Biking and Rafting through Yangshuo

23 Sep

Original Post:  August 11, 2007

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it, but it is really hot here.  100 degrees or more hot plus humidity.  Just keep that in mind.

This is exactly why we got the guide. We would never have figured out where to go!

On the third day in Yangshuo we decided that the best was to see the area was to rent some bikes and cruise around the countryside.  We hired a guide for the day because the roads aren’t marked and you can get lost really easily.  We started off early in the morning to beat some of the heat, which was a good idea and we were able to ride for a few hours without getting too roasted.

Part of the plan was to take a break after a bit and cruise down the river on bamboo rafts. Touristy?  Yes.  Did we care?  No.  The guide arranged for our bikes to be picked up and we hopped on the shaky rafts that had two seats and a big umbrella. The river was super mellow and we just basically cruised along looking at the scenery and hanging out.

You don't need to pay for photos when you have friends on adjacent rafts.

Every once in a while we would pass floating stands that had beer, water and some meat on a stick for sale.  We also passed a couple of places where they had rigged up computers/printers on rafts and they would take your picture and print you out a copy right there.  These were always right near the places where there was a drop in the river (not sure what it was, like a little dam or something that we had to go over) so the pictures looked like you were coming off a little waterfall. We declined to get one, but I was impressed they had managed to hook that up in the middle of a river.

At the end of the raft trip we were met by the guide and our bikes and we continued on our way.  It was a two-hour ride back to the town and at this point the temperature was easily over 100.  We were on little bitty dirt roads that had no shade but it was amazing – rice fields and mountains all over the place. There were also locals that wanted you to stop and give them a few RMB to take a picture with their water buffalo, which we finally gave into just because they were under the only tree we’d seen in over an hour.

Feeling hot hot hot...

Amazing landscape

At one point we stopped in a tiny town to get some water and rest for a bit.  Naturally this was a huge spectacle and within a few minutes half the town and their kids were milling about this tiny little store staring and giggling and attempting to say hello.  It was pretty funny, the kids spoke a few words of English and one little girl took me around the back to show me all the snails she caught earlier that day in the river.

When we finally made it back to the hotel (did I mention, Morning Sun Hotel, pretty decent, great location) I thought I was going to pass out. I have never been so sweaty in my entire life.  It looked like had been rained on.  I basically got in the shower, clothes and all, turned on the cold water and let the water bring me back to my normal temperature.  After resting a bit Justin and I went for dinner at the Twin Peaks Cafe (West Street) and had the best Chinese meal I’ve had since I ‘ve been here.  Good portion size, no bones (this is huge, we had bone fragments in nearly every meat dish we encountered) and loads of veggies.

Since it was our last night in Yangshuo we decided to hit up this river/light show that people had been ranting and raving about.  I was expecting some dinky little place with a few chairs a la the Kung Fu debacle in Beijing.  In reality it was an enormous amphitheatre with real assigned seating!  Someone said it packs in 3000 people per night, but I wouldn’t quote me on that.  It’s on a wide part of the river and most of the show takes place on floating docks or on the bamboo rafts.  Lots of the local farmers and fisherman participate in the show – there are a few points when the whole river is lit up with torches on boats.  It was a really good show, if for nothing else than to see the lights on the water.  Afterwards, it was back to the hotel to pack up because the next day  we were going to head up to the Longji rice terraces…

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