Our group decided to make the trip down the River Li to Yangshuo, a picturesque town south of Guilin. The “Bamboo rafts” for the trip were actually plastic, shaped to look like bamboo, but left bright blue. There were loads of rafts making the trip, at the beginning it was hard to see anything else. I ended up in a boat with three young Chinese guys, there were brief smatterings of conversation but mainly deer-caught-in-the-headlights type interactions.
The day was hazy so again, the pictures aren’t the best, but the haze made everything much more mystical looking.
We saw the place on the 20yuan note and XingPing, which was billed as a “Traditional old village” but was still under construction, and then got the bus into Yangshuo itself. It is a very pretty town, at least the district we were staying in. We went swimming in the River Lee, then had goose intestines and chicken’s feet for dinner, along with some more recognisable stuff. The intestines and feet were surprisingly edible, but not exactly good either. There’s a lot of food that I miss or crave from China, but these were never on the list.
We wandered around the pedestrian street and sat in a rooftop bar with a cool view of the mountains all lit up and played card games until the wee hours. Yangshuo is definitely the hottest, most humid place I’ve been so far in China. We ended up staying an extra night because we wanted to rent bikes and explore some more. It was lashing all morning, but after some complicated, extensive negotiations trying to rent some bikes it had cleared up and we left. There were no gears on the bikes and the staff thought we were absolutely mad when we mentioned helmets as no-one ever needs helmets apparently. So we left without them, and after briefly getting lost we cycled the 15km to half-moon hill, so-called because of the semicircular hole through it. 800 steps to the top, but all in shade thankfully.
Then we went home by the river, passing lotus farms and water buffalo. Jacqueline spoke fluent Chinese and everyone kept mistaking her for our tour guide. People in the street kept giving out to her when we asked for directions saying she wasn’t a very good tour guide if she didn’t know. They wouldn’t believe that she was a tourist too.
At dinner there were loads of people wandering around the streets with instruments and speakers in trolleys, busking and playing requests for people in restaurants, but they were obnoxiously loud. After a few drinks we decided to order one dish of dog meat between us all. It was okay, lots of bone and gristle though.
We started going our separate ways then, with a few of us going back to Guilin to collect our bags and meet our connecting trains to the next spot. Overall Guilin and Yangshuo have been some of the bet bits of this trip so far.