Thursday, April 03, 2008

Return to Yangshuo

We have returned to Yangshuo almost exactly 14 years to the day after our previous visit. While somethings have changed, some have stayed the same.

In 1994, we arrived at the boat docks at the end of Xi Jie (West St)after cruising the Li River from Guilin. The weather was hot and sunny. Sun-Ling remembers that she was wearing shorts.

In 2008, we were dropped off on the outskirts of town after riding the bus from Huangyao. We walked the 2 kms from the dropoff to Xi Jie in a chilly light rain with umbrellas up and raingear on.

In 1994 we stayed at an “under construction” hotel a few blocks from the river. John remembers getting a few flea bites. Today we are staying at the Yangshuo Overseas Chinese Hotel on the riverfront in a room with a balcony and a riverview. More on the hotel in a later post.

In one sense, Yangshuo hasn't changed at all. It's still a backpacker hangout. The Li River cruiseboats still unload tourgroups who then walk up to their hotel or to their return bus to Guilin through a gauntlet of souvenir shops and touts.

However, everything seems 10 times larger, newer, and slicker.

Instead of walking from the docks through Xi Jie, you can now take an electric cart on one of three routes to the bus station. The docks themselves have been upgraded and moved farther north to allow for more souvenir stands.

Young Chinese backpackers now outnumber their western counterparts.

The first store one sees on Xi Jie sells golf clubs.

Watching the local cormorant fishermen is not the only available night activity. You can check out a bar or disco or the local outdoor theatrical extravaganza directed by Zhang Yimou.

In '94, the few English menus we saw were handpainted on wooden signs and mainly offered breakfast. Now, there are dozens of large and small restaurants with English menus and/or English speaking staff serving all kinds of dishes both Chinese and Western. Last night we had dinner at a small place near the main road to Guilin. The owner did not speak much English but had a well translated menu - with prices.

Of course Yangshuo still has the awesome natural beauty of the rivers and limestone peaks. The changes reflect a more prosperous city. Judging by the number of hotels, many more visitors base themselves here, not in Guilin as in 1994. We hope the rain will let up so we can get out and enjoy.

Sun-ling drinks a cup of coffee on our hotel balcony.
Coffee on the Balcony - Yangshuo, China

Tour boat traffic jam at the docks.
Li River Traffic Jam - Yangshuo, China

Souvenir stands.
Yangshuo, China

Electric cart routes.
Yangshuo, China

Bamboo rafting on the Yulong River.
Dragon Bridge - Yulong River - Yangshuo, China

Awesome scenery.
Yulong River -Yangshuo, China

Yulong River - Yangshuo, China

Yulong River - Yangshuo, China

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