Our next stop in China was the backpackers’ haven of Yángshuò (??), nestled amidst the beautiful karst peaks down the Li River from Xingping. We stayed in a hotel on West Street (??), which the locals refer to as “Westerner Street”. I couldn’t help thinking this was like the opposite of Chinatown.
This Engrish sign explains it all. On the first night there, we went to see the Impression Liu Sanjie Sound and Light Show at an awesome outdoor stage amongst the karst peaks, located on the water at the confluence of the Li and Yulong Rivers.
The show was a major production with a giant cast of 500 singers, dancers, and cormorant fishermen with their bamboo fishing boats and fishing birds.
The show was designed and directed by Zhang Yimou. If his name doesn’t ring a bell, think back to the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics and artsy martial arts movies such as Hero and House of Flying Daggers. Yep, he did those too!
The next day would prove to be our only sunny day in China. So I tried my hand at becoming a cormorant fisherman.
Okay, not really. But the weather was the perfect opportunity to jump back on the Li River…
And float downstream to the picturesque and historic riverside village of Fuli, famous for their hand-painted fans.
The town provided a glimpse of the charming countryside that makes the area around Yángshuò such a draw for backpackers.
To get an even bigger picture, we headed back to Yángshuò later that afternoon and hiked up to Moon Hill, a popular spot for rock climbers.
Once there, we were rewarded with a vista of the endless karst peaks surrounding the area.
The next day we decided to venture out deeper into the countryside. We hired some mountain bikes and were on our way…
We rode through uninterrupted farmland, meandering along the path of the smaller but equally scenic Yulong River.
We even had to make a river crossing at one point, on one of those dinky bamboo rafts we were seeing everywhere.
The highlight of the cycle trip was probably the lunch we had in a farmer’s house, which Erin will tell you more about later. But we knew that the best way to fully appreciate the dramatic scenery around the area, was by air:
Hot-air ballooning is popular in the area and we were excited to try it for the first time! We wanted to go on the one sunny day we had in China, but for some reason they took us on the foggiest day possible, so no photo for you. But this photo I found on Flickr shows what we missed out on.
Well, that concludes my posts on Southwest China. Coming up, Erin will tell you more about our culinary adventures through Hong Kong, Macau, and China. In the meantime, check out the rest of the photos from Yángshuò and Fuli Village.