Daily Archives: October 4, 2014

a nighttime stroll through yangshuo

Saturday, October 4:  After our long bike ride and late lunch, I’m neither energetic nor hungry this evening.  I take a stroll around the town just as the sun sets and the streets light up.  I don’t do much except take pictures of some of the shop windows and then drop into a pretty little cafe for a mango juice.  That’s about all I’m hungry for after my lunch at Passion Fruit Leisure Farm.

Here are a few nighttime shots of the charming town of Yangshuo.

China's National Holiday: the crowds and the Chinese flags on Xianqian Jie

China’s National Holiday: the crowds and the Chinese flags on Xianqian Jie

Festive lanterns

Festive lanterns

Fruit juice anyone?

Fruit juice anyone?

a funky coffee shop on Xianqian Jie

a funky coffee shop on Xianqian Jie

more lanterns

more lanterns

Lanterns & Chinese calligraphy

Lanterns & Chinese calligraphy

Musicians are serenading people all through the town, mainly trying to sell their CDs.  Earlier I found a CD shop where the CDs look like old-fashioned records.  I bought a CD from that shop because I liked the music they were playing, and I asked for a copy of that particular music.  Chinese of course.

a little musical serenade

a little musical serenade

fruit stand

fruit stand

At this black T-shirt shop I can get a T-shirt with Chinese characters meaning Freak, Gangster, Crazy or Liar.

Black T-shirts

Black T-shirts

At one stand I can buy Yogurt mangoes juice, lemon juice, or Box Lemon Tea.

Fruits for sale

Fruits for sale

I follow the walkway into the Flower Cafe where I sit for a bit and drink a fresh mango juice.

Heading into the shop that has Flower into its name for a mango juice

Heading into the shop that has Flower into its name for a mango juice

Though the Treasure Island Fish Hot Pot restaurant is tempting, I’m not hungry enough to sample the food.

Chinese Hot Pot

Treasure Island Fish Hot Pot Restaurant

I would love to have a picture of myself wearing a conical hat. 🙂

Conical hats

Conical hats

Finally I return to the hotel where I sit in the outdoor cafe and have a Tsingtao beer.  While relaxing there, I have a chat with Vivian and her daughter.  Vivian speaks good English and has been teaching her daughter some English as well.  The little girl wants to show me what she’s learned.

Vivian and her daughter

Vivian and her daughter

I’ve made plans for tomorrow with Vivian, who works at the Yangshuo River View Hotel.  She’s going to take me on motorbike tour north of Yangshuo.  At first I’m thinking I’ll follow her on a separate motorbike, but it turns out she plans to have me ride on the back of hers.  That’s fine by me as I’m not sure I’d feel safe on these crowded roads driving one myself.

We’ve decided to meet at 10:30 in the morning for my tour, so I plan to sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast and then take off into the mountains with Vivian. 🙂

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Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Travel, West Street, Xi Jie, Yangshuo | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

a bicycle ride through the yangshuo countryside

Saturday, October 4:  My day starts with a message from Audrey on WeChat saying that she hasn’t got the strength to get out of bed yet, but if I am up, she’ll pull it together.  After our late night last night, I’m still in bed, unusual for me at 9 a.m.  I respond, Maybe I’ll go down and have some breakfast, and then take a quick shower.  How about if we aim for 10:30 or so?  She, obviously feeling more energetic than I do, says, No shower! let’s go get dim sum!  She asks if I packed a bathing suit, which I didn’t.  She says she’ll be over to my hotel shortly.

I throw on some clothes and head down to the lobby, where she shows up momentarily and we head down Yangshuo’s main street.  Sadly we find that the dim sum restaurant she knows of is no longer serving dim sum.  Instead we head to another restaurant for a Western breakfast.

We return to my hotel where I rent a bicycle for the day for 20 yuan ($3.24), and we head out of town.  We ride through traffic for a while.  After all, there’s no way to escape the crowds unless we get away from Yangshuo.

Finally, the traffic starts to thin out and we stop for a second to enjoy the view of the beautiful karst scenery beside a coffee shop.  A cute little lady approaches and tries to sell us wreaths of flowers that girls buy to wear on their heads like a crown.  I don’t want the wreath but I do ask if I can take a picture.  I give her a yuan for her time. She’s adorable. 🙂

Chinese lady selling flower wreaths

Chinese lady selling flower wreaths

I take some more pictures of my great hostess and guide, Audrey, as well as a little canal and bridge, the farmland and the karsts.

