P234H – Limestone Karst Peaks in Yangshuo, China

Probably one of my most memorable trips was my visit to the south eastern area of mainland China. I’ve been to China several times but was particularly looking forward to visiting the Guilin area. After a couple short flights from Hong Kong, I arrived in Guilin. To satisfy the government and point of entry personnel, I made arrangements to stay at a hotel in Guilin (so I could give them a local address where I was staying). But I knew I wouldn’t be staying in the city very long and instead wanted to get out to the countryside. After spending just two days in the Guilin area taking in the sites, I spoke with the hotel concierge and they arranged to help me get a cab to the bus terminal. My Lonely Planet Guide Book recommended an area about 60 clicks south called Yangshuo.

The bus trip in itself was an experience because there were probably 50 people on a small bus that was designed to carry 30. It would constantly stop wherever anyone wanted to get off or on. People carrying chickens, pigs, it didn’t matter. I remember being squished in my seat with my camera backpack on my lap. The bus was ending its service in Yangshuo so I knew I didn’t have to concern myself with when or where to get off.

When I arrived in Yangshuo, it was exactly what I was looking for. A small town along the banks of the Li River. A local girl (calling herself Lucy) immediately queried me to see if she could assist me. Speaking only minimal Chinese myself, I welcomed her assistance; it was worth the few Yuan I gave her over the course of my visit. She helped me locate a local hotel, the rental of a bicycle and even invited me to a couple home cooked meals over the course of my visit. The owner of the bike rental modified my bike with a wood platform on the back so I could tie up my camera backpack so I didn’t have to wear it all the time. I took that bike everywhere. Places where I’m sure most Americans never go. Small villages where older women were walking with their Ox, and down narrow pathways with water on both sides where if I came across a person coming the other direction that we would have to figure out a strategy on how to pass each other.

This photo was taken a few kilometers from the main town along one of the rivers that flows into the Li River. The weather was overcast almost the entire time. When the sun did come out, it became brutally humid and hot, to the point you wanted it to go away.

Although I was planning to travel to other areas within south east China, I spent my entire 6 weeks in this small town. I didn’t want to leave. I met travelers from all over the world at the local eateries and pubs. And it was so inexpensive to stay there. It turned out that I averaged spending only about $100.00 a week, for everything!

When I did leave, the owner of the hotel said they would drive me back to Guilin rather than me having to return on the bus. Sure, it cost me 100 Yuan instead of only 15 with the bus, but at the time with the Yuan being about 12 to 1, it was worth the difference; sitting in the back of a comfy car with wonderful classical music playing. Oh, that's about $8.50.

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