Monday, December 11, 2006


Last weekend we traveled to Yangshuo. We stayed at the Outside Inn which is located in a little village about 5 km outside of Yangshuo. The tourist sign introducing the village states that it has 10 part members of the Communist Party. I’m not sure what a part member is or why this is important, but we had a good time there.

On the first day we were there we rode bikes up one side of the Yu Long River to Baisha and back down the other side. The rough road and trails made for some bumpy riding, but the small farm villages and amazing karst formations made it all worth while.

The most interesting part of the day was visiting the market at Baisha. Any kind of item necessary for daily living could be found there. Everything from pirated DVD’s (75 cents each) to plow blades to live chickens, rabbits, and fish for dinner could be found. We had a hard time spending money here. We parked our bikes behind a sugar cane stall and offered to pay for the privilege, but our money was refused and they insisted that we take some sugar cane to chew on. We walked around for a bit and ended up standing under an awning to wait out a rain burst where an old lady gave us some oranges. After the rain cleared in a few minutes we tried to buy some of her oranges, but she too refused our money. When we insisted she ended up giving us even more oranges, which we in turn had to give away to others since we didn’t want to carry so many. After poking around for awhile we had a bowl of 25 cent noodle soup (very tasty) and headed back to the bikes. I felt like the market was a glimpse into genuine rural life in China. There were no tourist items for sale and not once did we hear, “Hello, lookee lookee.”

What we did hear throughout the day was, “Hello, Bamboo?” The lack of tourists at this time of year combined with the sheer volume of bamboo rafts available made this call a nearly continuous part of our day. We did finally take a ride on a raft the following day and it was a pleasant respite from pedaling. Unfortunately, due to unlucky timing we ended up in the middle of a Chinese tour group playing loud Chinese opera music and asking their oarsmen to get close to us so they could take pictures of Andrew.

Before the raft trip we cycled to Moon Hill and climbed up for some beautiful views of the area. Later in the evening we ventured into Yangshuo proper and walked up and down the main drag and had dinner. The tourist scene is alive and well there and you can buy your post cards and t-shirts with no problem. When we were there the tourists were predominately Chinese, but there is no shortage of pizza and banana pancakes indicating that this is a popular place for Westerners too. The thumping music and constant sound of vendors vying for your attention made me glad not to have stayed too close to here.

For more pictures check out our flickr site.

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