a cloudy day boat ride down the li river

Wednesday, January 28:  We go through a bit of an ordeal with our guide Esther today.  She has lured us into a boat ride down the Li River for a lower price than our hotel offers. She says she has connections.  I don’t understand how she can give us a better deal than the hotel, as the boat operators on the river charge generally the same prices, so she must be getting a deal on the transportation to the boat launch in Xingping and back.  She has already told us that the ride will be upriver from Xingping to Yangdi (east to west), and I told her I wanted the ride downriver from west to east, from Yangdi to Xingping.  This is the way I did it in October.  What’s so amazing about the downriver direction is that you end up in Xingping, where the jagged mountains are clustered together in such a fantastical array that a painting of them graces the 20 yuan bill.

Esther leads us through the streets to different spots, where she stops and looks all around for some mysterious person who’s supposed to show up.  She’s on the phone the whole time.  I still don’t like that she won’t guarantee the downriver boat ride, and she’s not telling us any details about who we’re going with.  She’s not planning to come along with us, and she’s being generally evasive.  As we move from one spot on the street to the other, with her on the phone yapping in Chinese and looking all around impatiently, I start to lose it.

I say, “Esther, you’ve had since yesterday to plan this!  How much longer will it be?” She keeps pacing up and down, searching for some vehicle that never materializes, and she has no answers.  Finally, I get fed up.  “I’m sorry, Esther.  You’ve had since yesterday to arrange this and you still don’t have it arranged!  We’re going back to the hotel.”

We walk away and leave her on the street, still talking on the phone.  Nearby, we stop into a travel agent, and we arrange the boat ride for the same price Esther was offering.  It seems however, that the downriver route is not available and the only way to go is from Xingping upriver a bit, but not all the way to Yangdi, and then returning to Xingping.  I guess the Li River must be lower at this time of year.  We pay the travel agent for the trip, wait about 20 minutes in the agent’s office, and then hop on a bus for the nearly one hour drive to Xingping.

On the bus, I’m squeezed in next to a Chinese lady who speaks excellent English.  She’s here in Yangshuo for the Spring Festival holiday with her husband and daughter.  She tells me her English name is Julia.  We have a long conversation about our holidays and her life in her hometown.  When we get to the boat launch, it ends up we all five share a bamboo raft together.

At the boat launch - waiting and waiting

At the boat launch – waiting and waiting

For some unknown reason, we have to wait quite a long time at the boat launch.  There are some boats lingering about, but no one seems to be manning them. Things are so much more disorganized than when I took this boat ride in October: a raft trip down the li river: yangdi to xingping

Finally, after at least a half-hour wait, we get on the boat with the lovely Chinese family.  We agree with the Chinese family that we’ll start in the front seat, which offers the best views, but we’ll switch places with them from time to time.  Sadly, the views today are not great anyway.  It’s a dark and cloudy day, but at least so far it isn’t raining.  We find out quickly that it’s quite cold on the river, with the cold wind and the spray from the river, and we realize we haven’t dressed warmly enough.

the Li River

the Li River

the boat launch at the Li River

the boat launch at the Li River

a dark day on the Li River

a dark day on the Li River

the cloudy Li River

the cloudy Li River

a river surrounded by karst landscape

a river surrounded by karst landscape

the Li River

the Li River

mysterious mountains

mysterious mountains

trees and karsts

boats, trees and karsts

For yet another day of our holiday, I’m disappointed in the dreary charcoal skies and the fog that nearly obscures our view.

a dark day on the Li River

a dark day on the Li River

the Li River

the Li River

the Li River

the Li River

The boat driver makes a stop at a little island where people are selling handicrafts, but none of us wants to buy anything.  While we wander about, the Chinese girl spends her time throwing heavy stones into the river.  Meanwhile, the boat driver sits with his friends and eats a snack.  We take turns taking pictures of each other.

our Chinese companions

our Chinese companions

Mike and I on the Li River

Mike and I on the Li River

It’s so funny, Julia reminds me so much of my Korean friend Julie.  Even her haircut is similar: my two closest korean friends

me with the Chinese girls

me with the Chinese girls

We pass on the opportunity to ride this little pony.

a ride on a pony, anyone?

a ride on a pony, anyone?

