|Guangxi, China||Yangshuo||2002.06.21 - 06.24|
Stretching about 80km from north of Guilin to south of Yangshuo is flat farmland speckled with thousands of limestone karsts. A bike, motorcycle, or boat ride through this beautiful landscape is an excellent outing.
Accommodation is plentiful in both Guilin and Yangshuo but most tourists choose Yangshuo. Guilin has the convenience of a major train station but budget accommodation is scarce. Yangshuo, on the other hand, is 65km south of Guilin, is serviced only by buses, and has a Western section (on West Street; not sure if this pun was intended.) Yangshuo in China is the Thamel of Nepal or the Khao San Road of Thailand. West Street is an escape from China within China. The street is lined with backpacker accommodation, Western restaurants, pubs, bootleg music CD shops, mountain bike and motorcycle rental, expensive Internet points, and trinket shops. After 2 consecutive months of Chinese stir-fry, we happily paid Western prices for some non-stir-fry food in comfortable air conditioned restaurants showing World Cup soccer games. 2 blocks away from West Street is completely Chinese with local food and Internet at local prices. Surprisingly, of the hundreds of tourists staying on West Street, only a handful is seen one block away.
Touts at the bus station and along West Street try to sell guided bike rides and boat trips. Alternatively, buy a ¥3 map of the area and rent a bike or motorcycle. It's impossible to get lost carrying the map with both Chinese and English characters. At each dirt path intersection in tiny remote villages there's always someone who will happily point the way.
Buses from Guilin train station depart to Yangshuo when they fill, approximately every 10 to 30 minutes. The fare (luggage included) is ¥7.5 each way but bus attendants are notorious for overcharging foreigners. From Guilin to Yangshuo, we were quoted ¥10, to which we replied, "OK ¥7.5 (chi-quai-wu)." After departure, the attendant tried to collect ¥7.5 from all the Chinese passengers and ¥10 from each of us. We had ¥15 exact fare prepared. The attendant tried to argue with us and shouted to the driver, but eventually gave up. On the return from Yangshuo to Guilin, the correct fare of ¥7.5 was requested. Other travelers we met had a similar experience but ended up paying ¥10 on the way down.
If coming from Hong Kong, direct buses depart Shenzhen and Guangzhou for Yangshuo. The bus journey is about 15 hours.
|Moon Hill is about 8km south of Yangshuo and easily reached by bicycle on the main paved road. Alternate circuitous routes are also possible through small villages on dirt roads.|
|The view of Yangshuo valley from the top of Moon Hill is rewarding after the hike up.|
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