Written by TwoIdiots on 07 Sep, 2009
We came to Yangshuo because of the Li River but we found that the nearby Yulong River and its surrounding villages a lot more fun. Our river rafting started at Yulong Bridge. From the main street in Yangshuo, we took a public bus to who…Read More
We came to Yangshuo because of the Li River but we found that the nearby Yulong River and its surrounding villages a lot more fun. Our river rafting started at Yulong Bridge. From the main street in Yangshuo, we took a public bus to who knows where (the locals told us to get on it), and asked the driver to let us out near Yulong Bridge. Then a three wheeler took us on a dirt road through the village to reach the bridge.At the bridge, we hired a bamboo raft with two locals to paddles us back to Yangshuo (almost). The trip took four hours and costed RMB 150 yuan. It's worth every penny. We just relaxed on the raft while the local guys did all the work. It was very peaceful and relaxing. Only a few tourists ventured this far on the Yulong River. It's so quiet that you could hear the river flowed and the birds sang.Ocassionally, a vendor selling drinks and snacks would flow by. It was perfect for us since we didn't pack any lunch. Of course you could also pull over to eat at a river front farm house/restaurant.We only saw a few people walked or biked along the river. For four hours, the beautiful hills and rocks flowed by us as if in slow motion. We got out of the raft just before the river turned right towards Moon Hill and we thanked our two guides with a big tip since they did a wonderful job. I'm sure for a small additonal fee, the guys will be more than happy to paddle us over to Moon Hill and back. Close
Written by Bill Pfeffer on 02 Mar, 2009
I doubled back to the Chinese pharmacy, hopeful I might be able to replace our broken thermometer. Wandering up and down the aisles, I scanned the shelves that were stacked with mysterious jars of herbs, the air flavored with a grassy aroma like a freshly…Read More
I doubled back to the Chinese pharmacy, hopeful I might be able to replace our broken thermometer. Wandering up and down the aisles, I scanned the shelves that were stacked with mysterious jars of herbs, the air flavored with a grassy aroma like a freshly harvested field. Soon shadowed by a curious clerk, I attempted to verbalize what I was searching for – thermometer, fever, sleeping, sick – when I resorted to pantomime - touching my forehead with the back of my hand, fanning my face, sticking my finger in my mouth, then observing my knuckles as if they were numbers. Quickly, my feeble acting attracted another inquisitive clerk. Met with vacant stares, suddenly, from across the store, yet another clerk called something out and smiles of understanding washed over their faces. Led around the corner, they pointed to two stacks of thermometers, one pile red, and the other blue. "Two Yuan, two Yuan," (25 cents) they harmonized as I picked up one of each color, held them out, and asked "same–same?" "Two Yuan, two Yuan," they both answered, and we began a singsong refrain of "two Yuan, same-same" back and forth, like competing cheerleading squads at a basketball game, neither of us able to break the communication logjam. Finally, another clerk from across the store walked over with an impish grin, grabbed one of the thermometers, stuck it under her armpit, and shook her head while repeating "no-no," all the while her co-workers continuing to provide a background chorus of "two Yuan, two Yuan". Of course, I realized. A rectal thermometer! Only then did I notice the readout was in Centigrade, but wisely thought to leave that discussion for another day. Traveling independently in China for three months presents many challenges, with even the simplest tasks requiring inordinate amounts of patience and humor, and where achievement is measured on something as simple as finding and buying a pack of band-aids. Replacing a broken thermometer at the pharmacy involved a humorous skit of charades, while shopping at a food market becomes a test of perceptive reasoning, as you speculate on the contents of the vacuum-sealed package based on the cover picture. Fortunately, we had arrived in Yangshuo, the premier attraction in the Hunan province of Southern China, located one hour southeast of Guilin by bus. Throughout history, poets have crafted lyrics over its mystical beauty and artists have rendered the landscape into unique and characteristic Chinese scroll ink paintings. With hundreds of saw-toothed limestone pinnacles haphazardly poking up through the colorful terrain, this area of China will surely delight and inspire your imagination. Yangshuo is tourist friendly, with English widely spoken and plenty of affordable accommodations and restaurants along the pedestrian road Xi Jie, commonly identified as ‘Foreigner Street’. It’s easy to find a comfortable place to stay, with most of the guesthouses offering the same basic look. We found the perfect guesthouse at a great rate with a balcony overlooking the street, only to return home after dinner to find rats on the stairwell. Yech! Needless to say, we moved to our second choice, the lovely Rosewood Inn, where we ended up staying for ten days. One of the premiere activities is the spectacular fourteen-mile daylong hike along the Li River that connects the towns of Yangdi and Xingping. Cram into the miniature bus at the main bus station for the one-hour trip to Yangdi, pay a modest entrance fee of two dollars, hop on the ferry that crosses the river, and enjoy the path as it winds through the countryside. Wander by habitats and refreshment stands, where crooked old grandmas sell oranges and bags of peanuts and merchants barter polished river rocks, while villagers shout out offers of rides on homemade