Finally, when our boat driver finishes eating his snack and chatting with his friends, we’re on our way again.

back on the boat

back on the boat

a boat with a view

a boat with a view

Soon after we get back on the boat, it starts to spit rain.  This continues for the rest of our ride.  Argh!!!!

Me, mother & daughter, and Mike on the bamboo raft

Me, mother & daughter, and Mike on the bamboo raft

heading down the Li River

heading down the Li River

Li River

Li River

Li River

Li River

Li River

Li River

continuing down the river

continuing down the river

more picturesque views

more picturesque views

another boat on the river

another boat on the river

beach

beach

one of the larger boats for the Li River Cruise

one of the larger boats for the Li River Cruise

the Li River

the Li River

The Li River

The Li River

mother and daughter

mother and daughter

on the Li River

on the Li River

Li River views

Li River views

the Li River looking out over the end of our bamboo raft

the Li River looking out over the end of our bamboo raft

Cruising down the Li River

Cruising down the Li River

By the time we finish our ride, we’re all shivering and wet from the rain and the spray from the river.  We squeeze into the bus again and ride back to Yangshuo.  We go back to the hotel to rest and get warm and dry for a while before we head out to dinner at Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant.

The restaurant has two huge wooden sliding doors at the front.  Mike doesn’t realize they’re sliding doors and he pushes one of them inward, lifting both of them dangerously into the air.  He realizes belatedly what he’s done and he steps back, letting the doors clunk back into place.  Meanwhile the people in the restaurant run to the front to stop him from knocking down the two huge doors.  They’re so heavy that they probably would have crushed him if he had knocked them off their tracks.  He causes quite a stir!

at Pure Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant

at Pure Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant

Luckily after dinner the rain has abated so we take a short walk around the town again.  We run across some funny characters in the street.

characters on the streets of Yangshuo

characters on the streets of Yangshuo

We decide to warm up a bit in Mango by sharing a refreshing mango and ice cream dessert.  It’s really yummy, but that ice cream makes us shiver all the way back to our hotel.

Mike at Mango sharing his mango dessert

Mike at Mango sharing his mango dessert

the walls at Mango

the walls at Mango

Inside Mango

Inside Mango

We get cozy again in our hotel and read a long while.  There’s never anything on TV to watch as all the shows are in Chinese.  After our day on the river, we’re both feeling really sick, with coughs, sore throats, runny noses and general head colds and shivers.  We can see the forecast for tomorrow is for rain all day.  We decide that if it is actually raining, we will get massages in the morning and just stay in our hotel room for most of the day, trying to recover from our miserable colds.

 

 

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Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin, Li River, Pure Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant, Rosewood Cafe, Travel, West Street, Xi Jie, Yangdi, Yangshuo, Yangshuo River View Hotel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

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29 thoughts on “a cloudy day boat ride down the li river

  1. You are a hardy soul. One look at that river and I’d have turned back!

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    • I have a lot of determination, Jude. You will see that the next day, we did stay in the hotel all day, after some nice massages. 🙂

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      • Sometimes it is good to relax. We always seem to rush around on holidays sight-seeing in the area as much as possible, until a couple of years ago when I took my foot off the pedal and realised that just lazing around for the odd day, getting up late, reading in the garden, enjoying the sun and the birdsong or pottering around locally were just as valid ways to spend a holiday.

        Liked by 1 person

      • How right you are, Jude. However, puttering around and reading “in the garden” as you say is a lot better than being cooped up in a hotel room because of rain. 🙂

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      • Yeh, that’s boring. I had a day like that in Lisbon and hated it, not even a decent restaurant in the hotel. I should have just taken a taxi to a museum or something, but didn’t think of that until it was too late.

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      • Yes, it is really boring. And worse, you just feel trapped. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      • Did you feel under pressure to entertain Mike? Were you more relaxed travelling with your son? Or do you think your mood was solely caused by the weather and then the illness, you didn’t spend much time recovering between the two trips and seemed happier straight away.

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      • Hey Jude, I didn’t really feel under pressure to entertain Mike. He really did enjoy the cultural experience, and he was happy to just hang out with me. However, although I didn’t feel pressure from HIS side to entertain him, I did put the pressure on myself, as I really wanted him to have a good holiday and a good experience of China. There really are some lovely places here and I wanted him to enjoy them as I have so far. I was very frustrated by the weather, and we both really did get sick. It’s no fun to be sick under any circumstances, especially when traveling.

