In my opinion, books are the best accessory.
Starting another year here in Hong Kong… Just returned from almost a week in Yangshuo, China. Really enjoyed adventure and down time in China. Also, quite happy to be back in Hong Kong where there aren’t internet restrictions and we can relax at home for a little while before our next adventure.
Are you ready to travel into Yangshuo, China with us? We’ve learned that we’re pretty typical traveling people in Yangshuo, but we just loved the experience. One goal we had was to only go on two adventures a day so that we could still enjoy everything without getting burned out and have quality family time as well.
First off, the visas, the packing, and the plane ride… What would you pack? For us, a few boxes of granola bars were our main emergency backup and those boxes were quite helpful. I personally didn’t pack enough physical books, eBooks and audiobooks are coming out my ears but I really prefer to balance with books in my hand. I enjoyed what I brought! Shall share them in my next #IMWAYR, It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?, post!
So… We took the advice of a lovely friend at work and tried out a place called Yangshuo Village Inn and stayed there for four nights. Turned out to be a beautiful, clean, peaceful place to relax at and return to after many adventures through the week. Did you know that Yangshuo is China’s No. 1 Pastoral Town? So states a map we quickly bought to find our way around!
Our first day we decided it would be nice to walk up to Moon Hill. It was such a beautiful view from below, we want to see it from up above! I honestly didn’t realize how many steps there would be to get up to the top. There were so many!
At first, there were mostly helpful, very persistent women carrying water coolers who followed us up the steps trying to sell us water bottles (we had already packed 5) and once they finally gave up, it was nice to see the scenery and relax. But with all those steps… we didn’t relax too much!
Once at the top, we started to cool off a tiny bit and enjoy the view more. It was very humid and hot.
We looked, looked, and then we were ready for some air conditioning.
A few more glimpses of Moon Hill:
We settled back down at the Inn and relaxed. That evening, we hopped in a taxi and went to see some cormorant fishing covered with bug repellant and equipped with a buzzing mosquito repellant bracelet. It was an okay experience. (Remember how much I like being on open water? Not too much…) We waited on a bamboo boat with numerous people for half an hour without knowing what was going on, watching the boatman’s little child swimming around in the water, quite cute.
We were off at sunset and over to a cormorant fisherman who had his birds fishing. For those who aren’t aware, cormorants are birds that people use to catch fish. They have a rope tied around their neck to stop them from swallowing their fish and are pulled over and their fish are shaken out of their mouth into the fisherman’s basket over and over. Interesting to watch but boy were there bugs!
After watching fishing for a while, we went over to a rocky area and climbed out of the boat. The fisherman asked for volunteers, my husband usually volunteers first for things…. He then got a cormorant sitting on his arm and then eventually on his shoulder. My son wanted to do this as well but the fisherman wisely had him sit down for a special photo.
A bit more on the cormorant fishing images:
We rested well for the night and the next day got up early, had a delicious breakfast at the Inn and hopped into another taxi, this time to go over to a bamboo raft to adventure down the river. Yes, open water again, I certainly don’t want to miss out on it even though I am anxious most of the time on the water. So, first off, warning to timid ones, there is no patience for you. When I was told I had to walk across numerous rafts to get to the one for me, I balked. Then forced myself to go.
We were limited to two people riding per raft, so I was on my own. Interesting experience. It was almost a two hour ride down the river with some gorgeous, impressive, beautiful views. There are around eight dams as you go down the river. My family members had different reactions: clinging to the seat handles and turning oneself into a turtle and a WAHOO stand at the edge of the raft as you go over the dam. Which one is my son and which one was me? You guess.
Here is one warning, be prepared for sales all the way through the trip. As you get out of your taxi, people are selling water guns and flower wreaths who become quite disappointed if you don’t want to purchase anything. There are people set up along the way to take pictures and quickly print them for you along with selling water and soda as well. There is even a little floating restaurant roasting corn and barbeque beef or pork. Our boat guides insisted on stopping at the floating restaurant to have a break. (Quite appropriate to have a break!) They were disappointed that we didn’t want to buy anything there. I refused to get out of my seat every time we stopped and only got out at the end. – Partially because I was frozen in my seat, partially to stubbornness. *I liked seeing a water buffalo just mellowing out in the water, one of the videos below.
More on the bamboo rafts:
We went into the Yangshuo popular shopping area and wandered around for a while. In the evening, we met up with a tour guide who helped us get tickets to a light show and to a van that took us there. We enjoyed an impressive performance that was overwhelming. Liu Sanjie (Impression Liu Sanjie, Impression Sanjie Liu, the Liu Sanjie lightshow) is the world’s largest waterfront outdoor theatre. There were so many people, we were awestruck. There was beautiful backdrop set up with floodlights highlighting the hills around the entire area. We were not quite certain exactly what the show was about besides it being about a little girl, the explanations were all in Chinese, but it was carefully planned out and coordinated. There were hundreds of men, women, and children performing along with cormorants, water buffalo, and visually enticing props. The pictures I took absolutely don’t do the performance justice. I didn’t want to really worry about taking photos, was absorbing the show instead. I did take one video clip because I was in awe over the coordination of hundreds of people dancing with red fabric while balancing on their bamboo rafts across the water, wow. It was quite an interesting experience.
