We were told the Prime Minister took the same boat on a cruise to Yangshuo recently, and even our tour guide was excited to get a chance to ride on this boat, so we felt pretty lucky. Our boat looked like this.
Everyone else’s boat looked like this
This was the view for our lunch. I’ll Photoshop Kiran to make her lighter when we get home.
I had a great lunch on the ship, but Kiran struggled quite a bit that day and throughout China actually since she doesn’t eat pork. Can you imagine a life without bacon?
Good boat/bad boat, the views are essentially the same on the cruise down the famed Li River to Yangshuo. We were told roughly 17 million people took a cruise down this stretch last year, so it is getting a little crowded, but nowhere near like Ha Long Bay. And, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think the Li River may be more beautiful than Big Sur or even Palawan (Grand Canyon is still number #1 however). Here’s what we saw – as usual, the pictures don’t do it justice.
The famous scene from the 20 Yuan bill
After four or five hours of this magic, we arrived in the town of Yangshuo. I think Kiran liked Yangshuo quite a bit (aside from being a ripoff she says); personally, I think the actual city of Yangshuo is a cesspool. I tried to find a picture to capture my sentiment.
McDonald’s is a good example, but KFC is King of China so this actually was my favorite one.
I think the town of Yangshuo is a shame. The picturesque surroundings are some of the most beautiful scenes you’ve ever seen in your whole life. But the town has been developed with so little thought or taste or class that somehow the buildings spoil everything around it – it would bring Frank Lloyd Wright to tears destroying such a perfect canvas. I heard the entire Li River area has applied for UNESCO World Heritage Site status, and I really hope they get it so they stop developing Yangshuo further. It is such an eyesore already, and I would not recommend anyone spend any significant amount of time in Yangshuo unless you like rock climbing.
Kiran planned all of China and I have to say she did an awesome job by booking a room at the Li River Retreat. The hotel is in the remote northern portion of the town, and we had to walk about a kilometer (1km =0.6 miles) through a forested path along the river to get to our hotel from the town. Our short hike payed off and we were awarded these views during breakfast every morning.
And we took a t’ai chi class one morning in the Chen form of t’ai chi. T’ai chi chen is closest to the original fighting martial art form of T’ai chi, so Kiran finally learned how to throw a punch. I wish I had a picture of that.
Lastly, Kiran’s parents aksed us when the best time is to visit China, but answering that question is like answering the question “When is the best time to visit the United States?” For example, August is the perfect time to visit Portland, OR, but August is a pretty miserable time to be in Dallas, Texas. Dallas is really nice in October, but one risks snow if you visit Wisconsin in October. China, like the US, is so big that making a generalization for the whole country about weather is pretty tough. Still, May is probably the best month. We arrived a little early in mid-April, and experienced some days of drizzle with highs only in the mid-60s in Guilin and Yangshuo, but we also had some hot and humid days with highs into the 80s, so all things considered, we were pretty happy with the weather. In fact, after days into the 100s in Laos and Malasia, a couple of days of 60s and drizzle was actually a welcomed change. The fact that we started in southern China helped, since Beijing can still be cold in April.