Northern Guangxi Province: Part II: Yangshuo

31 Jul

Our hotel in Yangshuo, set right against a karst hill.

After Guilin, we went by bus to Yangshuo. We first bought our train ticket from Guilin to Nanning for several days later. At that time, unfortunately, it started to pour rain and we had to walk for at least 15 minutes in the pouring rain with our luggage to get to the bus station to take a bus to Yangshuo, a small town without train service. We were thoroughly soaked by the time we got there and later discovered that some of the clothes in our luggage got wet too. The rain continued for about half an hour of the one and a half hour trip to Yangshuo and then the sun came back out and we haven’t seen rain since. We first stayed one night in the town, in a nice quiet hotel, near the tourist area but between the pedestrian street and a hill with small balconies where we could hang our wet clothes on the handy drying lines.

the “tourist” side of Yangshuo

As we had decided in Guilin, we went to climb a free hill. The fun was finding it! We first went to one near the dock in the north part of town but couldn’t find the way up although the guidebook said it could be climbed. Finally giving up, we took a little electric bus back to the centre and went to the park by the bus station to find the another smaller hill.

the “other” side of Yangshuo

The funny part was that there were so many hills around that we couldn’t find the right one! We first tried to go up one, only to find out there was no trail up, just a little loop around the bottom. During this whole hill search, local people kept pointing us in different directions, refusing to admit that they didn’t know but instead confusing us and leading us astray. Finally I found someone who knew the hill we were after and we climbed it, taking pictures of the lovely views of the town surrounded by hills. Interestingly, this hill and park are located kind of in the middle of Yangshuo, dividing the town into two sides, the “touristy” side, with West Street, a long pedestrial street with touristy shops and other streets connecting to it with touristy restaurants. The other side is where the locals live, etc.

Ice cream time!

The large touristy part of town was teeming with foreign as well as Chinese tourists and we felt that even though the scenery in Yangshuo was beyond beautiful,we didn’t want to live in such a touristy place, where the locals would always assume we were tourists. That night we ate at a cheap Chinese stall with the locals, then walked over to the touristy side and had “Italian” ice cream in celebration of Roya’s birthday as it was the 22nd we didn’t know if we would have access to ice cream the next day.

Inside the common yard of the Giggling Tree.

The next day, we checked out and went to a hotel converted from barns by a Dutch couple in a small village near Yangshuo. The place, set in the peaceful countryside was great for the kids, having toys that they played with in the yard. Unfortunately, staying on the dark first floor room, though nice and cool, also had a lot of mouldy smell that Peiman had trouble with. But my mom’s second floor room was quite a bit nicer. Aside from the mould and the bad showers (first time, the water kept going from hot to cold and the next morning, there was only cold water at our place so I showered at my mom’s), we really liked the kid friendliness, beautiful setting and relaxing atmosphere of this place.

View from the shore of our swimming spot on Yulong River.

That first afternoon, soon after arriving, we went swimming at the nearby Yulong River, a place that truly took my breath away. We were the only ones there and I swam all the way to a little waterfall, on top of which I walked like the farmer I saw doing it earlier and where the next day we saw cows crossing with their owner! That afternoon, I felt like this is how I would imagine “paradise”.

Cows crossing a little waterfall.

Roya and I swimming together in the river.

On the road to Moon Hill.

After some more playing at the hotel yard, we decided to go on a bike ride to Moon Hill, a trip we were told would take half an hour. Well, this was the most challenging part of our trip yet! Not only were we going along a narrow road full of fast going tour buses, trucks carrying bamboo rafts back upriver and open-air waggons carrying the bamboo raft operators back upriver but it was very hot with no shade. After about half an hour, Roya was refusing to go any further but since we thought we would be there soon, I encouraged her to keep going, wetting her hair and giving her water to drink. She felt better and continued.

Fast moving traffic on the narrow road.

To make a long story short, after an hour and a half we made to the bridge going across the river where all the bamboo rafts were arriving and endless tour buses were. There the road turned into a normal wide road and the going got easier. After passing several caves with tour buses in the parking lots, another half an hour of biking from the bridge, we made it to this apparently not very popular attraction, judging by the fact that there was one car and a few bikes in the parking lot and only a 15 yuan entry fee.

View of Moon Hill from bottom of the mountain.

After this emotionally and physically taxing two hour trip, I somehow managed to coax Roya to go up the hill, about a half hour steep climb. Milad, having sat on the back of a bike, had lots of energy. An old lady wanting to sell us water walked up with us all the way, fanning the kids with her fan whenever they stopped to take a rest. Peiman was up ahead and my mother further behind. In that way, the kids, lady and I made it to the top just as Peiman was heading back.

A picture that does not do justice to the AMAZING view from Moon Hill.

Then he walked back to the viewpoint with us again and WOW! What an incredible view!!! I have to say that the pictures posted here really do not do justice to the amazing view from this place: a village surrounded by never-ending hills as far as the eye could see. On top, four Dutch young men asked us to take their picture and then took ours in return.

Our family at the top of Moon Hill.

It was worth the pain…and luckily, on the way back by the bridge I managed to get us and our bikes a ride back to our hotel on one of the waggons carrying the bamboo raft operators. The man drove like crazy! and Peiman began talking to him to get him to slow down (kind of like how you are supposed to talk to a kidnapper to make yourself more human to him so he may let you go).

Our transportation back to our hotel.

Roya eating her birthday chocolate pancake with ice cream in the evening.

We made it back and Roya and Milad had chocolate pancakes with ice cream because this was after all July 23, Roya’s real birthday. On her eighth birthday, Roya had fun (swimming in the river) and challenges to overcome (bike trip) – a meaningful day to be sure!

The next day, we went on a river cruise between the villages of Yangdi and Xingping, organized by the hotel.

Floating together on the river 🙂

It was really a nice trip through the most gorgeous karst scenery (near Xingping I took a picture like the one on the 20 yuan bill) and even stopped to take a little dip in the water along the way. Back at our hotel the kids played some more, Milad practising soccer and dribbling and Roya learning to play something I don’t know the name of (see picture). Then we went for a last evening swim in the river before departing from Yangshuo the next day.

Li River

Shooting water

Kids on the boat

20 Yuan bill picture

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One Response to “Northern Guangxi Province: Part II: Yangshuo”

  1. Leah August 1, 2011 at 5:51 am #

    What an adventure! I’m loving reading your updates, Klara. You certainly are visiting some gorgeous places. I’ll live vicariously through you. 🙂

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