To get to the Yulong River tour you need to hire a bicycle. After I rented my bike, I met my guide who led meup river several miles to where I would board our raft. The bike ride was quite nice and I passed by lovely mountains, rice paddies and quaint little villages. Everywhere in and around Yangshuo rest beautiful green mountains that make for such a nice horizon.
When I finally arrived at the starting point for my raft trip, I had to walk the last few hundred meters. On the way I passed a woman who was walking her water buffalos. Sometimes, when traveling, I just try to step outside of myself and realize where I am. Here I am in rural China passing a woman who is walking her buffalos. “Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas any more…”
At the dock, before I boarded the raft, I looked out to the horizon and paused to capture a photo of the beautiful mountains. The mountains really do give this area a very special look. Unfortunately, it was a hazy and cloudy day. This did “kill” the colors a bit on my photos, but the trip was still quite beautiful and I enjoyed it very much.
As I lazily floated down the river, I had a chance to enjoy the tranquil quiet with the lapping of the water as my boat driver moved his bamboo pole in and out of the water. The birds called as they flew back and forth and a family of ducks swam by quacking to their babies to hurry and follow along.
All along the route I passed little vendor “islands” that were actually floating docks that sold food and beer. Additionally, other rafts with snacks and drinks plied me for their business. My oursman, who I think received a kickback for any purchases I made, actively encouraged me to buy something – anything. He kept stopping at every dock and boat and the trip was quickly becoming spoiled; instead of a relaxing nature boating, I was resisting the sales pitches of aggressive vendors. Finally, I told our boatman that he should not stop at any more vendors. He reluctantly agreed but did not look too happy about it.
Eventually I approached Moon Hill. This mountain has a naturally occurring arch that resembles a huge donut – you can just see the opening in the photo below. The actual opening is much larger than seen in this photo as we are viewing it at an angle.
I passed over a series of small dams that acted a bit like “whitewater” and my boat crashed down a meter or two to the water below. It was quite exciting and I got splashed a bit. At the bottom of the first of 5 or 6 of these waterfalls, my boatman stopped at a tent where a photography team was selling photos of me coming over the waterfall. I think they wanted $10 for the photo. I politely declined and then ordered my boatman to NOT stop at any more of the photo shops. He reluctantly agreed and became even more agitated.
As I passed other boats, he would yell over to them and they would answer back. I speculate that the other boatmen were asking about his sales and commissions based on his less than happy (sounding) responses. I parodied the Chinese banter to myself:
“Hey Kang! How’s the sales?”
“Horrible, these cheap Americans won’t buy anything!
Despite the gloomy weather, the mountains were quite impressive and beautiful. The landscape along the river was fertile and green and provided some amazing vistas. When I come back to Yanghsuo some day, I will definitely make the Yulong River rafting trip again, but I’ll be sure to go on a bright and sunny day. I did stop a few times to get some snacks; sweet potatoes, baked corn and some other snacks. I offered a snack to my boatman and he took it, but he still looked mad…
The rafting tour ended at the Moon Hill bridge. Our guide had driven my bike down and I picked it up after I disembarked. The drive back to town was probably about 10 kilometers and took 30 or 40 minutes. It was quite an enjoyable trip and I highly recommend it to anyone who happens to be visiting Yangshuo.
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