Better Than Guilin
Trip Start Jan 04, 2011
23Trip End Ongoing
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Fortunately the mountains cover a larger area than just around Guilin and a short 45 minute bus ride will take visitors to the smaller town of Yangshuo. While Yangshou certainly has certainly developed into a well troddened destination in its own right the town is much smaller than Guilin and fits snugly in between the mountains and river, which offered a beautiful view from the roof of my guesthouse
While walking the streets of Yangshuo it seemed every woman over the age of 40 years old would offer me a ride down the river on a bamboo raft. If there happened to be 3 of these women standing less than 10 feet apart from each other they would each, in turn, offer "bamboo raft" as a passed. Even if it was obvious that I had declined the ones before, in the hope that I had suddenly decided that I did indeed want to take a bamboo raft trip in those few feet it took to reach her from the last person I declined she would once again offer a bamboo raft trip.
OK, finally I did decide to take a short bamboo raft trip part of the way down the river and then hike through the countryside the rest of the way. Hiking through farms and local villages along the riverbank was amazingly beautiful and the super friendly local farmers I met almost always smiled back at me and responded in kind when I said "Ni hao". As I strolled past an orchard far out in the countryside, seemingly without another soul around I was suddenly startled by a woman who popped out from behind one of the trees to say "bamboo raft".
The only major thing that some might consider a downside is that it rained almost constantly the entire time I was in Yangshuo
After a few days in Yangshuo I decided to travel even further in to the rural areas of Guangxi province to an historic town named Huangyao. The town was rumored to have been named after the two families, Huang and Yao, that founded the town. Built during the Ming and Qing dynasties, Huangyao is about as traditional and idyllic as Chinese cities come. The old city is still home to over 500 households and there were very few other tourists while I was there. In fact, the city is so picturesque that it was used as the backdrop for scenes from the movie "The Painted Veil" and young art students can be found around the town painting the local architecture. This rural little corner of Guangxi province was not particularly easy to reach but well worth the trip.