Audrey and her bicycle

Audrey and her bicycle

Me and bicycles

Me and my bicycle

bridge and canal

bridge and canal

We continue on our bicycles and come upon this charming scene at Dragon Bridge, which crosses the Yulong River.  A flotilla of bamboo boats with rainbow-colored umbrellas is floating down the river.

a flotilla of colorful boats scurrying down the river

a flotilla of colorful boats cruising down the river

There’s a bustle of activity as a group of men load the boats on a truck.  I stand on Dragon Bridge and Audrey takes a picture of me.  I wave to some rafters who pass under the bridge.

Click on any of the photos below for a full-sized slide show.

We continue past the bridge into the heart of the farmland.  Audrey points out the rice fields and other crops, about which she’s been learning during her time in China.  I love the yellow grains of rice framing the jagged peaks.

Rice fields and karsts

Rice fields and karsts

Rice fields outside of Yangshuo

Rice fields outside of Yangshuo

farmland

farmland

yellow grains of rice

yellow grains of rice

We get off the paved road onto a dirt trail that meanders prettily through the fields, where hay is stacked into cute little bundles resembling the karst landscape.

haystacks and karsts

haystacks and karsts

haystacks mirror the karst landscape

haystacks mirror the karst landscape

We catch some glimpses of people drifting peacefully down the Yulong River.

a glimpse of some private rafters

a glimpse of some solitary rafters

We come to the edge of the Yulong River, where some people and their bamboo boat are stuck on a dam.  Audrey trots off to help them move it after taking a brief phone call.

Audrey wades along the dam to help the bamboo boat in distress

Audrey wades along the dam to help the bamboo boat in distress

While she’s helping the boaters, I enjoy the beautiful scenery.

The Yulong River away from the crowds

The Yulong River away from the crowds

a less-touristy part of the Yulong River

a less-touristy part of the Yulong River

Audrey has gotten her shoes wet by wading out into the river.  I say my tennis shoes are the only ones I’ve brought on my holiday, so I don’t want to get them wet.  As we continue our ride, Audrey tells me how she’s learned to live with very few possessions here in China.  She says she only owns two pairs of shoes.  We agree that people in America have too many possessions and that actually we can live comfortably with very little.

We see a rural Chinese house with the top floor unfinished and Audrey tells me that many people don’t finish the top floors of their houses because once the top floor is finished, the house is taxed.  A lot of people never finish their top floors and can avoid taxation indefinitely.

Rural Chinese houses

Rural Chinese houses

fields of hay

fields of hay

haystacks and mountainstacks

haystacks and mountainstacks

farmland

farmland

hay mountains and karst mountains

hay mountains and karst mountains

We take off on another dirt trail.  This time, I stop to take a picture of more haystacks, and Audrey zips by me. She says, “I’m going ahead.  Just keep going till the trail ends!” She disappears.

the bicycle trail through the fields

the bicycle trail through the fields

a motorbike in its element

a motorbike in its element

More haystacks

More haystacks

Finally I come to some ruins.  Beside them is Audrey’s bike, but there is no sign of Audrey.  I follow a bend in the trail to find her stuff lying in the grass, and she’s floating out in the middle of the Yulong River.  “Come on in!” she says.

ruins near the Yulong River where we stop for a swim

ruins near the Yulong River where we stop for a swim

Of course I don’t have a bathing suit, but there isn’t a soul in sight and Audrey says, “Just swim in your underwear!”  I’m so hot and that water looks so refreshing that I don’t hesitate.  I pull off my clothes and dive in.  We float for quite a while and no one at all comes down the river or to the river’s edge.  We honestly have this little spot in China all to ourselves!  There is some hope in this country of over a billion people of finding a little solitude.  From the middle of the river, the view downriver is magnificent, but of course I don’t dare carry my camera into the water to take a picture. 🙂

When we finally get out, I put my clothes back on over my soaking wet underwear.  In minutes even my clothes become drenched.  Oh well, it’s warm enough that they’ll dry in no time.  We continue on our bike ride, at which time we pass a Western guy wandering down to the river with a towel in his hand.  A few minutes more and he would have found us there, and I would have been embarrassed to get out!

