we go?” I asked my friends. After much consideration my boyfriend and I decided it would be nice for us to take a trip just the two of us. The decision on where to go was a major one. There was Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, or even Tibet. After researching all these places and how to travel there we realized we needed to travel somewhere closer in order for us to enjoy our time off. If we travelled to any big city it would have meant a couple days on a train or a bus. So we were back to square one trying to figure out where to go. “You have to go to Guilin” said my roommate. He has been there longer then my boyfriend and I and had already done some travelling. “It’s more country then city, you’ll love it”. So after researching Guilin we decided that this was the destination for our first trip.

“Guilin…this Sunday…two tickets…” I said. Blank stare.
“Guilin…?” I repeat again. Once again, blank stare. After getting slightly frustrated I said “Eli call Joyce”. Joyce was our translator. She was amazing and did a great job at getting us out of difficult situations. After handing the phone over to the lady selling the bus tickets we receive a smile and know that she finally understands. The bus: a sleeper bus is designed for the comfort of the passengers travelling at a long distance. We were travelling for 8 hours. Once you walk on the bus there are three sets of bunk bed type beds on the left, the middle, and the right. We cram through the tiny aisle trying to find our bed, hoping they are close together. Documenting our travels after 5 minutes of taking ridiculous photos on the bus we realize that motion sickness is very common for Chinese people. There were people vomiting everywhere, so one can only imagine the smell. Keeping positive we sucked it up and slept most of the way there.

4 a.m. we have finally arrived at our destination. Fact: Chinese people do not stay on any time schedule what so ever. Exhausted from our trip we see two motorbikes, as we walk over to them they give us a look and smile. We show them the Chinese translation for hotel and they take us there. The man at the front desk sees us and charges us 400 yuan (which is approximately 60 Canadian dollars), but a ridiculous amount to spend on a room. Since we are both so exhausted we turn to each other and take out our wallets. The man was only doing this because we were white, and foreigners are seen as rich figures. After being ripped off we went up to our room, showered and went to bed for 5 hours, anxious to see where the next day will take us.

Waking up I drew back the curtains and seen mountains. I was speechless, it was absolutely breathtaking. “Eli, wake up! Wake up!” After struggling to get my boyfriend out of bed we leave the hotel and venture around the town. We eat breakfast at a waffle place where they wrap the waffle in peanut butter. Mmm… Soon after filling our bellies with food you shouldn’t eat in the morning we planned our day trip. We were going to the caves. Taking an hour bus ride out of town and then another 40 minute car ride up to mountain we finally make it.

We pay for our tour and get into this tiny boat that brings up into this cave. “Watch your heads” the sign (in English) reads. We duck down very low and come up into an amazing feeling of fresh cool air. It is dark and the only light is that coming from our tour guides flashlight. After being taken around this dark, miraculous cave they tell us about the mud bath. It is a giant pool of mud that we can swim in. My heart was pounding with excitement. “A mud bath Eli! A mud bath!” A feeling of nervousness comes over me because I cannot see what I am stepping into. It is cold. Eli goes in first and drags me in after him. Finally we work up the courage and submerge into this pool of mud screaming as we go down. Once we got used to the feeling this is where the games of throwing the mud began. “OK, now that we are done we have to wash off, where are the showers?” Oh how simple minded we were. There were no showers at all; there was a stream and hot springs that we had to wash off in. It was defiantly an experience.

This was my first trip with Eli into a cave of wonders and mud.


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  2. I really liked reading this because, like all your stories, it describes things I've never heard of or experienced before. Thankfully, I now know never to go on a Chinese sleeper bus. I hate seeing people puke!
    I felt like most of your story was telling, rather than showing. Perhaps you could have shown us the story by using dialogue at the beginning. Rather than straight up telling the reader what you and your boyfriend had to consider before going on your trip, you could have made a conversation out of it, showing what you said and how you decided on it through dialogue.
    However, I did like reading the description of the setting and the trip. I liked the line: "We cram through the tiny aisle trying to find our bed" - I can certainly picture the two of you doing this.
    I also really like the factual information you include in your stories, like the fact that you knew a translator, or how much money you paid in Canadian dollars. It makes me feel like I am learning about what it would be like to go to China, without actually going there.

  3. I really like your story, but I agree with Whitney, there is a lot of telling. Try taking out the verb "is/was/has been/have" and use more active verbs. I find this helps me.

    "There were people vomiting everywhere, so one can only imagine the smell."

    Susan mentioned in class about avoiding the phrase, "one can only imagine." What was your reaction to the smell? Did it make you gag? I know that no one wants to describe the smell of vomit, but I can thankfully say that I can't imagine the smell of a bus full of vomiting people. :P

    I would love more detail about certain things. What did the view from your hotel look like?

    This is something strange to comment on, but I do a lot of editing: be careful of how the tenses change in your story. Sometimes you are in present, and then you switch to past. I make this mistake all the time. :p

    I liked the dialogue in this story. I think that it helps us get to know you and your boyfriend without directly describing it.

    Overall, this is a really great story. Thanks :)

  4. First off, I’m really glad you’re in my blog pod. I love stories about travel, and your trip sounds so exotic and exciting! Your post was less about the titular ‘mud pit’, and more about the process of actually getting there, which I can relate to. When traveling you seem to spend most of your time/money just getting to the places you want to be and the things you want to see, huh?

    Like the other commenters said, there were definitely shades of ‘tell’, rather than ‘show’, and this post at times seemed like more of a report of what happened rather than a story about it. Maybe you could take it a little more ‘micro-level’, talk about the little details that stand out in your mind. The best parts of this piece were when you did that. e.g. “blank stare.” “We cram through the tiny aisle trying to find our bed...” I definitely wanted you to go into more detail about the mud bath itself. What did it feel like (other than ‘cold’)? Did it smell weird? Who else was there with you? Was the mud bath itself in this cave?
    If I can offer some advice, I also would get caught up in telling, and including all the insignificant parts (like how long you slept) of the story (and still do!) all the time, and to get out of that habit I would write scenes that were all dialogue, or I’d imagine the scene visually, like a movie, and try to write it that way. It definitely helped me; it might do the same for you! Whatever you do, keep writing, because I definitely want to hear more about your trip.

  5. Hello Chelsea!

    A write of a very interesting experience and it has a lot of elements that could make it into a really good piece of work. However, like everyone else mentions, more skillful writing is needed in order to make those interesting experiences into interesting stories. Showing, not telling is very important; whenever you allude to something being quite an experience, then you should explain what made it that type of experience. Another activity I recommend is to read your work out loud, slowly and surely. If it doesn’t sound right when you say it, more often than not something is wrong in how it was written. I believe that would help with your weakness and allow you to write about your awesome experiences more effectively, not to mention giving you another draft to work through errors. You have what it takes to tell a good story, you just need to work on the fundamentals in order to make the most of your writing. I hope that my comments help!