29.04.2014 - 29.05.2014 15 °C
When we arrived in Yangshuo Sandra began to worry that the suggested idyllic holiday spot wasn't what her colleagues suggested. Yes there were the karst hills surrounding the town, more so than in Guilin, but it was busy, full of traffic and people. Luckily our taxi driver kept going and we soon arrived at the more touristic area of Yangshuo.
We were happy to see that our hostel was out of town, surrounded by market gardens and mandarin orchards. We were a short walk into town through a covered walkway that turned into a market during the day to sell tat to the hoards of boat tourists that floated down the Li River from Guilin.
The first day it was raining and we wanted to find our way around rather than heading out into the great unknown. So we wandered around town, had a fantastic meal at the Lotus Buddha vegetarian restaurant, booked a cycle tour with Bike Asia and a bike hire for the following day. This was expensive by China's standards but for 240 yuan ($48) we were in a small group, had an English speaking guide, had lunch thrown in, and were equipped with a safe mountain bike and helmet. Bike hire the next day was only $20.
Yangshou is the place to go to cycle. However most of the bike hire places have decorative bikes with no helmets. The Chinese and foreign tourists teeter around the town seemingly unaware of the other road users. It is quite entertaining and alarming to watch at the same time. What is more alarming is the ease in which scooters are hired out to people that clearly have no talent to use them.
Having organised our next two days we walked back to our hostel and then went for a walk from there into the rice paddies and surrounding villages. It was misty and a little cold but well worth venturing out. Planting of rice has begun in earnest. It was also great to see the farming practices at work. There were regular piles of rotted vegetation mixed with animal dung along the side of the road. It appears that most of the agriculture around here is organic. They have large planted up areas of water hyacinth, which is a unwanted organism in NZ (MPI is trying to eradicate it). Here it is used as fertilizer when decomposed.
I got to take some amazing photos.
Yangshuo at night is pretty cool!