Home > Guilin, Yangshou > The Mountains and The River

The Mountains and The River

Our second destination was Guilin, which in essence was a bland, busy, bustling Chinese city set against a backdrop of monstrous mountains, and dominated by the tranquil Li River running through it. The city itself was not much to write home about. It had bars, cafes, neon lights and huge entrance fees waiting for the coach load upon coach load of Chinese tourist groups that seem to arrive by the minute. So we hired some bikes with no breaks and metal objects sticking out of the seat to escape the city for the surroundings. As we made our way further and further away from the city centre the crowds dispersed and we found ourselves alone navigating the barren roads that twisted around the monsters. They seemed to rise violently out of the ground, only to fall straight back down again. They were like nothing we had ever seen before; they appeared surreal and alien, like they were made for a fantasy film and misplaced around Guilin.
We left Guilin by motorised bamboo raft for Yangshou. We travelled slowly down the River Li which divided the mountainous landscape. The water was soft and calming. I sat at the front and dangled my feet in the water whilst Carl snapped away with his Cannon at the mountains around us. There were three others on our raft, a kiwi, a french girl and a Chinese guy who translated what the driver was saying for us. Most of the time the driver was pointing out shapes in the rocks that looked slightly like horses or dragons or cats. This seems to be a convention of Chinese tour guides or drivers. On a later tour of the Yangshou water caves we’d been alerted to rocks that looked like thumbs, buddhas, and oddly walls. We were forced by our British sense of politeness to ‘oooo’ at a rock that looked like a wall.
Despite this random pointing at shapes that may or may not have looked like animals the raft ride was very tranquil and relaxing. Although I did wish for a pillow for my bamboo seat; especially after the previous days bike ride. We were then shovelled off the raft and onto was can only be described as a cross between a tuk tuk, a golf buggy and an open top mini bus, which took us up a small, steep road to another mini bus which would take us to Yangshou.
The centre of Yangshou itself it a touristy affair, filled with souvenir shops, Western eateries, discotechs and a few naughty nudy places. But the scenery that surrounds the town and its position right on the bank of the River Li is spectacular, and it’s easy to see why the small town has become such a popular destination for both Western and Chinese tourists. Guilins mountains were a backdrop, in the background of city life. But Yangshou is a town completely enclosed within the leering mountains. The river has a grassy island where buffalo and horses grazed, and locals hung out on under the shade of the rocky banks. Despite its commercialised city centre, the town somehow felt more real, and more respectful and in awe of its surroundings than Guilin. The hostel we stayed in, Yangshou 11 Hostel, had a roof top bar – the highest in Yangshou. We sat with some fellow Londoners and chatted about life in China, and the different habits of the Chinese compared to the English sense of manners. In China it’s ok to spit, fart, burp and wear Kappa.
Later in the evening Carl and I walked down the river taking pictures of the town in the dark. The mountains surrounding Yangshou were lit up tastefully with spotlights, and across the river we caught the nightly light show that lit up different mountains one by one using red, blue, green and white lights. You’re supposed to pay to watch the show from an ‘optimum’ position, but we had a great view of it for free!

  1. Uncle G.
    June 27, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    A great read, Niece H.

    Has the veggie bus broken down?

    I want more!

    Uncle G.

    P.S. Will you ever respond to any comments?

  2. cockmans
    June 29, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    The veggie bus has been busy sampling the Tibetan veggie cuisine! I’m glad that you’re excited about the launch. There will be a launch party – in Nepal, July 30th. We’re preparing the carrots as we speak!

    We have stuff ready to go on the blog but we’ve been without internet for the last week or so (also without hygiene) and now have a rubbish connection – damn mountains – so will be updating when we’re back in the city which should be in the next few days. xxx

    P.S. Eh… see… response.

    • Uncle G.
      July 7, 2010 at 4:56 am

      Good news, I like carrots.

      But those lack of hygiene stories…yuk! But fascinating reading. You both write really well.

      Uncle G.

      P.S. Just started the ESL teaching job I wanted. I told the class about your travels today.

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