After several nights in Shenzhen we left the big city for Yangshuo, a much smaller town on the Li River, a 2-hour plane ride away. We were lucky to have Bob, Simone’s dad, with us to show us the area and introduce us to his friends, he was also nice enough to pay for our plane tickets! We spent 5 nights in Yangshuo and 2 nights in Guilin (where the airport is). The weather was a little overcast and rainy so Jason wasn’t able to get the photos he had been dreaming of.
The area of Yangshuo is known for its river and amazing Karst mountains. It is a beautiful place but in the last few years has been overrun with Chinese tourists, cars and noise. We were fortunate to meet some great people who had been living in the area for a long time and stayed at Bobs old apartment with his friend Dawn who we really enjoyed getting to know. Shelly, Bob’s friend and a teacher took us to her technical school to meet her students age 15-17 and to a local primary school to see the kids. We had a great time interacting with the kids and answering the teenager’s questions.
A must see in Yangshuo is the amazing Impressions show, created by one of the men who choreographed the Beijing Olympic ceremonies and performed on the river by over 600 people. It is truly an amazing sight even in Chinese, and although a little pricey we think it was well worth it.
We also spent some time at Shangrila Village, a cultural tourist spot highlighting the different ethnic groups of the area. It showcased their customs, dances, traditions and handicrafts. The people working there didn’t look all that happy and the boat ride through the village felt a little rushed. Everything was in Chinese as they don’t get many foreign tourists. It was a nice outing, but according to Bob it used to be much better.
Jason spent half a day biking around the countryside with a local guide. He was able to see more of the local life and landscape by bike and learned a lot from his guide.
We decided to take to the river and after a lot of phone calls we were able to find some kayaks. We thought we were also getting a guide, but we just got a man following us down river in a boat in case of an emergency! It would have been nice to know what we were paddling by, but the scenery during the 2-hour paddle was very nice. Unfortunately we had a lot of wind and the “easy” down river paddle was quite a workout.
After spending 5 nights in Yangshuo we headed to Guilin for 2 nights and spent a little time exploring the rivers and lakes of the area. We also met up with Marina, another of Bob’s friends for dinner. It looked like there was a lot to do and see in the area, but with only one full day we were only able to see a small amount. It was nice to finally see the areas that Bob had talked so much about and to spend time with family after such a long time on the road. Thanks to Marina who works for the airlines, we flew first class to our next destination, Kunming.