Looking Back: Travels in Asia – Yangshuo, China

First post in more than two years! I certainly have some catching up to do. This post and to come will allow me to catch up on the last year of activities. As some of you may know, I recently spent eight months living Hong Kong with my wife, Maria, while she completed an eight month rotation for her job. This will be the first in a “Looking Back” series documenting our time in Asia.

We traveled to mainland China for the first time last fall. While a trip to a major city might have made the most sense for our first effort, we opted for the country side of the Guangxi province. More specifically, we spent a long weekend in the Yangshuo region. The photo above was taken from the balcony at our hotel, the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat, which is located along the Yulong River.

We flew into the city of Guilin and after a quick overnight, we made our way to Yangshuo via a four-hour cruise down the famous Li River. The collage and photo below include a few highlights from the trip.

The scenery along the way was truly breathtaking. Similar to Krabi, Thailand and Halong Bay in Vietnam, this region is marked by countless karst formations. When you’re floating down the river, the formations seem to go on forever. The above photo highlights a famous scene along the river, the image of which is featured on the backside of the Chinese $20 bill (the front side features Mao, of course).

The photo above features West Street (and Maria) in downtown Yangshuo. This area was mainly geared toward the tourist crowd, with typical “Asian” cuisine restaurants, Western bars and markets to buy cheap trinkets and gifts. We only spent the first evening in town and instead opted to spend most of our time in the countryside. You’ll see why below.

The photo above features the the riverside view of the Yulong River in front of our hotel. Not a bad place to spend a few days.

For our first full day in Yangshuo, we went for a guided biking tour of the countryside. It was pushing 90+ degrees and we rode for nearly 20 miles, but it was worth it. The scenery is spectacular and traveling by bike was a perfect way to get up close and personal with the region. I’ve included a few highlights in the photos below, along with a few quick descriptions.

The first photo was taking shortly after we started out on our journey. While we traveled on a variety of roads and dirt paths, there was also a nice network of paved trails. Above you see a few of the many water buffalo throughout the area and a cool looking old truck. Below is a photo of Maria with our guide. Note that we were sweating bullets all day and our guide didn’t seem to sweat a single drop!

The collage above highlights the small village of Fuli, which is famous for being home to several artisans that paint classic images of the Yangshuo region on fans, screens and scrolls. We bought a scroll painting from the gentleman in the photo.

I don’t recall the name of the village in the collage above, but it was located along the Li River and featured several older buildings. The photo below was taken from a highway as we were winding our way through the karsts. It was one of the most scenic moments of the day.

Shortly after taking that photo, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant just below the famous Moon Hill. We also visited a cave with mud pools and fake “natural” hot springs in the afternoon, but the photos for those two spots didn’t make the cut for this post.

The next photo features a path along the home stretch as we made our way back to the hotel.

And here we are at the end of our trip – exhausted and hungry, but it was well worth the effort.

We spent our last evening dining outside along the river and catching another fantastic sunset.

And to wrap-up the post, the last photo features a China red evening view of the entrance to the hotel.

Many thanks to Chris, June and Crystal & Karl for the travel tips.

Up next will be a few posts on living in Hong Kong and travels in Japan and New Zealand.