One of the most amazing features of Yangshuo, China is the karst peaks that encircle the city. The sight of these rising crooked limestone peaks is something to behold in person, and the best place to really get a look at the peaks is along the Li River.
The Li River runs alongside the city and is the place for some amazing natural beauty. It is a must-do for tourists to take a bamboo boat ride to not only enjoy the river, but to see some of the small villages that are along the banks. We split the cost of the boat with a German couple we had met a few days before.
I should start off by saying that there is no actual bamboo on a ‘bamboo’ boat. It is a bunch of white PVC pipes lashed together and painted black. They’re not tricking anyone with their poor attempt at ‘bamboo.’ But the farmers and locals do actually use bamboo boats and you can see them the further away you get from Yangshuo.
Our river boat took over 3 hours and we got to explore 2 ancient towns. One was called Liu Gong Village and it was over 1000-years-olds. At the dock we were met by a young woman. We didn’t know who she was or what she wanted (money, we all thought) but she followed us around and told us things about her village.
She told us such things such as the population (a little over 1000 people), the history of the temple (very ancient, destroyed by the Japanese, then rebuilt only 4 years ago), and what happens when the river floods (she and her family had to move because the water was waist high in their home. They stayed with an uncle who lived further uphill.). As we started back to the boat she mentioned she ran a little restaurant and would we like something to drink? She had been so nice and helpful how could we refuse.
I guess the village has plenty of tourists visiting, but on that day we saw no one and there wasn’t any tacky souvenir stalls or shops that sold potato chips. (There was her humble restaurant of course but even that was hardly noticeable.) It was just a regular village with men working on the streets, chickens running everywhere and water buffalo chewing on grass. It was nice and quiet which is a rare treat in China.
The other village we stopped at was called Fuli Town. This is much more for tourists as the town specializes in making giant fans. Luckily it was a slow tourist time, and evening to boot, so no one bothered us and we were free to wander around and explore on our own.
We motored back to Yangshuo as it was getting dark and we got to sit back and watch the mystical seeming karsts fade into darkness.