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Almost Failing to Leave Yangshuo

Missing Boats and Drunken Drivers: Our Last Day in Guilin

sunny 34 °C

I’m sure that even a few years ago, it would have been very easy to find a bamboo raft to take you down the Yulong, but we found that our guide book information, internet research, and even information supplied by the hotel was outdated. Nonetheless, we headed out first thing on Friday, with the intention of walking for about an hour before renting a bamboo raft to take us back to our riverside hotel.



The walk was staggeringly beautiful. The karst landscape is quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, and the long river valley, with it’s lush green fields and tall bamboo groves lining the Yulong, perfectly framed with karsts, surely ranks as one of the most stunning vistas I have had the privilege to witness. It was hot and very humid, however, and – local farmers and builders aside – we were the only pedestrians. Bemused groups of Chinese tourists drove by in air conditioned vehicles, while western tourists bumped by on bone-shaking bicycles.

Working bamboo rafts, however, were more sparse than we were expecting. Turns out that the Government has clamped down on bamboo raft operators, perhaps contributing to our discovery that it was no longer possible to secure a raft on the route we needed to get us back to the hotel! With a plane to catch, we headed back at speed, picking up a couple of licensed rafts to take us the last half mile or so to the hotel. In retrospect, we were probably lucky NOT to pick up rafts earlier – it was very relaxing, and we were pleased to experience the karsts (and indeed the Mountain Retreat hotel) from a different perspective, but if we had picked up a raft where we had initially hoped, we’d likely have been late back to the hotel.

Lloyd and I floating down the Yulong...

Martin enjoying his Bamboo Raft. The Yangshuo Mountain Retreat Hotel is in the background. And yes, the karsts are that big.

After a much needed shower, we had time for one last lunch before climbing into the taxi for the one-and-a-half hour drive back to Guilin airport. We were disappointed to find that our return vehicle was not the comfortable, air-conditioned Volkswagen we had arrived in, but a regular taxi whose windows were more effective than the installed AC. No problem; after our fourteen hour bus rides, Lloyd and I can put up with intense heat and clammy skin for longer than the 90 minutes it would take to get to Guilin airport! Even more concerning, though, to find that our driver was either drunk or sleep-deprived, requiring regular stops to visit the bathroom and/or purchase multiple cans of Red Bull to keep him awake at the wheel. On more than one occasion, we discussed as a group whether we should bail out, but took responsibility instead to try and keep him awake. Martin was assigned to monitoring eye movement to see if he actually fell asleep at the wheel, while Lloyd would erupt with some kind of noise at strategic moments (i.e. when a big truck was headed at us) to ensure the driver was alert enough to deal with it. It’s the first time we haven’t tipped a driver since we’ve been here.

At Guilin airport, our Air China flight was delayed but passed without incident. A fairly decent Horror-Box was an unexpected surprise, and we arrived in Chengdu at about 7.30pm, reaching the hotel about an hour later. While we loved the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat, we were extremely grateful for the Holiday Inn’s power shower. We planned our three night/two day stay in Chengdu over drinks in the bar, while soft mattresses and lush duvets gently called us to slumber.

Posted by jacquiedro 08:08 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world

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well,it look beatiful and i really admire the trip,I have been there before but my journey too short to have a chance on the bamboo,we end up in big boat that took us too fast along the river,nice trip and good snap

by andylau

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