        As far as traveling with Alex, it was great to have him along, and we had some nice mother-son bonding, but he sometimes can be a little moody and he didn’t care for the touristy and crowded nature of China. I think he was expecting, or hoping for, something more like Oman, I think. I don’t know where he got that expectation. He had visited Korea before, so I would have thought he’d have expected something more like that.

        The weather had a huge negative affect on my mood, plus Mike and I rested on the last several days of our holiday, so I felt a little more energetic by the time Alex arrived. I still wasn’t well for a while though, so I drank a lot of hot water and some kind of herbal Chinese tea every night and rested a lot. I also tried to stay bundled up against the cold.

        To be perfectly honest, the least stress I had was when I went on my way alone to Myanmar. I’m a person who enjoys her alone time, and when I travel alone, I can deal with anything, rest or go whenever I feel like it, and not feel like I have to worry about anyone else’s happiness. I’d say I still love solo travel. 🙂

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      • I can understand all that. I feel responsible when we go away to make sure the OH has a good time as it is me who instigates and organises the ‘going away’. I much prefer it when I am on my own though and can do as I please – go out, stay in, get up late, eat when I like – I loved it being in my son’s flat in Sydney whilst he and his partner were away. You and I are very much alike.

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      • I’m glad to see someone else enjoys traveling solo, Jude. Many people I meet in my travels often say to me: “Oh (I assume they mean, “oh poor you!”), you’re all by yourself?” With a look of sympathy on their faces. I have to say, I find it totally relaxing not to have to worry about what someone else wants to do, or what their mood is. I guess I’m pretty selfish that way. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I guess a lot of it is to do with whether you enjoy your own company. I do. I am very happy being on my own. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy meeting new people when I’m travelling and having a chat, as I do, but there’s no expectations. Just mutual interest / or not!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m really, really hoping that you get (had!) some nice weather soon

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  3. Gloom and more gloom! I feel more and more sorry for Mike 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Poor you guys!! Taking a day off to stay warm and recover sounds like a good idea though I know for you it will be considered a day wasted. Sometimes on holidays it is nice to just stay put and rest and read and do laundry and stay close to the hotel, especially if it is raining! I love the misty rainy shots as I am no longer a fan of the sun after two years of it in the Middle East, and I find these photos haunting and spectacular, but I feel for you and for Mike as your photos transmit the dreariness (not a negative in my vocabulary!) as well as the cold!!! So enjoying this lazy morning catching up with your travels (as well as your travails!)!!! How funny is it that the word “travail” comes from the French word for travel (“travailler”)!! You cannot have one without the other!

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    • I don’t know if you saw the post following this one, but on the day after the boat ride, we got massages in the morning and then spent the day in our pajamas in the hotel room. It was pouring rain outside and we were sick, so it was all we felt like doing. Thanks for the compliments about the photos, but they’re just too dark and dreary for my taste, especially as I know what it felt like to experience the rain and biting cold. Someone else mentioned the “travail” and “travel” connection too. Travel sometimes is really full of travails. 🙂 Thanks for coming by to catch up. I read your email, and I promise you I will respond as soon as I can!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Kat. I’ve just read your great blog. Today I’m finally off to Budapest in Hungary for the first stop in Europe. I’m taking my laptop and hoping to be able to get online in the Vecseri household

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  6. I’m reading these a bit out of order, but have been enjoying them. How frustrating that Esther couldn’t get it together! Even though the pictures are darker than you’d like, they still show off beautifully what you saw. And I’m glad Mike didn’t hurt himself with those doors!

    Nancy

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    • I’m glad Mike didn’t hurt himself with those doors either, Nancy. One thing I hope is that I, or anyone in my family, never get hurt in China. I’ve never yet had to use the medical system, and, mainly because of the communication issues, I hope I never have to! I don’t know what Esther was trying to do that day! I was really starting to doubt what kind of deal she was rigging up. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Poor Mike and you, nothing worse than a cold when you are on holiday. You definitely need that rest day

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    • It was a much needed rest, Pauline. We both had a rough holiday with that cold, wet, and depressing weather. Oh, if only we could do it over at a nicer time of year, but sadly I have to work!! 😦

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