We come upon a pretty scene of a new hotel that Audrey says reminds her of an English cottage in the countryside.

a little English cottage in China

a little English cottage in China

We ride through a small town where we see taro drying on a roof and an old mud brick home.

taro drying on a roof

taro drying on a roof

old mud brick house

old mud brick house

We pass by some cute little towns nestled up against the karsts.

a little town nestled into the karts

a little town nestled into the karts

town sheltered by karst

town sheltered by karst

a cute little bridge through the town

a cute little bridge through the town

We also pass some cute hotels in the countryside: The Tea Cozy, the Outside Inn, and The Giggling Tree.  We drop into The Giggling Tree to see what it’s like.   Now that I’ve stayed in town and have somewhat figured out the lay of the land, I think I might like to stay at one of these countryside hotels next time I’m in Yangshuo.

Click on any of the photos below for a full-sized slide show.

Continuing further down the paved road, we come to the beautiful Yangshuo Mountain Retreat, where we can see the bamboo boats floating down the river.  I’ll end up taking this route in a bamboo boat myself on Monday morning before I return to Nanning that evening.

Yangshuo Mountain Retreat

Yangshuo Mountain Retreat

Audrey tells me this hotel has hot tubs on the balconies.  Sounds perfectly lovely, but I wonder what the prices are.

the Yulong River in front of the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat

the Yulong River in front of the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat

Yulong River boats

Yulong River boats

Yangshuo Mountain Retreat

Yangshuo Mountain Retreat

We head down another winding road where the traffic is picking up.  We stop to take a picture of this cozy little valley.  You wouldn’t know it from this picture, but this is a busy place where little yellow tour buses are buzzing through at breakneck speed.

cozy little valley

cozy little valley

Finally we head back to town.  Along the way, we cross over a bridge from which we can see bamboo rafts on the Yulong River coming in to drop off passengers.

View of the Yulong River from another bridge downriver from Dragon Bridge

View of the Yulong River from another bridge downriver from Dragon Bridge

Audrey has promised to take me to the Passionfruit Leisure Farm for lunch. By the time we finally reach here, we’re famished.  We start with an ice-cold passion fruit drink, and then Audrey proceeds to order a delicious meal, which includes egg and tomato and green beans, and honestly I can’t remember what else because we gobble it down so quickly!  I don’t even remember to stop to take a picture of the food.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the arbor under which we eat lunch at Passion Fruit Leisure Farm

the arbor under which we eat lunch at Passion Fruit Leisure Farm

an ice cold Passion Fruit drink

an ice-cold Passion Fruit drink

During lunch my nose starts to bleed and it just won’t stop.  I feel perfectly fine, but I use up a bunch of tissues, making for a pretty unappetizing scene.  I don’t know what is wrong with me.  I do tend to get nosebleeds from time to time, but they usually don’t last this long.

Finally, after leaving the Passion Fruit Farm, we cross over another bridge with a view of the river.

on the way back to Yangshuo

on the way back to Yangshuo

It’s a pretty harried ride back into town because cars, motorbikes, carts, bicycles and pedestrians are clogging up the roads and making it hard to move anywhere.  We do make it back eventually.  Audrey heads home and I return to my hotel where I take a nice hot shower and take a little nap.  It’s around 4:00 by the time we return to town.

What a delightful day!  I don’t know which day is my favorite, the day of the Li River Raft trip or this one!  They’re both so much fun in different ways.  I’m so thankful to Audrey for taking me on this bike trip, because I would have never had this much fun alone, or with a tour group.

Later, around twilight, I take a walk around town and take a lot of pictures as the lights come on and the sun goes down.

If you want to know about bike routes around Yangshuo, here are a few websites that have some good ideas:

Travel China Guide: Yangshuo Bicycle Route

Plan to China: Yangshuo Bicycle Routes

Categories: Asia, Bicycle tour, China, Dragon Bridge, Expat life, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin, National Holiday, The Giggling Tree, Travel, Yangshuo, Yangshuo Mountain Retreat, Yulong River | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

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