Yangshuo – We’re Finally In China!

Even though Hong Kong is technically part of China, we still hadn’t felt like we had been to the real China yet and were really looking forward to crossing the border.  We were on the super efficient metro line to take us from downtown Hong Kong to the border town of Schenzen.  Not a place you really want to spend much time in.

It’s a popular place to go for knock-off purses, shoes and clothes.  There was some hassle there but it wasn’t too bad.  After searching around for somewhere to buy bus tickets, we finally found a security guard who understood our hand gestures and waved at us to follow him.  We arrived at the little bus ticket stand and the lady told us the price from Shenzhen to Yangshuo, 320 RMB (about $50).

We were shocked at the high price but she said that it’s the May holiday in China and also that the security guard gets a commission for bringing us there!  Are you kidding me?  We weren’t too impressed about that so we went to the next booth and ended up getting a ticket (without paying commission) for 260 RMB, much better.

The overnight bus that pulled up around 7:00pm was remnant of the ones we used to take in Laos and Vietnam, only slightly better.  We lucked out and had ground level beds that were just long enough for us to lay down with our legs bent out into the aisle.  I felt bad for the people who had to sleep on the upper bunk with nothing but a seatbelt to hold them in as we went flying over bumps during the night.

Nick getting comfortable on the overnight bus to Yangshuo
Nick getting comfortable on the overnight bus to Yangshuo

We arrived in Yangshuo at 5:30am during a torrential downpour.  All we could think was “great, just like the Philippines”.  We checked into our home-stay, Yangshuo Culture House, and went to bed in a really nice room.  We awoke 5 hours later to sun beaming in our window, as was the case for the next 3 nights we stayed there!

The location of this home-stay is awesome, set just outside of town down a small alleyway where local people sit around playing cards and having tea.  Men play the Chinese version of a violin while kids whiz by on bikes, with beautiful red lanterns hanging from the homes above their heads.  The owner, Wei, and his family were so friendly and the home-stay was lovely.  It included 3 home-cooked meals a day.

Breakfast was simple, toast and mango, banana, Chinese apple and oranges.  Lunch was fried rice (which we were never around for) and dinner was a massive spread of many different Chinese dishes:  sweet and sour chicken, grilled stuffed peppers with pork, sautéed snow peas with garlic and ginger, stir fried beef with peppers and onions, perfectly cooked pumpkin…and the list went on.  It was an all you could eat affair and everyone sat around the table gabbing and picking food from the communal dishes with their chopsticks.  We definitely looked forward to our dinners each night.

1694633493 60 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
streetside BBQ
1694633493 686 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
having a street-side dinner and beers

Besides the delicious food, we were in the beautiful area of Yangshuo to see the countryside.  This part of Guangxi province is known for its stunning landscapes dotted with limestone karsts rising from the earth.  Similar to those found in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos & the Philippines; however, we have never seen so many in one place.

The karsts stretch for as far as the eye can see in all directions.  We decided that the best way to see the countryside and the karsts up close would be to rent bicycles and head off.  We got ourselves a very basic map and made our way towards the countryside.  We rode along the Yulong River, through farmland, into small villages, past men fishing along the banks of the river and along silent back roads.  We rode for about 3.5 hours before calling it a day.  It was about 30 degrees and we were so incredibly hot that we came back to town, inhaled a couple of Gatorades and went for an afternoon nap.  A great first day in Yangshuo.

1694633494 236 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
our first day of cycling through the countryside of Yangshuo
1694633494 111 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
crossing the river
1694633494 990 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
taking a quick break from cycling
1694633494 356 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
a man “fishing” in the river – using a car battery to fry the fish!
1694633495 551 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
a local woman cycling through the villages
1694633495 438 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
views around Yangshuo countryside
1694633495 262 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
beautiful rice paddies and karsts in the distance

The second day was spent the same way, but this time we wanted to see some of the typical touristy things in the area.  We went to see Moon Hill and the Banyon Tree.  This day was the actual holiday day and the main roads were packed with local tourist buses, minibuses, cars, motorbikes and bicycles.  We were brave and weaved our way in and out of the traffic, ringing our little handlebar bell constantly!  We ended up at the Banyon tree, a 17 meter high tree with a trunk measuring 7 meters around!  It was planted over 1400 years ago and is set in the middle of  a park with the Jinbao River on one side.

