Sunday, May 31: This morning, Erica and I awake to a steady downpour of rain, but as we walk to the Cosy Garden’s sister restaurant for breakfast, the rain magically tapers off. The mist doesn’t disappear though, not even remotely; even though no rain is falling, it is still exceedingly damp. After nearly a year of living in Guangxi province, I’m finally coming to the conclusion that the province is ALWAYS damp. That’s why you always see pictures of the karst landscape in Guilin and Yangshuo with misty clouds draped protectively over the fantastical mountains.
After breakfast, we check out of the hotel and wait for our ride to the Yulong River, which we arranged yesterday. When we arrive at the boat launch, an altercation with our driver ensues. We had asked when we arranged the ride if we could leave our bags in the vehicle while we took the raft ride down the Yulong River. We are heading directly to Guilin after our boat ride, so we didn’t want to have to return to the hotel, which is quite out-of-the-way.
The driver has apparently not been apprised of this arrangement and keeps arguing with violent gestures (he doesn’t speak English) that we cannot leave our bags in the van. It gets quite ugly, but we insist on leaving the bags. I have a smaller bag in which I carry my camera, money and passport, so I carry that with me on the raft, but Erica has only one bag, a big one, in which she has everything, including all her valuables. She wants the driver to lock the car, but he refuses. We end up leaving the bags there anyway, as he marches us angrily to the boat launch.
We situate ourselves on the rafts and before long, we’re underway. It’s a dark and dreary day, not ideal for pictures, but… it is what it is. This is Yangshuo and this is more the norm than not.
Every time we come to a drop in the river, shown below, we have to ride over and splash into the lower level of the river. It doesn’t look very steep, but we can really feel it when we go over. It’s quite exciting!
Erica can speak a little more Chinese than I can, so somehow she gleans from the captain of our boat that his home is right along the river. He points out his homestead as we go past.
It’s fun to watch the mostly Chinese tourists who are floating along with us downriver. They repeatedly want to take pictures of us, while we in return take pictures of them.
The boat captain in the picture below ends up dropping his pole in the river, and as we go on, we wonder what will become of him and his passengers.
It is a very cloudy day, but it’s still lovely. The pictures don’t turn out so well though, sadly.
At some points on the river we encounter a few pile ups.
And of course there are always the ubiquitous Chinese girls taking selfies.
We pass by the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat on our way down the river.
When our raft ride is over, we have to wait nearly an hour for our driver to appear to take us to the bus station. Because our bags are in his van, this causes us some consternation. Luckily we have the phone number for the woman who sold us the bamboo boat ride, and she is able to contact him and hurry him along.
In the end, we make it to the bus station with enough time to grab some lunch at a nearby Chinese restaurant. Then, we’re on the bus to Guilin and from there, on the train back to Nanning. It’s great to have had a little adventure with Erica, as I’ve traveled alone on all my adventures this year. I’m glad I got to share what little I know of Yangshuo with such an enthusiastic friend and colleague. 🙂