Biking and Rafting Along the Rivers

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Where I stayed
Showbiz Hostel
What I did

Flag of China  , Guangxi Zhuang,
Monday, August 29, 2011

Who knew Yangshuo would be such a charming spot. Surrounded by karst mountains in every direction it really has a mystical feel. We stayed at this fantastic hostel called Showbiz with a desirable rooftop bar and view. Not only is the staff friendly and helpful, but the place offers free access to a washing machine and Facebook.

Upon arrival, a Remy, French physical trainer and I went for a 40 minute jog along the river and through the neighboring village. Afterwards a group of 12 of us from the hostel gathered for dinner at the Clay pot. One guy suggested it after eating there five nights in a row. Post dinner Daria and I stumbled upon the best fresh juice bar, which quickly became a daily ritual. For a dollar you can get a very large fresh juice of any fruit imaginable. I noticed she had ginger on the menu so I jumped at the opportunity to ask her to create a honey, lemon, and ginger for me. Of course that would just be the appetizer than I would proceed to order two or three others in one sitting. We turned several others on to the place as well. Owned and run by a young 25 year old woman, I loved supporting her business.

Aside from rock climbing, biking and kayaking, Yangshuo is quite the partying town. The big draw is beer pong played into the wee hours at a rooftop bar called Mojos.

The next morning we indulged in a true American breakfast: eggs, French toast, yogurt with muesli and fruit, coffee and juice. I was in heaven. I ended up ordering a variation of that every day, sure beats the fried noodles at 8:00AM.

While sitting at the restaurant we were approached by this cute local woman name Lucy. This woman has a ton of energy and a great personality, so when she offered to be our guide for a day of biking along the river through the villages and to the main sites we didn't take long to say yes.

The girls got pink basic cruisers while the guys opted for the more expensive mountain bikes just for the better color option. We followed this 4’10" ball of energy out of town and through the villages stopping to swim in the river along the way.

Daria and I got dropped off at a certain point to take a bamboo raft down the Yulong River and meet up with the guys and Lucy at Moon Hill. Before summiting Moon Hill for sunset in a record half hour time, which would take others double that, we were given hardhats and led into a dark cave. I felt like a miner, it was one of those long, dark, wet caves with the random rock formations everywhere but the reward was a mud pool at the end followed by a few thermal pools of varying temperatures. Unfortunately, the sign at the entrance said no cameras so I don’t have any fun pics of us all brown.

Because we stayed up at Moon Hill for sunset it meant riding home in the dark. It was actually kind of nice 40 minute ride back into downtown and the craziness of the city with the bright lights and bad singing beaming from the bars.

A nice thing about the Showbiz Inn Hostel is they offer free washing machines, so I immediately threw my bathing suit and other dirty clothes in for a wash before heading out for the night.

 August 30: A Day on the Li River
Since Daria didn't get in until 8:00AM after watching the sunrise, I was on my own for the day. I had hopes of taking a cruise on the Li River with views of the famous karst mountains as found on the 20 Yuan (Chinese Dollar) and a brand of cigarettes (see photo). I met Gil, an Israeli guy who was interested in the same plan. Together we took the local bus to Yanding. Although we met a very nice Chinese couple who spoke English, once we established that we would like to join them on their raft, we were blocked by the local people who manage the rafts. Apparently a phone call had been made once we boarded the bus and there is an operation that allocates a driver for the targeted tourist. So it would’ve been bad manners for the Chinese couple to take work away from the other boat driver and in the end we had to go just Gil and I. After less than two hours of taking non-stop photos, Gil was worse than I with directing how to take the photo we landed in a small village called Xinping.

I would’ve spent longer perusing the village but I had to be back for a 7:00PM showing of Impressions Liu Sanjie directed by the moviemaker Zhang Yimou the man who also directed the opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympics. The light show is made up of 600 performers with the back drop of 12 Karst Mountains and is performed on the Li River. The legend is about a beautiful woman with a voice to match from the Zhuang ethnic background. It portrays the life of the people on the river and the basic story of how Liu uses her voice as a sing off to win the right to marry a fisherman instead of the wealthy admirer. It is definitely a visual phenomenon but on a budget I would say save your money. Of course it wouldn’t be a Chinese show without the constant fan beating on the legs to swap the mosquitos and the men smoking and spitting. Oddly, we stood out in the crowd of 2,500 because I had arranged for us to go at a discount rate with this group of 13 fraternity brothers from the Netherlands. Quite impressive that these guys reunite every few years and take a big trip as a group, each year a few are responsible for the planning. 
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