Tag Archives: Yangshuo

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…

Guilin to Yangshuo on the Li River

9 Sep

Original Post: August 9, 2007

After departing from Xian we arrived in Guilin to spend a mere 12 hours so we could catch an early morning boat to Yangshuo. We were met at the airport by the service staff from the hotel. It was nice of them to pick us up from the airport, but their real motive was to attempt to up-sell us some much more expensive boat tickets. The Li River cruise is an absurdly popular way to see the mountains in this area, and we had pre-booked the basic boat cruise through Jenny’s travel agent. The guy from the hotel tried to tell us that cruise we had already booked was the super-bottom-of-the-line boat filled with drunkards and thieves who would be puking all over the place. He even went so far as to tell us that they hadn’t even sold any tickets for this particular cruise for more than 6th months. He was so full of crap that you could smell it a mile away. We stuck to our guns and he finally, after nearly an hour of refusing to upgrade, booked us the trip we wanted.

The boat people came and picked us up at the crack of dawn the next morning and sure enough, all very nice looking people, no scummy drunkards to be seen. The tour was not in English, we were the only Westerners on the bus and so we had no idea what was going on. We might not have even figured out which boat was ours (there were at least 20 boats at the docks and we were left in the parking lot with all our luggage and some sort of instruction in Mandarin and general pointing towards the docks) but luckily there was a young couple from Hong Kong who took pity on us and helped us find our way since they were on the same boat as us.

I tend to get violently ill on boats, so I was a little nervous about the prospect of being on one in the middle of China for 5 hours.  Fortunately the river was very calm so I survived without any major trauma.

We were in a parade of boats.

The scenery is really the only reason to take this cruise since you can get to Yangshuo by car in about an hour. There are these crazy mountains all over the place,  like huge skinny hills that jut out of the ground.  I believe they are made of limestone and interestingly enough look just like the formations in Halong Bay where we went on a cruise with my dad in April of 2010.   This area is what is depicted on the back of their 20RMB bills.  It’s hard to describe how bizarre these things are, and the photos really don’t do them justice.

Spectacular. I have dozens of photos, it's so hard to choose what to post!

A massive meal was included.


It was like being in a movie, or a painting, very surreal and beautiful. We spent most of the time on the deck just taking a million pictures, and then inside for a few minutes taking pictures of the food that was served – river crabs, prawns, veggies, something that looked like a hot dog…

We made it to Yangshuo all in one piece, fought our way through the crowds at the docks, and headed off to our hotel to relax and figure out a plan for the next few days.

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