Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Cycling around Yanghsou

Yangshou Old Street
We made it in time to catch our 8.10am bus to Yangshou, which ended up leaving 30 minutes late, and we joined the crowd and slept for the majority of the trip, only waking up as we neared the town which was when the scenery started to get good. We were treated to great views of the jagged karst mountains as far as the eye could see (although granted that wasn’t too far given the haze).

The bus arrived at 10am and we went straight to find a toilet and coffee. We snuck into KFC for the former and then found a nice place advertising a ‘Starbucks Quality Machine’ for the latter. Anywhere else in the world we’d avoid Starbucks, but coffee in China had been fairly hit and miss, more miss really, so we thought this would be a good option. In truth though, it was really the fact that it was air conditioned inside that won us over.

Beautiful river and mountain view with many rafts to cruise on!
Caffeined up, we walked through the lovely pedestrian streets which were less crowded than we’d expected. The ancient buildings and cobblestones with the majestic mountains made for a very picturesque experience. We wanted to hike up a nearby mountain for the view but we were told that due to road work we would only be able to get about half way and we would also be charged for the experience so we decided that it was too hot anyway for hiking. Instead we found a restaurant and ordered a few local specialities to try – spicy tofu, a plate of dumplings and hot pot eggplant. All three were delicious and really spicy so it was a good thing that we’d decided to also sample the local beer as it helped to wash down the heat!

Moon Mountain
Since the hike was off the agenda we instead hired bikes and rode out to Moon Hill, dodging the 100’s of tour buses that all seemed to be arriving for the afternoon. It was a hot ride, but Moon Hill is an interesting mountain with a hole in it at the top. We rode on to the river surrounded by karst mountains, it seemed the thing to do was jump on a bamboo raft with a colourful umbrella and float downstream. We were tempted to follow suit, except we weren’t sure if we’d have the time. We settled for refreshing ourselves in the cool river water and continued riding alongside the river, now not only bus dodging but also truck dodging as trucks were constantly going back and forth taking the rafts back upriver for the next load of tourists.

Delicious local dumplings
We took a different route to return to town and it was an enjoyable ride through the landscape but we needed some aircon to cool down in once we got back to town so we broke our usual ‘No Maccas’ rule and enjoyed a McFlurry with the aircon. We still had the bikes for another hour so once our body temperatures had been somewhat lowered we rode through town and along the river for a while. 

Dinner was a fantastic feast, again a variety of local specialities that we could find on the street: tofu, seafood wraps, squid balls, red bean buns, ché and so on and so forth. We were contentedly full when we boarded the evening bus back to Guilin. We may have forgotten to mention that every bus trip we’d had so far in China a movie was played, and so far without fail that movie had been one of the many sequels of Fast and the Furious and this trip was no exception. Since it was all dubbed in Chinese anyway we slept again, something we’re both getting skilled at doing in the sitting position!

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