Thursday, August 20, 2009

Improbable Tour (part II)

During our Red Army tour of Guilin, we were taken to Yangshuo via a five-hour cruise (our guide drove 45 minutes to meet us at the dock) that would have been much more enjoyable had the weather been more cooperative. (My post about the cruise.)

We were given the option of heading back to Guilin that night or spending the night in Yangshuo--not wanting to head back to our hotel in middle of nowhere in Guilin, we opted for the hotel overlooking the Li River in Yangshuo. (Technically, my room had no windows while Jia's room was twice the size with a balcony overlooking the river, which was very pleasant the next morning.)

After our cruise, our PLA guide drove us around the countryside for some sightseeing. As any traveler who has spent some time in Yangshuo will tell you, the countryside is not what it seems. Even the quaintest of villages in the area are prepared for tourists--they'll have souvenirs and food ready. Still, it's beautiful to see the mountains that jut out--it's typical of many Chinese paintings, including the hand-ink painting I bought at Chen's College in Guangzhou.
For dinner, our guide had a small surprise lined up for us--he found a local guide who spoke English. And they took us to a restaurant in Chinatown. Three years later and I'm still confused how there can be a Chinatown in a town in China, but that was what our English-speaking guide told us.
Part of why we wanted to spend the night in Yangshuo was to experience the nightlife. Also, by staying there our guide was without a superior officer present and, therefore, could drink with us. He spent the first few days of our tour talking about all the things former president Bill Clinton saw on his tour through the region, and he was eager to show this foreigner how much fun Guilin and Yanshuo could be.

The following day we were supposed to have a bike tour through the town with our English-speaking guide, but the rain make that idea a little less desirable. Instead we walked the streets with umbrellas in hand (I'm still thankful I brought my water-proof Campmor coat that was purchased for my stay in London years before). I enjoyed walking the narrow streets where very few cars were allowed--it was quite a contrast to the chaotic streets of Shenzhen. Every storefront was welcoming, though overly touristy. Still, I enjoyed some of the cheesy souvenirs being peddled in Yangshuo--this was my first big trip out of Shenzhen afterall.

This young man was making a ginger candy that you can only buy in Yangshuo (supposedly)--it was quite tasty.

No comments: