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Monday, April 7, 2014

Guilin and Yangshuo: Day 4 (the first tour)

It's one of the ultimate tourist trips in all of China, and one of the most spectacular: the 3½-hour boat ride along the Lí River 漓江 from Guìlín 桂林 to Yángshuò 阳朔. Fortunately, the rain which had come down as we were traveling by bus with our group to the boat dock let up by the time we got on board, and would leave us alone for the journey upstream. Unfortunately, the overcast conditions played havoc with my camera and my limited photography skills, meaning that the pictures you see below don't do justice to the magnificent scenery of karst peaks lining both sides of the river:

The tour we joined was a mix of Chinese and non-Chinese tourists, and included lunch on board the ferry and a bus ride back to Guilin, the latter which we didn't need as were to stay the next four nights in the Yangshuo area. I've always wanted to visit this part of China, and the scenery didn't disappoint (even if my camera sometimes did):

My daughter, being all of eight years old, eventually got tired of the unending beauty and spent much of the time inside drawing pictures in a sketch book she'd brought along. My wife was more appreciative of the scenery but didn't care much for the atmospheric conditions, leaving your humble correspondent to man the upper viewing deck, which he did for the entire duration of the boat trip (except for when lunch was served - even intrepid travelers such as myself have to eat sometimes). 

The karst just kept on koming:

Pamela steps out for some fresh air and to take in the Chineseness of it all:

Just as we sat down to eat lunch, the ferry passed by the stretch of the Li River that appears on the reverse side of the Chinese 20 RMB note. Surprisingly, none of the Chinese tourists on board broke away from their meals to venture out onto the deck for the photo op, leaving only a handful of foreigners like myself to let our food get cold while we tried (and no doubt failed) to recreate the image on the bill:

Lunchtime over, it was back out on deck:

As we neared Yangshuo, signs of civilization increased along the riverbanks. The Li River itself, of course, is well plumbed by sightseeing vessels of various sizes and types:

Finally, the ferry pulled into Yangshuo:

I've ridden my fair share of ferryboats, but the Li River cruise definitely is the winner in terms of scenic wonders. It came as something of a shock to come face to face with the tourist hordes populating the main street in Yangshuo, as we struggled to pull our bags to the next rendezvous point while running the gauntlet of middle-aged and elderly women attempting to sell us every knickknack ever made in Chinese factories or trying to convince us to eat at their fine dining establishments. 

Next rendezvous point, you say? Yes, for my dear wife, instead of having us drop off our things at our next accommodation and re-acclimatize ourselves to dry land, booked us on another tour for later that afternoon.

To be continued...

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