bamboo rafts. As we strolled along the Li River, I surveyed the limestone crags and struggled to match the names on the map with the appropriate rock face. The mysterious ‘Eight Super Naturals Crossing the River’, the humorous ‘Tortoise Climbing Up the Hill’, the obvious ‘Fish Tail Peak’, the evocative ‘Nine Horse Fresco Hill’ and my favorite, the imaginative ‘Grandpa Watching Apple’. The inventive surroundings transformed me into another world, where I expected at any time to stumble across Frodo and the fairy tale Hobbits as they waddled out of the Middle Kingdom to greet us on the well-worn path.There are many bike routes outside of town, with every hotel and guesthouse renting bicycles for a couple of bucks. One day, we embarked on the highly recommended 20-mile bike loop up the Yulong River to Dragon Bridge. We pedaled along paths muddied by recent rain, through neighborhoods colored with bright red lanterns snapping in the wind, past immaculate, well-tended gardens, and ponds teeming with plump catfish gulping for air. Farmers twisted homemade cigarettes and patiently waited in line with their leaky burlap bags of rice, as the merchant muscled the sacks unto rusty old scales, rebalanced the iron weights, and penciled in the amount. "Nee how, nee how," (Hello) we echoed to people on the path, as we balanced along the narrow causeways that separated the patchwork of paddies. Everywhere, vegetation draped peaks punctuated the horizon like a saw-toothed dragon asleep beneath the surface. Along the Li River, shorter bike routes led to the community of Fuli, famous for its handcrafted fans that decorate the many workshops. We cycled past hunched over farmers standing knee deep in muddy squares as the brilliant sun baked the atmosphere into a sweaty mugginess. Sluggish, dirt spattered water buffalo grunted along the trails as a comforting earthiness flavored the air. Stumped at a questionable fork in the trail, we leaned our bikes and rested in the shade. Soon a local arrived and we pointed down both paths, shrugged, and asked "Fuli?" Getting around the countryside is easy; just arrive at the busy bus station located in central Yangshuo, locate the sign for your destination, and squeeze on with the other passengers. Many of the routes leave at regularly scheduled times, while others may not depart until they have a full load. We jumped on a bus to Yueliang Shan (Moon Hill) for a couple of hours one day, where we scrambled to the top for spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. During the day, Yangshuo swarms with day-trippers from Guilin, five hours downriver. Arriving on the cavalcade of boats around noon, the tourists poke around town and leave by bus in early evening. One after another, the vessels churn up the river accompanied by a constant blaring from cheap speakers, as the tour guide points out rock formations along the way. Merchants line the walkways into town and offer cheap souvenirs as they disembark at the dock. Food choices range from dumplings to pizza. When dining, brazenly choose from the local menu, point to something that looks interesting at an adjoining table, or safely choose rice and noodles - it’s all an adventure and a riotous one at that. Our favorite was the affordably priced ‘Noodle Bar’, easily identified by the overflowing tables set in front, with huge portions of Chinese favorites served at a hectic yet organized pace. Curiously, bands of police patrolled the streets one day and forced all restaurants and vendors to move their displays and tables indoors - they felt they were blocking the walkways. The next day, the police disappeared and the tables and displays quickly returned to their original locations.Some of the coolest souvenirs are stone-carved stamps, where your last name is converted into Chinese characters and engraved into the rock. Quite a few shops in town offer this service, although we’d recommend going to the best – Huang Guan Hua Stone Engraving – where a master calligrapher will produce a memorable rendering of your name on a unique piece of stone for around $15. Around town, you’ll find innumerable Chairman Mao paraphernalia - posters, playing cards, clocks, and bags stamped with his image – still a popular and respected figure in Chinese history. Or, stock up on the latest DVDs, purchased from one of the many shadowy entrepreneurs who maintain their inventory in a daypack, and nervously glance about for local police. Getting to Yangshuo is easy; leaving is difficult. We both loved it and would have gladly stayed another week. To fully appreciate this intriguing area you should plan to spend more than a day and wander into the countryside, which is truly representative of rural China. After ten days, it was time for us to move on to other parts of China, although I would be quick to return, and enthusiastically give Yangshuo our highest recommendation. Having had such wonderful experiences in Yangshuo, one of my favorite U2 songs comes to mind – "Stay, Faraway, So Close." So many memorable scenes and impressions will stay with us fondly, and long after we leave, though faraway, it will remain close in our hearts and minds for years to come, the memories certain to bring a warm smile to our faces. Close
Written by DA_ve on 05 Aug, 2003
A short(ish) bicycle ride from Yangshuo is the small town of Fuli. To get here hire a bike and turn left out of West Street and follow the road towards the bridge over the Li Jiang and across it, cycle along this road for just…Read More
A short(ish) bicycle ride from Yangshuo is the small town of Fuli. To get here hire a bike and turn left out of West Street and follow the road towards the bridge over the Li Jiang and across it, cycle along this road for just under an hour (or less if you’re fit) and you will hit Fuli.
