This day was devoted solely to a cruise down the Li River, which was expected to be a highlight of the trip. The Li River didn’t disappoint!
The Li River originates in the Mao’er Mountains in Xing’an County in the north of Guilin Prefecture and flows south through the center of both Guilin and Yangshuo. South of Yangshou the river merges with two other streams and continues south as the Gui River, which eventually empties into the Pearl River.
The upper part of the Li River is connected by the ancient Ling Canal in downtown Xing’an(built 200 years before the birth of Christ) to the Xiang River, which flows north into the Yangtze.
The scenery is so fantastically beautiful I had a hard time narrowing down which pictures to post. I know there are too many for a blog post, but I couldn’t help myself. The cruise itself takes about 4 hours and covers 80 kilometers of the river from just outside Guilin to Yangshou.
Here’s one of the fishermen who make their livelihood on the river. Many tied up to our tour boat as we made our way down the river– he was just the first:
A steady rain was falling when we first set sail, but that didn’t dampen the scenery. It was still awe-inspiring. In some ways, the rain and fog made the otherworldly scenery seem even more fantastical:
And what was June so interested in?
Not the karst scenery. The ducks!
As the four-hour cruise wore on the rain started to ease up, but the fog continued to grace the mountains. Our guide Simon told us he had been unhappy about the rain, but once it stopped he was excited because the fog created scenery of the type most prized by Chinese, shrouded and sort of mysterious:
We even finally got to see one of the fabled cormorants used by some fishermen to catch fish. You can just make the bird out in the foreground:
Bug obviously had a great time!
We ended our cruise in Yangshou, which is a cute river town:
Unfortunately by this point, we were hot and tired, and the lane cruise passengers walk through to get back to ground transportation is a tourist trap of colossal proportions. We were even aggressively pushed by one vendor and (purposefully) separated from Simon as we tried to get off the boat. I think it scared Bug a little, but she recovered quickly. I was so put off (for the only time of the trip) that I didn’t want to stop and look at any of the vendor stalls. I wish I’d stopped, but at that point, after the manhandling, I wasn’t stopping at all.
We hopped into the van and made our way back to Guilin through the twisty mountain roads.
We had a fantastic dinner that night of hot pot, again right there in the neighborhood. If you’ve never had hot pot, you really have to try it. There’s a burner in the middle of the table, and the server will bring you a pot of stock (in our case, chicken) seasoned with various herbs and spices. We ordered meats and vegetables, and put them in the boiling stock to cook– first the meats, and then later the vegetables once the meat was done. We had chicken and pig stomach as our meats, and squash, mushrooms, and water spinach as our vegetables. You might be surprised, but Bug adored the pig stomach and hogged (heh heh) the whole lot of it. She also loved the broth once the meat cooked in it, but for some reason didn’t like it as much after it was flavored by the vegetables. It has to be one of the best meals we’ve ever had.
We made yet another Wal-Mart run to get peach juice, and then went back to the apartment and turned in early to prepare for the most emotional day of our trip, the visit to Bug’s orphanage.