Hectic Days In, And Getting To, Yangshuo

Yangshuo Travel Blog

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Welcome to my humble abode


This is the second time I've attempted to write this blog; the first time I got Chinese symbols replacing Roman ones before the computer annoyingly crashed altogether as I was doing the finishing touches. (Needless to say the original was much more informative and entertaining.) In fact, it's a good job that I had had a Tai Chi lesson to instill some inner tranquility, otherwise I might have had to unleash my own interpretation of the monkey claw on the PC monitor.

After a three-hour hydrofoil journey out of Hong Kong's harbour, we arrived in Gangzhou, where we would meet our guide, Dragon (second name not 'Slayer,' unfortunately), for the first time, who told us he couldn't meet us in Hong Kong due to visa restrictions on people from mainland China.

The Mountain Water Garden
I thought we would have a few hours to explore the city, which actually looked like a giant, smoky, industrial wasteland for the most part, but it soon became obvious that Dragon was not keen. When we asked him if we could have a look around, he advised us not to on the basis that there were too many pickpockets. Instead, we stocked up on food for the overnight train journey. Dragon told us that he liked to promote responsible tourism, helping to support local businesses and independent retailers. We then went to buy our dinner at 7-Eleven.

I was expecting the worst from the trains, but it actually ended up being quite comfortable. Dragon explained that over public holidays, it was often so crowded that people slept in the luggage racks and in the toilets and people would have to climb through windows to get on and off the train.

Early-morning balloon tri[
Thankfully, I saw nothing of the sort.

Yangshuo's scenery is spectacular, and very reminiscent of the karst landscapes of Halong Bay in Vietnam. A relaxing boat trip down the Li River was a good way to see the scenery in all its glory; you can even see the exact setting that appears on the 20 Yuan note if your boat is positioned well enough.

 

That evening, we watched some cormorant fishing, where the fishermen would have cormorants tied to their boat, catching fish for them, before they forced them to regurgitate their catch into a basket. It was a bit of a tourist trap, but interesting nonetheless.

The next day was a biggie. We started with a cycle through the countryside at 6:00am - as to avoid the 8:00(!) heat - to the foot of Moon Hill, which we duly climbed, which in the inevitable scorching heat and humidity was hard work.

This guy has the right idea

While the others had had enough of cycling for one day (even though it was about 9:30), Steve, one of the Aussies, and I headed to Dragon Bridge, which was a much better cycle ride, following the river, past fish farms, rice paddies and cobbled villages. The bridge itself wasn't much to talk about, but the ride there really was special.

We arrived back in town with enough time to have a shower before our afternoon activities of Tai Chi and cooking. I enjoyed the Tai Chi - even though I was knackered - but by the time cooking came round I had worked up a big appetite - despite losing it for a while after a trip to the market made me witness dogs being butchered while others in cages sat waiting for a similar fate. We cooked beer fish, sweet and sour pork and stuffed peppers with pork and vegetables.

Some newlyweds
It was very nice, if I do say so myself.

The following day was a complete contrast: I slept in late, did very little and hardly burned many calories. The only notable instance was the chat I had with a local Chinese student by the river. I find it hard not to be defensive as for the most part people do end up trying to sell you something, but in this case he was just trying to improve his English. So I spent some time helping him with some homework and told him a little about my trip, then compared life in England to that of China. Afterwards he asked his friend to take a photo of us, who then asked if he could have one, too. My new friend obviously wasn't such a good photographer as he did about as good a job at centreing us as a blind man in a coma, much to the friend's obvious dismay.

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Welcome to my humble abode
Welcome to my humble abode
The Mountain Water Garden
The Mountain Water Garden
Early-morning balloon tri[
Early-morning balloon tri[
This guy has the right idea
This guy has the right idea
Some newlyweds
Some newlyweds
Dragon fly on the Li
Dragon fly on the Li
View From Monkey Janes Rooftop Bar
View From Monkey Jane's Rooftop Bar
Cormorant fishing
Cormorant fishing
Moon Hill
Moon Hill
The conquerors of Moon Hill
The conquerors of Moon Hill
Hiding under the hat wont help you
Hiding under the hat won't help you
Ducks
Ducks
Our cycle along the river
Our cycle along the river
Motorbikes = lazy. You heard.
Motorbikes = lazy. You heard.
Dragon Bridge inscription
Dragon Bridge inscription
The Monkey Claw
The Monkey Claw
Spicy
Spicy
Greg and I cooking up a storm
Greg and I cooking up a storm
Sundown in Yangshuo
Sundown in Yangshuo
Are you this thing doesnt bite?
Are you this thing doesn't bite?
Yangshuo
photo by: sylviandavid