At first glance it doesn’t appear to be a particularly attractive town, however this is soon dispelled as all you have to do is turn right off the main road down one of the side streets and you hit old time China. This part of town is dominated by traditional wooden houses selling predominantly fans and slippers to tourists, great for a wonder. However, this is no Yangshuo and has a lot less tourists, but they do arrive sporadically by boat (mostly Chinese) and spread out into the town. Go relatively early to avoid them.
If you head down to the Li Jiang you will find a small restaurant in which you can get a drink or meal. Near the restaurant there are some fields that make for a very pleasant walk. I almost felt like I had entered the Garden of Eden while wandering around them, it was just all so green and with the surrounding river and karst peaks towering above it was beautiful.
Fuli also holds a market every three days (the 2nd, 5th 8th and so forth of each month), which is not at all for tourists making it all the more interesting. Here you can gawp at the produce or pick up some cheap and delicious noodles from one of the stalls. I highly recommend a trip to Fuli, it allows you to imagine what Yangshuo used to be like and ponder what Fuli could become in a few years.
Written by Lauren T on 01 May, 2002
A friend of mine, who nearly always travels business class, joking refers to economy class on major European Airlines as "cattle class". I always thought that this was a little harsh. After all, it's only a slightly smaller seat and a slightly less…Read More
A friend of mine, who nearly always travels business class, joking refers to economy class on major European Airlines as "cattle class". I always thought that this was a little harsh. After all, it's only a slightly smaller seat and a slightly less appetizing meal. I hardly feel like livestock when traveling second class.
However, unlike the European commercial aircraft, economy class conditions on Chinese long distance trains just may have lived up to the name "cattle class"
(except cattle are probably given a little more elbow room).
The 24-hour journey from Shanghai to Guilin was my first such "cattle class" adventure. I opted for second class at the suggestion of a friend who seemed to think that first class was a waste of money. Under normal circumstances, I would agree with him. To be honest, I never really understood why people would pay three times as much for a slightly more comfortable seat to sit in. These 24 hours in a Chinese cattle class sleeper car gave me new appreciation for the appeal of first class travel.
The compartment I shared with five other travelers couldn't have been more than sixty square feet. On each side of the compartment were three small bunks. I had the top bunk on the left. The bed was difficult to get into and when I finally did, it was impossible to make myself comfortable. The bed itself could not have been much more than eighteen inches wide and I had a comparable amount of space between my bunk and the ceiling. I am slightly claustrophobic so this really got to me. However, since there were already people in the two small seats at the other end of the compartment, I was pretty much confined to my bunk for the evening. Since sitting up was pretty much out of the question, I tried to adjust my body in a way that I could read my book better--with limited success. The lights went out at nine o'clock and, since I could no longer read, tried to sleep even though I wasn't tired.
I didn't sleep well that night. The car alternated several times throughout the evening between being unbearably hot and being unbearably cold--so I was constantly waking up due to uncomfortable temperatures and either piling on layers of blankets and sweaters or removing them.
