Posted by: rob | July 15, 2007

Li River shenanigans

People visit Guilin and Yangshuo for the journey down the Li River. It’s a steep cost in a cheap country (US$75/person – note that you can get 20 nights accomodation in Yangshuo for the same price!). A bit of research led to discovering that the best 20km of the 65km stretch leads from Yangdi to Xingping and this could be done for very little. “Uncle Sam” on West Street would organise it for $16 which sounded a bargain. I should have known better.

As Kim has already explained this involved getting caught on a local minibus after it was pulled over for overcrowding and a watching a keystone cops style scene unfold before our eyes. Amid much shouting between ticket master and police the surplus passengers shuffle out and actually walk 500m up the road, where they will be picked up after the ticket has been issued. Eventually to Yangdi and realisation that we were doing this after hours (6pm) so as to avoid the usual taxes and licenses that boats must pay. The real cost is so expensive because the government takes the bulk of the money. A few minutes into the trip we had to duck into an iolated river village and wait for the river police to go past. Some of the villagers looked like they’d last seen a westerner in 1997. Word spread and more villagers came to look, included a man holding a freshly dead chicken.

Twenty five minutes passed with no policeman in sight but the boatman wasn’t willing to believe his lookout was wrong. So we were put on a only-just-floating bundle of bamboo (the fine must be less?) for a few kilometres and then the boatman picked us up again. By now the sun had set and opportunity to take photographs was not so great. Still, it was fun!



Travelling through China you are harangued many times a day, many times an hour, by chirpy young Chinese who apparently want to practice their English. Oh, they also all seem to have an “art gallery” to show you. The ruse is that you end up giving them money, either because you feel guilty (shame of our prosperity) after seeing the work, or scared, or perhaps after being mugged, or look at the work in over coffee only to get a bill for $100. So on the honking weaving bus from Xingping to Yangshuo when a young woman wanted to “practice her English” our first instinct was to pretend we could not speak a word of English ourselves. Not to worry, she really did just want to practice her English. She used to have an teacher who came from Surrey. Unfortunately, she died in a local bus crash, which is not the sort of thing you want to hear while on a similar bus. We heard on the TV that the road toll in China in 2006 topped 100,000. In 1996 it was only 10,000.


For all those who could see the Turtle in our picture of Turtle Rock, Mongolia, here is another brain teaser. Apparently this mountain shows a face when you look at it sideways. This time we really could see it but would not like to run into a person who looked like this in the flesh.




  1. I think I dated her once…

  2. Ah, I see the resemblance now.

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