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

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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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38 thoughts on “a bicycle ride through the yangshuo countryside

  1. A terrific blog, Kat. I would love to have a long, lazy meal at that Passion Fruit Leisure place.

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    • That Passion Fruit Place was great, Dai. I’m sure if you came to visit in Yangshuo, we could get Audrey or someone else there to find it for us. We’d just have to use the Pleco translation app! It was really lovely, although surprisingly right alongside a busy road. 🙂

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      • Kat it makes such a difference when it’s not raining. During my first visit to Yangshuo it was wet throughout and that really messed up the trip. On my second visit the weather was great but my feet and legs were sore from walking so much while touring. The third time I visited Guilin I arrived by air from Haikou and we were hurrying to get back to Kunming for the return flight to Bangkok. So we skipped Yangshuo. Then we missed the train in Guilin Bei Station way out of town. You know about that already

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      • Dai, sorry about your less than stellar experience in Yangshuo. Sometimes I think it’s just not meant to be to have a great trip to certain location. I’ve had that situation, disappointing weather or other problems, and it’s frustrating, but it can’t be helped. I’ve tried to learn not to get too disappointed in my travels. I figure I’ll see what I see, and I can’t always see everything I want. I’m happy to be able to travel at all. Think of all the people in the world who can’t afford to go anywhere. I’ve had times when my legs have been just too tired to see that “one more thing,” and so I’ve missed it. It is very disappointing, but I try to give myself an attitude adjustment when it happens. 🙂

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      • Kat, when such things happen and I miss places, it doesn’t worry me at all. A few hours in my hotel is fine. I read, wash my clothes, drink tea, watch TV and I never feel bad or disappointed. I missed the Terracotta Warriors because of heavy rain in Xi’an but there was an internet cafe across the road and I spent some happy hours there. In the evening we had a real splurge in Xi’an Station restaurant and had some beers too so that made up for missing the warriors. Most people would have been so disappointed but it never worried me in the slightest.

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      • You have a great attitude, Dai. Sometimes we can take pleasures in those moments of down-time while traveling. I enjoy so much stopping at cafes in my travels and having a beer or a glass of wine and just watching the people walk by. Having a splurge and a beer at a good restaurant is always an antidote for a rainy day while traveling!

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      • That’s right, Kat. I enjoy those down times because I can get a good rest from travelling. That’s what I am, a traveller. I make a pretty bad tourist. I don’t like many tourist things like art galleries, museums and I never read any history about where I’m visiting. Whoever is backpacking with me can go off for hours to museums etc and I’ll take that ice cold beer and people watch. All that aside, I really have travelled substantially over the years.

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      • I like how you differentiate between a traveler and a tourist, Dai. I do think there is a difference. I do read a lot about a place before I go, but not necessarily the history. I like to read novels that are set in a place, or first hand accounts like the Killing Fields in Cambodia. I never care much for museums much on my travels. 😉

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  2. China??? Wow! I am impressed, quite an adventure!

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  3. Wonderful photos, Cathy. What a great place for a cycle trip. You saw so much beauty. The flower lady is truly lovely. What a portrait! The river boats with the colourful umbrellas are a beautiful sight. Fabulous post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Sylvia, I loved that bicycle tour so much! I loved that little lady too; she gave me the biggest smile for my photo! I loved the river boats and the umbrellas too. The scene reminded me of the hot-air balloons at Cappadocia. There’s beauty in the sheer number of them. 🙂

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  4. Again, the colors! This looks like it was an especially memorable day, a treasure for the memory books.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  5. Such spectacular photos! I cannot understand how those rafts do not tip over with people on them, life jackets and those amazingly colourful umbrellas! Incredible! Your photos are taking the place of the trip to China I will never take. And for this I thank you!

    Strange about the nose bleed, though!

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    • I don’t have any idea how those boats don’t tip over, Mona Lisa! I love the colorful array of them on the river with the karst backdrop. I’m glad you’re enjoying coming along with me vicariously. 🙂

      Who knows why I had that nose bleed. I really wonder sometimes if there’s a problem I should look into, or if I should just keep blundering on. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You definitely liked those boats! I liked the photo of the Chinese lady – a lovely portrait.

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  7. oh wow your own private spot in China – who would have guessed! Are you serious about the top storey tax? what happens if you set out to build a single story dwelling – do you get taxed on it because it has been completed? Sounds like you guys had a lot of fun – a bicycle is the best way to explore an area!

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  8. It is SO beautiful, Cathy! 🙂 I’m glad you’ve found such a nice companion. Someone to share a laugh with. Worth the hassle and the work, hon. Have a good week!

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    • Jo, I’m so glad you like the countryside in Guilin. See, everyone thought I was crazy for coming to China, but look how pretty it is! 🙂 It was great to have Audrey as a companion. She was lots of fun. 🙂

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  9. Pingback: a rainy day bicycle ride in yangshuo « catbird in china

  10. What a difference the sun makes to a journey. How disappointed you must be that Mike did not see this beautiful scenery in a better light. This day with Audrey sounds so much fun. Thanks for the link…

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    • Thanks for checking it out, Pauline. That ride with Audrey was so much fun. I really wanted to replicate it with Mike, but it wasn’t remotely the same. Oh well, it was sad for him that he didn’t get to really enjoy his time here.

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  11. Pingback: a rainy day bicycle ride in yangshuo | catbird in china

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