However, I was able to obtain one of the seats on the other side of the cabin the next morning and eat my breakfast there. I had fortunately brought my own food. I cannot recommend this enough, since the food sold on the train is very expensive and looks VERY unappetizing. I have found that a few packages of instant ramen noodles (the kind that comes in it's own bowl) and a bag of oranges works well for a 24 hour trip. I enjoyed my breakfast since I could watch the Chinese countryside go past outside the window as I ate. After breakfast I watched out the window for a while and then read for a few hours from my seat. Then, either because it was somehow more comforatable or because I was so tired by this time that I didn't care, I took a nice long nap for most of the afternoon.
Needless to say, when we finally arrived in Guilin at eight o'clock that evening, I was eager to get off the train and stay put for a little while. So I must admit that I was a little irritated when the friend who met me at the station (he had arrived several days before) told me that he decided that he didn't like Guilin and had checked us into a hostel in Yangshuo--and the last bus to Yangshuo left in 10 minutes. (And the bus packed us in like sardines) However, since I had been in transport for 24 hours already, what was one more? I must say that I was more than relieved when we finally did arrive in Yangshuo and I could stay put for a short while.
So that was my first second-class long distance train journey in China. I would have sworn that I would have never done it again but, honestly, after the first time it's all uphill, and after I did it a couple of times, I actually started to like it. (Although I have to say that it makes a world of difference if you make sure to arrange yourself a bottom bunk. You can sit up on them comfortably and there is a small table next to it where you can eat your meals.)
Despite the grittiness and the claustrophobia, there is actually something interesting about it. You can see a lot of interesting things outside your window when you ride clear accross China and you meet (or at least observe) some of the most interesting people when you are forced to share such small quarters with so many people.
Written by jurgen on 14 Feb, 2001
On the second day of our visit to Yangshuo we did the river excursion to Xingping and Yangti; 3 hrs upstream from Yangshuo. The scenery near Xingping is even better than around Yangshuo. Great limestone formations rise up along the Li-river. People here make a…Read More
On the second day of our visit to Yangshuo we did the river excursion to Xingping and Yangti; 3 hrs upstream from Yangshuo. The scenery near Xingping is even better than around Yangshuo. Great limestone formations rise up along the Li-river. People here make a living out of growing rice, grain and fruits, and making gunpowder. Our first stop would be in the tine village of Xingping. The village has a nice entrance gate from the Li-river, the other buildings in the village are farms. From Xingoing we continued our boattrip to Yangti. This is a little town with some small shops and much more activity than in Xingping. Both villages are very poor though. After having visited the town of Yangti we spent some hours swimming in the Li-river. Despite of bilharsia warnings we did this anyhow... the heat was just too much. We did not get infected. Then we returned to Yangshuo. Close
Written by nmagann on 24 Feb, 2006
The Li River makes a sharp turn, and begins heading east in Yangshuo. We rented bicycles in the morning, and began riding on the main road that paralleled the river. Within 10 minutes, we were on a dirt bike path. Looking at…Read More
The Li River makes a sharp turn, and begins heading east in Yangshuo. We rented bicycles in the morning, and began riding on the main road that paralleled the river. Within 10 minutes, we were on a dirt bike path. Looking at the map we had, we were heading for Fuli. We came to a fork in the road, trying to decide which way to go when a family rode up behind us and asked which way to Fuli. He asked a Chinese man, and we all headed off towards the right. We found a nice view of the rice fields, stopped to take a picture and have a rest break. The family came rolling by and passed. We headed off only to pass them while they took a break. There was a small cemetery that was quite fascinating. A large structure made of thin wood and covered with paper, similar to a kite, was atop some of the tombs. The paper wasn’t anything unusual, much of it appeared to be like newspaper. We were trying to figure out what was on top of that structure when we discovered one in better condition, and realized it was a crane. Near the bottom of the tombs, we could tell that many fireworks had been lit. Some of the ones had obviously been there for a while and had fallen onto the ground. We knew the graves were not recent, so we wondered if the structures marked an anniversary—unfortunately, we will never know. While walking around the cemetery, they passed us again. Originally, we decided to ride for 4 hours and then turn around. When we noticed that they kept going, we figured they must know a shorter way back on the main road. We stopped at a cave along the side of the road. It went back a distance, but I would need a boat. We motioned for the family to come over. We talked with them and decided to have lunch in Liugong, some 20k from Yangshuo.On the way, there was a sign for Three Colored Ponds of Liugong. Each of the ponds is about 10 meters in diameter with a different color of water. One is dark green, another light blue, and the last aquamarine. The colors never change and the water levels never change, regardless of the Li River’s level, or during droughts.Liugong Village has over 800 years of history and some unique, old buildings, including the Moon Pavilion and Home of Senators. Natural sites include Dragon Boat Cave and Turtles Climbing to River. We walked around the buildings and had lunch. The family talked to the driver of the tourist boat to see if we could return with them. For 30Y, our bikes were loaded and we enjoyed another section of the Li River via boat. The boat took 1 ½ hours giving us 45 minutes to take the 5 minute walk to West Street, to return our bikes. Close
