Original Post: August 9, 2007
Yangshuo is a backpackers paradise stop. There are a ton of Western restaurants that serve cheap and decent food – you can get real eggs and toast in the morning instead of boiled duck egg, which quite frankly I never managed to develop a taste for. Many people speak English, and there are a million things to do. The town is nestled in the middle of the mountains, so there’s a big hiking, biking, rock climbing, rafting scene. There is also an abundance of caves that you can visit. We decided to go check out the Silver Cave, it got great reviews and seemed like it might let us escape the heat for at least part of a day.
To protect the delicate structure of the cave, you have to go with a guide in a group. This is not our favorite way to see the sights, but in this case it was unavoidable. It took about an hour to get to the caves and once there we realized this was going to be a huge tourist debacle. There were tons of people and you had to filter into winding, roped off lines like at an amusement park.
Somehow, despite all the Westerners we saw in town, we were once again the only foreigners. There was a sign in English that said we had to enter in groups of 40 and stay with the guide because they controlled the lights and without them we’d be lost in the dark. Right. We let ourselves get shuffeled in with a big group of people, keep in mind, people are staring and pointing and giggling at us the whole time, so it was a bit of a scene, and the tour began.
Have I mentioned that the Chinese people seem to LOVE LOVE LOVE fluorescent lighting? I am not kidding, it’s a little like being in Vegas, even in the small mountain areas if they have a downtown. The highways in Shanghai are totally lit up as are many of the big buildings, which usually have patterned lights dancing along the outline of the building. Restaurants show their success with large displays of flashing neon. It’s a bit over the top. This little trend crept into the Silver Caves…the thing was lit up like a disco, complete with running X-mas lights in some areas.
There are all these beautiful rock formations and they are lit up in bright purple, green, yellow and red. The cave is truly gigantic, and is filled with stalagmites and stalagtites and some other formation that looks like the underside of a mushroom.
There were also quite a few underground water pools that reflected all the colors. The tour took nearly 2 hours, though we have no clue what our guide was speaking about so we spent the time just marveling at the structures and attempting to take a decent picture.
It was pretty sweet, but would have been sweeter without the million people and disco-theme. I would definitely recommend checking it out, but prepare yourself for the masses, and try to find an English speaking guide.