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Guilin and Yangshuo

Published Sun 25 September 2011 18:51 (+1300)
Tagged
  • travel (188 posts and 1102 photos)
  • china (21 posts and 160 photos)
  • guangxi (2 posts and 22 photos)
  • guilin (1 post and 11 photos)
Chinese "Aviation Food" - not to be confused with real food
Chinese "Aviation Food" - not to be confused with real food

We spent a month travelling around China in July and August, starting in Guilin and working our way around the country clockwise.

We tried to take the sleeper train from Shenzhen but it was booked up, even though we tried to book it as far in advance as possible (tickets only go on sale a week before departure, to reduce scalping, so we paid an agency to try and do this). So, we had to fly. Chinese airlines are not known for great food… but at least they accurately label it.

Guilin

Seating pigs around the lake in Guilin
Seating pigs around the lake in Guilin
A nice spot in China - lake, trees, bridges, and karst in Guilin
A nice spot in China - lake, trees, bridges, and karst in Guilin
Stone boat on the lake
Stone boat on the lake
Panda put-put boats for hire on the lake
Panda put-put boats for hire on the lake
Cool tree by the lake
Cool tree by the lake
Mini-Golden-Gate-Bridge on the Guilin lakes
Mini-Golden-Gate-Bridge on the Guilin lakes

Guilin was nice just to wander around. You don't need to pay to visit the tree-surrounded lakes nor see their bridges (which are all miniature versions of famous world bridges), but you can hire a panda-branded put-put boat and go for a nice gentle ride up and down that section of the lakes – a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Monkey roaming in Seven Star Park
Monkey roaming in Seven Star Park
Lanterns in Seven Star Park
Lanterns in Seven Star Park
Beautiful river scene in Seven Star Park
Beautiful river scene in Seven Star Park
Looking over Guilin city and karst landscape from Seven Star Park
Looking over Guilin city and karst landscape from Seven Star Park
People hanging out by the pagodas in the evening
People hanging out by the pagodas in the evening

Seven Star Park is also worth visiting – big karst hills you can climb up, pagodas, monkeys wandering free, limestone caves with inscribed Buddhist Steles, people doing calligraphy on fans etc.. We avoided the zoo bit as we don't support that kind of thing, but the rest of it is nice.

The Li River

Karst landscape ranging around the Li River
Karst landscape ranging around the Li River
The conga line of boats cruising down the Li River
The conga line of boats cruising down the Li River
Who wants a glass of snake wine?
Who wants a glass of snake wine?

It's a very nice morning spent cruising down the Li River to Yangshuo, starting from the pier which is about 40 minutes out of Guilin by bus. There are many similar boats going down and any hotel or tour company can arrange tickets and English-speaking guides to get you to the right place.

The river winds down between spectacular karst hills and although as everywhere in China we weren't sure how much of the haze was the high humidity and how much was smog, it was quite beautiful.

Some people say that going on one of the smaller bamboo rafts down the most interesting half of it is a better thing to do. Maybe but they are motor-powered, so it's not as relaxing as the Yulong River punting we did (see below). The bigger boats do include a buffet lunch which we found edible if a bit cold sitting in the Bain Marie for an hour before we ate!

The Yulong River

The beautiful Yulong River area
The beautiful Yulong River area
Punting in bamboo boats on the Yulong River
Punting in bamboo boats on the Yulong River
Cormorant fisherman demonstrating on the Yulong River
Cormorant fisherman demonstrating on the Yulong River
I'd rather they didn't still do this for tourists - it seems unfair!
I'd rather they didn't still do this for tourists - it seems unfair!
Bamboo rafter on the Yulong River
Bamboo rafter on the Yulong River

It was definitely worth going on the optional extension tour to the Yulong river, about 30 minutes out of Yangshuo. It's tranquil and beautiful there, and punting down the river a short way on the bamboo boats is very relaxing.

This is probably the most chilled-out part of China we went to in our month there!

They also do a Cormorant fishing demo which I wouldn't really have chosen myself – it seems unfair to the birds that they can't swallow the fish they're sent to catch (a band is tied around their necks to prevent this), and although this was an interesting traditional fishing method, now they're just demonstrating for the tourists and throwing the same fish repeatedly for them to catch!

Yangshuo

Yangshuo shopping street
Yangshuo shopping street
Impression Liu Sanjie in the spectacular Yangshuo scenery
Impression Liu Sanjie in the spectacular Yangshuo scenery
The striking Impression Liu Sanjie performance on water
The striking Impression Liu Sanjie performance on water

Yangshuo is definitely a great place to spend a couple of days of your China trip. The main shopping street has a bit of the usual pushiness from vendors but not too bad, and the rest of the town is quite chilled out. There are good caf├ęs for brunch and more of that cool karst scenery surrounding the town.

We also went to the epic Impression Liu Sanjie performance – which has some 600 actors and is performed on water, with big lighting rigs and the karst as a backdrop. Of course, it's completely unintelligible to those of us who don't speak Mandarin, but it's still cool to watch.

After Yangshuo we flew on to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan.