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
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
Me and my bicycle
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 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.
Men loading up the bamboo boats at Dragon Bridge
The man at the top
Me on Dragon Bridge
a flotilla of boats
a couple floats past under the bridge
an explosion of color
I love this scene
So many boats!
A slice of heaven
I’m tickled by this scene
boats ~ to infinity & beyond!
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 outside of Yangshuo
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 mirror the karst landscape
We catch some glimpses of people drifting peacefully down the Yulong River.
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
While she’s helping the boaters, I enjoy the beautiful scenery.
The Yulong River away from the crowds
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
fields of hay
haystacks and mountainstacks
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
a motorbike in its element
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
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
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
old mud brick house
We pass by some cute little towns nestled up against the karsts.
a little town nestled into the karts
town sheltered by karst
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.
the weather at the Giggling Tree
Display in the courtyard of Giggling Tree
Little gift shop at Giggling Tree
Giggling Tree gift shop
display in the Giggling Tree gift shop
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
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
Yulong River boats
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
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
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.
the arbor under which we eat lunch at Passion Fruit Leisure Farm
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
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