Cycling Along The Yulong River & Cruising The Li River
One of the best ways to see the extraordinary scenery is riding a bike along the Yulong River. Here tourism is presently finding its way into the local farmer communities along the river. This area is undergoing a major transition: you see farmers working their rice paddies or taking their animals home in the evening, while others are building bamboo rafts or taking tourists down the river on these floating devices. Some people try to sell conic hats or fruits and most farmers along the river have added a few floors onto their modest dwellings, probably expecting tourists soon wanting to stay out there, away from the hustle of West Street.
All in all, the activities are still in a very innocent phase. Only recently, the dusty dirt road along river was sealed. Right now, the embankment is being added. Apart from the many bikers, tour groups are taken along this new small strip of concrete in small open-air mini-buses.
Another possibility to see the stunning rock formation close up is taking a boat trip along the Li River. There are many options, a full-day trip from Guilin to Yangshuo in a big tour boat, or covering only the most scenic stretch in a bamboo raft equipped with a little engine. We went the cheapest way, which means taking a public bus to the small town of Xingping and then another vehicle seating 6 people pulled by a motorbike (!) to a boat landing in the middle of nowhere.
Our vessel looked like a mini house-boat and only the tiny children’s chairs hinted at the fact that it was about to transport passengers. After going upriver for about an hour, we stopped at a pebble beach where villagers sold food and polished stone. Others had already joined in the “global photo option” and brought out their buffalo or cormorants to have their photo taken. Even though we have observed this “production” in so many countries all over the world, it is still amazing how absolutely identical these scenes are. Although here, it still had a bit of a naïve touch.
The trip back was a bit disrupted because the police was patrolling the river and our boat had no licence, so we pulled over on the shore. One of the Chinese tourists on board knew English well and kept us updated while we waited for them to leave.