A very worthwhile trip from Yangshuo is the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces. These are easily reached by a long daytrip, best organized via one of the numerous travel agencies on West Street. The drive takes about two and a half hours in a fairly…Read More
A very worthwhile trip from Yangshuo is the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces. These are easily reached by a long daytrip, best organized via one of the numerous travel agencies on West Street. The drive takes about two and a half hours in a fairly comfortable mini bus, but is very much worth it for some of the most spectacular views of rice terraces you are ever likely to see. If you have the time though, I felt it would have been best to spend at least a night there so as not to have to rush, although the trip does give you enough time for a walk around the terraces and to be pestered by the locals who want to show you their hair (this isn’t as strange as it sounds!). The village of Ping’an where you end up is right on the terraces, and seems to be going though a bit a construction boom to accommodate the ever increasing tourist numbers, but at the moment it’s not too busy and the construction blends in nicely. From the village there are a couple of easy walks along the terraces to do, which offer stunning views. If you are staying longer from what I understand there’s plenty of other walks to keep you occupied. Apart from the terraces the local ethnic group called the Yao are interesting, and you’re sure to meet them as they attempt to sell you their trinkets. This trip is defiantly worth it to see another side of China, especially in such a stunning location. Close
Moon Hill a short cycle ride from Yangshuo makes for a pleasant ride. The hill itself has a hole in it that look like a moon, thus its name (you will come to notice in China that the Chinese love naming pieces of the landscape…Read More
Moon Hill a short cycle ride from Yangshuo makes for a pleasant ride. The hill itself has a hole in it that look like a moon, thus its name (you will come to notice in China that the Chinese love naming pieces of the landscape after objects or even obscure scenes, for example a rock could be called ‘a lion eating a ram’ or something like that).
The hill isn’t really that impressive itself, but the steep climb to the top offers some great views of the surrounding area. Be aware though of the hawkers that will try and sell you drinks, great if you’re thirsty but they can be very persistent, and don’t think climbing to the top will stop them! Much to my surprise after an exhausting climb I turned around to see the same women I tried to escape at the bottom offering me a Coke, which at this point was much appreciated.
A destination as scenic as Yangshuo is worth some more pictures than usual. So I added some more pictures here.. there was no more room for them in the other entries.
You can see from left to right:
-A boat in Xingping
-Butterflies on the beach of Xingping
A destination as scenic as Yangshuo is worth some more pictures than usual. So I added some more pictures here.. there was no more room for them in the other entries.
You can see from left to right:
-A boat in Xingping
-Butterflies on the beach of Xingping
-The 1500 year old bayantree near moonhill; believe it or not.. this is one tree
-A waterbuffalo in the streets on Yangshuo
We have heard about illegal boat operators on the Li River before we came here. So we booked a Li River cuise with the International Youth Hostel on West Street, thinking that the boat ride was legitimate. They told us to meet at dawn the…Read More
We have heard about illegal boat operators on the Li River before we came here. So we booked a Li River cuise with the International Youth Hostel on West Street, thinking that the boat ride was legitimate. They told us to meet at dawn the next morning. A van took seven or eight of us to this place (about 15 to 20 mintues away, near Xingping)next to the Li River. We got on the boat and cruised the river with sunrise as backdrop. It turned out that our boat was one of those illegal ones. As we were heading back, the boat operator got a call on his cell phone about the inspection at the dock and hurried us onto a sand bar on the other side of the river so that he wouldn't be caught with passagers and fined. Nobody from our boat was alarmed or concerned, we just laughed it off and hanged out on the sand bar in the middle of the river. Later, the boat operator paid the bamboo raft operators to take us back across the river and dropped us off not too far from the dock. We have no idea where we were, we followed the crowd and walked this long concrete path (through vegetable fields) back to the main street and found several vans waiting to take passagers back to Yangshuo for 2 yuan. And that conclude our Li River cuise and Xingping excursion.It was more exciting than I expected!!! Close