The tranquil beauty of Yangshuo

Posted on April 29, 2013 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments


Main: Camel hill in the background; bottom right: Moon hill


It has been years since I last visited China ( Hong Kong and Macau don't count), and Guilin has always been on my mind, so I suggested it to a friend who was also keen on exploring this part of China.

Our original plan was to spend more time in Yangshuo ( an area famous for its natural scenery outside of Guilin) and do activities such as cycling and hiking. However, we were not prepared for the sudden drop in temperature on the first day and my friend fell ill the day after ( luckily it wasn't bird flu). Hence, apart from bamboo rafting on the first day, she spent the next day in bed and I ended up cycling and doing sightseeing on my own.




I have heard a lot about Yangshuo's picturesque scenery, yet beyond the specular views, I also felt very calm here. Being able to hear the sounds of birds, hens, cows and dogs, and seeing farmers and villagers working and living like their ancestors for generations was wonderful. Yes, there were some tourists traps too, but this is China after all, so it is almost unavoidable.



Top and main: Bamboo rafting down the river; bottom left: Yulong bridge from the Ming dynasty; bottom right: plastic bottles and rubbish floating around!


Bamboo rafting was an activity recommended by our hotel, and despite our hesitation at the beginning about safety issue, we finally agreed to do the 90 minute ride down the river. Once on the raft, we noticed that it didn't have any life jackets, but we were also relieved to see that the river is actually quite shallow. Our initial dam got us both slightly wet and made us laugh hysterically, but we were able to enjoy the ride more afterwards. The activity itself is very commericalised with many eager photographers taking photos of us and trying to sell them back. Though for most part of the journey we were alone on the river, which was fun and relaxing. The downside was seeing plastic bottles and other rubbish floating around at one point, which was a real shame.



Cycling in rural Yangshuo...


The next day, I cycled around the rural countryside, which was probably the most popular and best way to see the area. A local elderly woman on a bike saw me reading a map ( hand-drawn by the hotel staff) and told me to check out a nearby ancient village called Jiuxian. I was slightly sceptical at first but she told me to follow her ( and her bike) and then showed me the route into the village. Thanks to this kind local, I spent the next hour or so wandering around this small village but intriguing historical village dating back to 621 AD ( Tang Dynasty).

With the rapid development of China in recent years, ancient villages are disappearing fast, so to see this village still intact was quite a pleasant surprise. I only wish that other historical villages like this one would be preserved and not be demolished or rebuilt into "Disneyland style" villages ( wishful thinking)...



An authentic and historical village, Jiuxian


Later in the evening, I went to see the rather touristy and chaotic ( in terms of traffic and people at the entrance) light show, "Impression Sanjie Liu" directed by Zhang Yimou. And no surprise, it reminded me very much of his opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympics. There are some spectacular visual effects, and I like the fact that all the performers are all locals ( farmers, fishermen and children etc), however, I just didn't 'feel' for it.

Overall, I enjoyed my short stay in Yangshuo, I like its ruralness, lushness ( which reminds me of the English countryside) and friendly people... and it triggered my interest to explore other rural parts of China that hopefully also convey the same authentic and charming quality.



The people and animal...



This post was posted in Travel, Nature, Sports, Transport and was tagged with nature, cycling, China