Unfortunately, after we exited, we could not find the van that should have taken us back to the shopping area. We waited, looked for the license plate, and grew frustrated after waiting 30 minutes when we watched every van pick up people and leave. We walked for half a mile to a town and asked a kind hotel clerk to call our Inn clerk. We were able to catch a taxi back to the Inn that way. Also, unfortunately, that was the evening of errors. My husband’s wallet disappeared sometime in the evening. We’re quite certain it fell out sometime between the hotel and our Inn. Even with retracing steps and talking with the taxi cab drivers we were unable to locate the wallet. The police stations were no help whatsoever. The stations do not work with one another and at one station, a police officer grew angry at my husband for following directions to wait for someone to get him for another station and yelled at him to go ride a bike over to the other station- without any directions or an address. This led to my husband trying his best on his own to get a taxi to take him to the other station, which was a complete fail… Part of life. Luckily, we only lost $500-800 Yuan (costly but not as bad as it could be) and we still had our passports with visas to get back to Hong Kong. Our personal learning: wear a fanny bag at the front with your money under your shirt… or some other secure way to track your money. Do not carry around all of your cash and id (we didn’t). Predict and carry only the amount you think you’ll use that day. Take advantage of the safe available to you for locking up your valuables. We were grateful for doing so. Relieved in fact that we were not in dire straights when the wallet disappeared. We were able to still adventure and not have the loss completely ruin the trip.
Moving on… The next day we met back up with our local tour guide, Sam of ‘Fun Sam’s Tours‘, for a ride on scooters around Yangshuo. This was lovely. I didn’t know how I felt about riding scooters. I do appreciate that they run on electricity and don’t go too fast. But I was nervous about riding around on two wheels, especially without a helmet. Luckily Sam, our wonderful tour guide calmed me down and I was able to enjoy the experience. Doug picked up driving a scooter fast, he used to ride around Hawaii years ago on one, and our little guy LOVED the ride. It certainly was cooler to ride a scooter vs. riding a bicycle for miles! We rode past villages, rice fields, melon crops, fruit trees, hills, and local people. I only took a few pictures but enjoyed it!
After we went to get a lunch back at the bottom of Moon Hill, we headed to a cave. Wow, it was beautiful. We opted out of taking mud baths/hot springs portion of the cave tour. I found it interesting to tour a cave lit up with colorful lights and signs to explain different views throughout. Especially after touring a cave in Halong Bay in Vietnam which had lighting but not specifically in this way. It was quite fun and beautiful.
After a little more riding around on scooters in Yangshuo, we stopped and relaxed, said goodbye and THANK YOU to Sam. Then we had dinner and enjoyed more family time. Great thanks to Sam for shaping the tour around our needs and being a great conversationalist! We highly recommend Sam’s tour guiding to anyone visiting Yangshuo! He even runs a bed and breakfast with his family, check the webpage out!
We did enjoy the Inn we stayed at. It was hit and miss on the food selection. We loved the climbers breakfast, chocolate banana milkshakes, and garlic bread but thought the sandwiches weren’t very good. We loved eating in the middle of the pomelo grove and relaxing without crowds and noisy people. My husband enjoyed the baked ziti, I thought the pesto pasta was yummy and surprising with raisins included, and my son enjoyed their chocolate banana pancakes.
The rooms were lovely, especially since they accommodated us with a large bed and a connected room with two twin beds. The rooms were immaculate and the philosophy of environmentally friendly rooms was wonderful to embrace. The views on the rooftop Luna restaurant were lovely to enjoy and it was relaxing to eat up there as well. We heard that their sister hotel is also wonderful. The Inn is honestly a little far out of the way if you want to be in the shopping district area but we were happy to avoid many tourists. It is quite close to caves, Moon Hill, and other hiking trails. There are tourist souvenir stands all over the place if you walk out of the Inn and after you see some, you’ve seen them all… There are some interesting tourist items to purchase but honestly, I’m at the point in traveling where I don’t get excited over buying souvenirs. I’d rather enjoy a good meal, absorb the local feel, adventure a little bit, and take a few pictures…
If you are returning to Hong Kong and you’ve lost your official Hong Kong id., will you have issues? Apparently not. Now, it would be a completely different situation if you lost your passport/visa paperwork which wasn’t the case for us. So now, time to relax for a week before our next adventure! We’re so excited to go learn Kung Fu and catch up with Lenore Look!!
(I didn’t include half of the pictures I uploaded in the post above, if you want to see more, especially about the local shopping and restaurants, they’re all included in the slideshow below!) I think my son’s big memory will be the delicious milk shakes he was able to enjoy. They were the same cost as fruit juice or soda and simply amazing. He will probably remember disliking corn juice just as much as the yummy memory…
Happy reading and adventures your way everyone!
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