Travel in Yangshuo: Cruising the Li River and Exploring Silver Cave

Courtesy of my hostel in Guilin, I booked a bamboo boat ride down the Li River to the town of Yangshuo.

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The Li River

The tour began with a bus ride to the Li River dock. IMG_8947While on the bus I met a food stylist from London who had been traveling around Asia on a foodie venture.

So far, her favorite cuisine has been Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup.

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Vietnamese Pho, courtesy of Google images

Shortly after arriving at the dock, we boarded our “bamboo raft.”DSC_1733Side note:  our driver may have eaten all the bamboo, because our raft was actually made of PVC. 😛IMG_8926Any who, we strapped on a few life vests and were on our way! 😀
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The Li River is absolutely stunning, with endless karst mountains fading into the horizon.
DSC_1743We looked so tiny amidst their towering peaks.DSC_1736Fun fact:  these karst mountains formed over 200 million years ago, when a shift in tectonic plates caused India to collide with Asiaraising the ocean plain, and exposing these sea rocks to surface air. continental-drift-of-indiaThis bioerosion, from harsh winds and rain, created the beautifully sculpted peaks you see today. 🙂DSC_1750We floated down the Li River for nearly two hours, before landing in Xingping Ancient Town.DSC_1753DSC_1752DSC_1730From there, we took a bus to our final destination, the backpacker haven of Yangshuo.

Rafting tour cost: 30 USD, including bus transport to Yangshuo.

Accommodation 

While in Yangshuo, I stayed at Wada Hostel for 7 USD/night. 
hosteldIt’s there that I met Iva, a Slovakian traveler, who spent the past five years studying tourism in China, and spoke fluent Mandarin. 

With Iva, I was treated so much nicer by the locals, since she was able to communicate in Chinese.

Iva was able to get us a discount on motorbikes, and we spent the next day riding around the Guangxi countryside. 🙂IMG_9013Our first stop was for some local street food- ham and cheese crepes, and freshly grilled fish.
IMG_8953fishdFrom there we rode past Moon Hill, a natural limestone arch, the result of a deteriorating cavemoonThere is a walking trail up that hill, offering gorgeous panoramas of Yangshuo. 😀

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courtesy of Iva

We rode for over an hour, passing karst mountains, rapeseed fields, and the peaceful Yulong River.

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boats actually made from bamboo 😛

Our final destination was Silver Cave, a limestone cave filled with awe-inspiring illuminations

Silver Cave

Now I’ve seen many caves throughout my travels, but all I can say is, “Wow! Wow! Wow!” 😀

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Stone Screen of Music

Silver Cave is over a mile long, runs through 12 mountains, and encompasses over 28 scenic rocks such as this.

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Snowy Mountain Waterfall

The cave is filled with hanging stalactites, composed of mineralized crystals, which causes them to shimmer in the light. To visualize this, I made a short video of the sparkling Silver Cave. 😀


Cost: 13 USD, plus a bit extra for some tasty street food on the way out. 😛DSC_1756

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steamed buns filled with peanuts and sesame paste

Now I ended my night chatting with a Chinese girl at my hostel. She had moved to Portland when she was young after being adopted by an American family. As an adult she returned to China to rediscover her roots, but had been feeling discouraged, since she hadn’t been well-received by the Chinese locals. 😦

She said she never really identified herself as being American, but felt now like she couldn’t relate to the Chinese culture either. She doesn’t speak Mandarin, and behaves more Western.

My only insight to offer her was encouragement that she took the first step in coming here. I found this Chinese proverb to be particularly relevant based upon her struggles, my personal experience, and on the natural landscape that surrounded us .

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. -Lao Tzu

From personal experience as an expat, I have realized that finding acceptance in a new country is not easy, and it must be even more difficult, and emotional trying to find acceptance in a country you once called home.

I have learned though, that with strength, determination, adaptability, and above all, time, it’s possible to accomplish this goal. Hopefully, she can take a cue from nature, and not get discouraged that her acceptance was not immediate, but will eventually come with time. 🙂

Anyway, that’s all for nature’s wisdom. 😀

The next morning I boarded a shuttle bus to the airport, where I was off to my final destination, the island of Hainan. Stay tuned to here about this unconventional visit, plus some insight on visiting China as a whole. Until then. 🙂

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