May 7, 2009:
Our original plan was to take a river cruise down the Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo, but our hosts at the Yangshuo Outside Inn convinced us that the better way to explore the beauty of Guilin (Yangshuo) was to take a bamboo raft down the Yulong River. So, on our first full day in Yangshuo we hopped on bicycles from the hotel and followed one of the staff from the hotel about 15 minutes down the road and through the rice paddies to the river. She then arranged for a bamboo raft for us for 120 yuan, which included transportation of our bicycles magically to the take-out point down river. We were both surprised at how many bamboo rafts there were! Even in high season later in the summer we don’t see how all those rafts could go down the little river at once.
The rafts on the Yulong River are made out of traditional bamboo, not PVC pipes like the boats on the Li River.
Notice how the driver is not using a paddle! No polluting engine either, just a bamboo pole and human strength! The water is shallow enough that a pole is used to push against the riverbed.
What an amazing ride! Of all the places we have visited, this ranks right up near the very top! The views along with the peaceful calm river made for an unforgettable stunning and majestic journey.
Right after each little rapid there was a stationary bamboo raft tethered in the river, with photo and printer equipment to take your picture and try to sell it to you. We didn’t buy any photos, and would have preferred not to have the floating photo stations clogging up the river.
This couple was having their wedding photos taken with an absolutely amazing backdrop! My camera couldn’t fit in the limestone karsts across the river, but I’m sure the professional photographer was getting some stunning photos. When we were first floating towards this scene I thought the bride and groom were standing in the water, but I was relieved to see there is actually a little out crop of land. There are some really amazing places to take wedding photos in China! Maybe Avelino Photography will book a wedding here someday… 😉
The ride is one-way only so it’s a good thing that our bikes were waiting for us at the other end, down river. Now we can see why this trip is preferred over the more touristed and boat heavy cruises from Guilin to Yangshuo! If you like nature, this is the ride to take!