1694633496 76 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
the massive, old Banyon Tree
1694633496 582 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
they never listen to the signs!!

We walked through the river to cool off and had our photo taken by some curious local people.  We found the people in Yangshuo to be so friendly.  Everyone says hello as they walk past and even though they don’t speak English, they will try their hardest to help and answer questions if needed.  After our quick Banyon break, we were back on our 10 speed bikes, dodging fumes and other vehicles as we made our way to Moon Hill.  We parked our bikes, bought a couple of waters and headed in to see the limestone cliff with a natural moon shape carved out of it.  Pretty cool.  We thought we were just there to look at it from a distance but we soon realized we were actually meant to climb to the top of the cliff to get a first hand view.

1694633496 706 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
view of Moon Hill from the bottom

So, up 800 rock-cut stairs we went.  We were dripping, and I mean dripping, sweat.  It was beyond humid and it was 33+ degrees that day.  The hike to the top was totally worth it though, the views were fantastic.  We could look out all around us and see mounds of karsts jutting out of the ground, and in between them were small villages, it was great.

1694633497 366 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
Nick starting the very humid hike up to the top of Moon Hill
1694633497 402 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
made it to the top of Moon Hill
1694633498 713 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
view from the top of Moon Hill – countryside and all the karsts in the distance

Needless to say, the descent was much easier.  We hoisted our tired legs back on our bike and set back to Yangshuo.  We found a fabulous little place to have lunch; steamed and fried pork dumplings dipped in a soy and chilli sauce, perfect lunch spot!  It was so good that we ended up eating there a couple of times.

1694633498 527 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
woman making our favourite pork & veg dumplings
1694633499 608 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
mmm, delicious dim sum and dumplings being steamed

Our third, and final, day in Yangshuo was much like the ones before:  wake up to a delicious fresh breakfast, rent a bike and head off!  This time we were going in a different direction, over to the Li River and across to the village of Fuli.  This was by far the best ride yet.  There was hardly a car on the road, it was silent, the scenery spectacular, the villagers along the way were so kind.  It as a very peaceful day.  We stopped along the river at a little cafe for a drink and to cool down before making our way further along.  We actually ended up missing the turn off for Fuli (which isn’t surprising as nothing is written in English) and therefore ended up in some very rural villages, with some great sights.  Women were panning for snails in the river, water buffalos were cooling off in the muddy water and farmers were walking their buffalo down the streets.  Yep, we certainly didn’t mind that we had to backtrack to Fuli.

1694633499 489 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
local people searching for snails
1694633500 620 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
we’re the only tourists around for miles
1694633500 957 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
haha, thumbs up!
1694633500 790 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
stunning rice paddies on our way to Fuli

We took a little ferry across the Li River to the town of Fuli, known for its handmade fans.  The little lanes were filled with shops with men and women applying their painting skills to handmade silk fans, skills that have been passed down from generation to generation.  We browsed around before heading back to Yangshuo in time for our homemade dinner to be served!

1694633500 298 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
our little ferry boat to take us across the Li River to Fuli Village
1694633500 288 Yangshuo Were Finally In China
hand made fans drying out in the sun, Fuli Village

That night we met some great people, Jeanette & Nic, a couple from England who have been travelling for 3 years, half of which was spent cycling across countries!  They were so upbeat, positive and easy-going and it was a pleasure to chat with them.  They have no plans as of yet and are still enjoying being on the road.  They were a true inspiration.

The next morning we dragged our aching bodies out of our warm bed and hopped on a local bus to take us on the one hour journey to the City of Guilin.

Like this Post? Pin it!

Deja un comentario