Saturday, May 30: After we finish the Li River cruise, Erica and I drop into town for a quick pizza lunch at the Rosewood Cafe and then head out immediately for a bike ride. As we only have a short weekend, I’m trying to compress what I did in four days into less than two days. We take off into the countryside in a steady drizzle, hoping that it will let up before long. By the time we get into the heart of the countryside, it has stopped raining, but we are fairly damp. The moisture in the air is thick, making for some hazy views.
I’m trying to lead Erica by memory into the countryside, following the route that Audrey led me on in October. I’m surprised that I am able to recognize landmarks and find my way, despite only having been once on this route. Sometimes I have no sense of direction, and other times I have an uncanny internal compass that enables me to figure out the lay of the land.
the farmland of Yangshuo
We come to a spot along the Yulong River where some girls are standing under the trees trying to keep dry, as it has started raining again. We get off our bikes and join the girls under the trees, as there’s quite a deluge. While waiting, we’re lucky enough to have a farmer cross the river with his cows.
The Yulong River
A farmer and his cow
I love it how the farmer rolls up his pants and wades confidently into the river, and his cows follow obediently behind.
the farmer crosses the Yulong River with his cows
wading across the Yulong River
I am thrilled to experience this little slice of life in the Yangshuo countryside!
bicycles Chinese style
When the rain lets up, Erica and I get back on our bikes to continue on our journey.
Erica and her bicycle
Before we leave, two young men come by on a motorbike. I can’t believe it, but they try to cross the river on the bike. One of the men gets off and walks alongside. Of course the bike stalls, but they get it started again and make their way gingerly across.
crossing the Yulong River on a motorbike
There’s all kind of activity on this rainy day in Yangshuo. We encounter another farmer leading his cow along the path.
another farmer and his cow
His cow goes off into the bushes to scrounge around, but the farmer doesn’t seem to mind. After all, cows will be cows.
and the cow goes scrounging in the bushes
We pass more farmland in the midst of the karsts, and we glimpse farmers and water buffalos in the fields.
a farmer in the field
water buffalo in the field
Erica and her bicycle
I have to take a convoluted path to get us to Dragon Bridge. There are no English signs to point out the way, but I use my 6th sense, just letting my body lead us in the right direction. We go through a parking lot and then emerge on the other side to find the trail continuing along the Yulong River. Once again, I’m surprised and pleased that I’m able to remember the way to go.
Erica hasn’t seen the bamboo rafts at Yulong Bridge, and she is delighted by the sight, as am I.
the view upriver from Dragon Bridge
Looking downriver from Dragon Bridge
bamboo rafts on the Yulong River
the Yulong River from Dragon Bridge
The rafts go downriver, and as the boatmen go by, they toss these ID tags up on to the bridge, where someone collects them. I’m not sure exactly how this system works and what the point is.
boat ID tags
As we’re leaving, we catch this character shooting the breeze with a companion.
Do you like my hat?
We pass by a cute little bridge beside a coffee shop in the countryside.
A little bridge in the countryside
coffee shop in Yangshuo
view from the little bridge
We stop at the Giggling Tree, a hotel that always seems to be booked whenever I’ve come to Yangshuo. This hotel is popular among Westerners. We stop in the courtyard and have some mango drinks.
the courtyard at the Giggling Tree
I was hoping we’d end up back at the Passion Fruit Leisure Farm, where Audrey and I ate lunch in October, but Erica is tired from our long day and wants to make our way back to town. So we ride back into Yangshuo, where we stroll around the town. Here, I finally buy a couple of cool lanterns, after dreaming about them during my whole time in China.
Lately, the lens on my Olympus Pen has been acting up, and I’m disappointed to find that many of my pictures are not quite focused. I’m not sure if they’re like this because of the dense mist in the air in Yangshuo, or because of the lens not focusing properly. I think it’s going to be time for a new camera soon. 🙂
a little Chinese girl poses at a shop in Yangshuo
the town and canals in Yangshuo
After dinner, we hop on our bikes to head back toward the Cosy Garden. While we’re riding over the bumpy cobblestones under the long pavilion, Erica says she’d like to stop at Demo Tikki Bar, which Audrey took me to in October; it has now moved from the middle of Yangshuo to this somewhat deserted stretch under the pavilion along the Li River.
Audrey had introduced me to the German manager, Peter, and when we stop in, I ask Peter if he remembers me from when I came in with Audrey. He does because he added me on WeChat at that time, so he’s seen all my posts. I’ve seen his as well, so everything finally comes together: all his posts about Demo Bar’s move to the new location now make perfect sense. We sit at a table and have some beer and cheese plates and Peter joins us when time allows. When he sits with us, he shares his excitement about the restaurant/bar’s new location and all his plans for this and another new restaurant in town.
Erica over beers at the new Demo Bar by the Li River
After dinner, Erica and I hop back on our bicycles to ride through the drizzling dark to the Cosy Garden. The staff at Cosy Garden gave Erica a miniature headlamp, like what a coal miner wears, when we left the hotel this morning. At the far end of the long pavilion, we both take turns struggling to turn it on and put it on our heads; finally it’s me that wins out. We cycle forth into the darkness, a beam of light shining from my luminous head onto the road ahead.
Earlier today, I asked Erica if she’d rather take the bamboo raft down the Yulong River tomorrow, or if she’d rather take a motorbike tour up to the Seven Star tea plantation and Xianggong Hill. There is only enough time for one or the other. She was so charmed by the Yulong River rafts that she’s decided she’d like to do that tomorrow; we arranged it in town when we returned from our bike rides earlier.
We settle in quite late at the Cosy Inn, preparing for another raft trip and for our long journey back to Nanning tomorrow.