Yummy Yangshuo - 25th July 2008 @ 2:56 pm «   »

Location: China, Guangxi Province : Yummy Yangshuo

Rolling into Yangshuo on Thursday afternoon, it was clear that this was going to be a much better experience than Guilin. The town is much smaller and really is set snugly amongst the massive rocky karst hills.

After sniffing around a few places for about 30mins we checked into the friendly Flowers Hostel, just west of the central part of town. It wasn’t long before we slapped on the sun-screen and started exploring – it’s getting hotter the further south we go.

We walked down a few of the well-known touristy streets before we got to the Li River, where Marizanne skillfully haggled a cheap bamboo boat ride from one of the locals. This part of the river is packed and we were but one of many little bamboo rafts motoring their way northwards in the direction of Guilin. We stopped off about 3km up stream and were each offered a small, spicy, bbq’d whole fish on a stick by our captain – very nice indeed, with heads & all.

The 40 minute cruise concluded where we had started on the ‘waterfront’ back in town, completing a thoroughly enjoyable little trip. The 20 Yuan we forked out for this seemed much more reasonable than the 450 Y they we charging for the pleasure of cruising all the way to Yangshuo from Guilin.. that’s why we took the bus for 16 Y each!

We continued strolling and window-shopping the many stalls and shops. Touts here are much more aggressive than we’ve experienced elsewhere in China and their persistence often makes for a less enjoyable interaction – but that’s just their style. We picked a restaurant ‘not’ advertising western food – not easy to find – and after flipping swiftly through the horse and dog meat specialities went with a beer-fish dish for 2. Beerfish is a local speciality, and as such is a little more pricy then the average dish, but it was well worth the extra few bob.

Moving further south have also steadily brought on more and more exotic dishes along the way. Menu entries like dog meat shavings, dog meat hot-pot and pictures of sad-looking Rottweilers aren’t even catching our eye anymore.. scary!

We woke up relatively early this morning to a perfect day. Renting a couple of bikes from the hostel (these ones actually had gears!) we set off on a carefully planned route. We made a couple of wrong turns but made our way past the Big Banyon Tree (not worth the entry fee) and Moon Hill. Being pestered by super-persistent old ladies selling water, we made our way up the steps to Moon Hill, which has a massive arch-like crater through the middle of it. It was around noon when the day started to really heat up and we realised that we had to hydrate or die..

We had a very nice and brief sit-down lunch at a cafe at the base of Moon Hill and then were on our way again. Backtracking a bit we then started on a path along the Yulong River, one of the Li’s attributaries, and this is where the scenery really started to live up to expectations. Cycling amongst lush green, towering hills stretching out as far as the eye could see, made us feel a million miles away from everything at times. Unfortunateley it was getting seriously hot and we were so drained that it often seemed an absolute mission just to get the camera out the bag to take a few shots. The camera was actually malfunctioning a few times because of the heat.

To our dismay the paved road running next to the river soon turned to gravel and it steadily got worse as we went along. It was around a certain point – at which we had had just about enough of the self-inflicted pain and started considering turning back – that we realised we had already passed the point of no return and turning back was actually the slightly longer way home than simply pushing on. We we trying to look on the bright side, thinking that we were past the half-way mark, but it was difficult to see through the salt-encrusted sweat layers on our sun glasses.

Stopping off at various picturesque spots along the way and quite often just pausing in the shade of a tree to try and break the extreme heat, we completed a large loop bringing us back onto the main road for the final 6km-odd into town. With the quality of maps around here it’s futile to try and estimate the distance covered (nothing too serious actually), but we had been riding for just under 7 hours.

Perhaps a couple of hours short of heat-stroke, and with extremely sore bums we struggled up to our 4th floor room in the Hostel and enjoyed lengthy cold showers and cold drinks in the comfort of our air-conditioned room.

We feel it especially appropriate at this point in our trip to make an honerable mention  and give thanks to the late Mr Willis Haviland Carrier, considered to be the father of the modern air conditioning system. Sir, we salute you.

If you can’t see the slideshow above click here.

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