We arrived in the beautiful karst region of Guiling/Yangshou. Jason had been to Yangshou a decade ago,and the town has become much more popular with tourists, with good reason. The scenery has stunning karst peaks, rice fields, bamboo groves and calm rivers. Yangshou has changed, with many more restaurants catering to westerners and the ubiquitous chains of McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken have moved in plus a multitude of other places offering “wood fired pizza”, hamburgers, spaghetti, western breakfast, etc. Additionally, as more Chinese move into the middle class and begin to take more vacations, the large Chinese tour groups flooding out of tour buses, led by flag-waving, bullhorn wielding guides have become a common component of the street scene in Yangshou.
But the reason to visit Yanghou is not the town, it is the surrounding countryside. From Yangshou we rode bicycles to the Yulong River (which doesn’t have motorized boats). We loaded our bikes onto a bamboo raft and were paddled down the slow moving river through the gorgeous scenery. This was a tranquil and great experience. We also hiked up Moon hill and saw the sunset over the amazing Karst landscape.
China has electric motor scooters, and we rented one to tour the countryside. The electric scooters are everywhere in the major cities, and it is nice because so many people use them but they are quiet and not nearly as polluting as the gas powered scooters. Other countries in Southeast Asia are plagued by noisy and polluting scooters, so it is a nice change in China to have most of the scooters powered by batteries. We spoke with some Australians who had ordered a smaller one for themselves. They are very good for commuters as they charge overnight and run for at least two hours on one charge. For commuting in cities, they are great.
We moved to the town of Xingping down the Li River on a bus through persimmon and citrus groves. Xingping has fewer tourists, souvenir shops and touts compared to Yangshou, and is like Yangshou 10 years ago (although it will change as more people come here to enjoy the scenery). Xingping has a dock area with many motorized tours departing and landing from the much busier Li River. We did a motorized trip here as well, and while the scenery is very impressive,the river is full of motorized boats and doesn’t have the same charm as quietly floating down the Yulong River. We are glad we did both.
From here we headed to Guilin, took the train to Nanning,and made reservations for a bus ticket to cross from Nanning over the border into Vietnam and into Hanoi. The bus dropped us at the border,and passing through took about two hours and was pretty straightforward. Then we got on a new bus on the Vietnam side and continued on the Hanoi.
***click to enlarge***