The second half of our big activity day was a trip on the Li River. There are all kinds of options from a full day trip on a fairly large boat from Guilin down to Yangshuo to an 1/2 hour trip from Yangshuo to Yangshuo. In our quest for information on Wulingyaun, we came across the only travel agent (here) who knew how to get there.
Sort of in passing, we decided to to go on a "bamboo raft" trip on one of the most famous parts of the river; the Xingping Town area. It was already pretty late in the day, after cooking school and lunch, so we got our stuff together and took a local bus to Xingping. It is about an hour trip, past miles of farms and the usual surreal landscape.
At Xingping, we get on the river on our "bamboo raft". On the Li, the bamboo is really a set of ten metal tubes that look like bamboo including the slight taper and the ridges; the boatmen use outboard motors rather than poles which is a good thing because the river is big, fast, and strong.
Almost every hill seems to have a name – sort of like Yosemite. One of the most famous, of which we have no idea of the name, is on the 20 yuan bill, and a very popular location for weddings. As you can see here, there are several lucky couples checking out the location.
Along the river there are flocks of ducks that we thing are domestic ducks just out for an outing. They are great fun to watch, sort of popping out of the water to shake out their tail feathers. Ducks really are intrinsically funny animals to watch.
Along both sides of the river, the area is pretty wild, which is one of the most surprising things about China; how much of it is still wild. I guess it is a result of being wet and hot, if not outright tropical, so everything grows quickly.
Also, the farming seems to be in harmony with nature. Chickens are running around the farms eating the bugs, the irrigation ponds are also carp ponds, on the side of the fields are little clumps of mint and basil. This is not like the Italian landscape where the Romans cut down all the trees two thousand years ago for their hot baths. (From what I've read, The Romans were as addicted to wood as we are to oil – finally denuding Italy and north Africa and then fighting the Germans for their forests.)
Anyway, at one of the most famous hills (something like "seven horses jumping"),
we turned around and went back down river as the sun was setting.
The boatmen at Xingping were wrapping up the day,
and we got on a local bus for the trip back to Yangshuo. But we were early, so we sat and watched the bus driver, the conductor, and a few regulars play cards to pass the time. All the buses seem to have a flat table over the engine which makes a great place to put packages or play cards.
A long day that ended with our first Kung Pao chicken since we have been in China.