Today was the day. Today was the day we got to see the Guilin mountains. Mountains that are so beautiful they adorn the Chinese 20 Yuan note.
This was one of the things I was looking forward to seeing since i’ve become addicted to feets of nature since our trip to Taiwan’s Taroko Gorge. Guilin did not disappoint.
We set off on our trip and arrived in a small port surrounded by pushy , scary Chinese woman. If Lee hadn’t have been there I’d have been rolled into a ball screaming ‘stranger danger’. Scared enough to buy all their oranges and flower garlands but luckily he helped me stand my ground.
We carefully boarded our bamboo boat and set off. We moved through the mountains and mist almost becoming accustom to the view. It was awe inspiring and definitely worth the trip. We were a little unlucky with the weather but not even grey skies can detract from these views.
Our favourite part of the day was making our own names for each mountains. I don’t think they would have been appreciated by the Chinese though. ‘Sulky gorilla yawning’ mountain seems to lack the poetry that the Chinese provide for these hills.
The trip ended and we drove the rest of the way to Yangshuo where we instantly decided to stay for the night. This pretty little artsy town is geared towards tourists but it feels very relaxed. Surrounded by the mountains and filled with good cheap food made it the perfect stop over. We stayed in the Green Forest Hostel’s Yangshuo branch, which was even better than the Guilin branch. I wish time would have allowed us to have spent a lot longer there but sadly two days was all we had time for.
Later in the day we dragged ourselves from the delicious street venders (spring rolls , i heart you) and headed on a river cruise to another smaller local village. This time we were taken by a real bamboo boat that was rowed for us instead of a motorised one like earlier in the day. We also got to experience a special showing of the Yangshuo fisher men. These men use birds to fish for them. It seems horribly cruel since a string is tied to the birds neck so he can’t swallow. Once he catches the fish the fisherman takes the food. At the end of the day the bird is rewarded with fish. I still question whether this is fair or not. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t even question going to see it when we bought the day trip ticket. I had seen it on a BBC documentary and surely nothing you see on the BBC can be bad?!? I did question the ethical nature of it though.It’s hard to question such an ancient art that takes years to master. There are only 5 men that still know how to fish like this so I don’t think it will last forever and to be honest I don’t know if this is sad or just. It’ll be sad for the local area when such an ancient culture disappears but then again…those poor birdies.
Once we started sailing the river cruise was perfect ..well it would have been perfect if we hadn’t have had a 18 year old idiot driving us. This boy thought it was his personal mission to talk and yell at every other boat on the river. The beauty and peace is a little ruined when your driver is wolf whistling and spitting everywhere….but we still managed to enjoy it.
I think everyone who goes to Guilin is already sure they will take the trip down the river but a stay in Yangshuo and the additional cruise (which cost us about 12 pound) is something we’d recommend. If you are going to travel all that way, it makes sense to see as much of the place as you can. And what a place it is.
A last word of warning would be that Yangshuo is a beautiful place but as soono as it gets dark this place becomes a crazy nightclub town so make sure your hostel is well away from the party street…and have a good time.