I tried to get us to Guilin the last time we were in China eight years ago but it just didn't work out.
So I worked hard to get us there this time around, and it was every bit as beautiful as I imagined it would be.
This was a trip I was hesitant to take Lucy on. It was more of an adventure kind of a trip (bikes and scooters involved) and we slipped it in on our second-to-last weekend which involved late nights and early mornings since we couldn't leave until after Max's basketball game and there was a lot of every mode of transportation you can think of involved.
So when my friend offered to have Lucy stay at her house out of the blue one day we took her up on it. It was the best gift she could have given. Lucy was on cloud nine because she got to stay with her friend and the rest of us could really "run" while we were gone those two short days. (THANK YOU KATIE!!)
Here's Lucy's note of anticipation for my friend's daughter:
They had so much fun visiting Santa, walking the Christmas decoration area downtown, reading Harry Potter together, and all kinds of other fun things.
...while we did this:
The trip started out kinda crazy.
We didn't get in until after midnight and then had to figure out a way to get to Yangshuo the next morning. The options were to 1) take a taxi with no sightseeing which we just couldn't do when we were in that beauty-land, 2) take a humongous boat with a bunch of other tourists or 3) take part "private" boat, part tour bus to get there.
In our sleepy stupor at almost 2 in the morning when we got to the travel place we opted for the bus/small boat trip.
Boy oh boy were we ever in for an adventure that next morning!
The bus was there right where they told us it would be and we took the last spots in the back with all Chinese tourists. No one spoke a lick of English and as we pulled out on the road the lady in charge picked up an echoing microphone where she proceeded to talk as loud as she possibly could (sounded like yelling) in Chinese about perfume and other knick-knacks she was trying to sell for a good hour and a half. It would have been funny except that the kids were trying to do homework and we were going over the bumpiest, precarious roads through endless construction in that huge bus of ours.
This is how Dave felt about it:
Let me share a little glimpse before the road got out-of-control bumpy:
Finally the microphone was put to rest and the roads straightened out and we got on our little boats to float along the Li River and all it's glory.
Max and Dave shared a boat with an apparently newly-wed couple (above) and the girls and I chugged along in ours right close-by.
Let me take you there for a sec:
We were on that river for quite some time which gave Grace and I time to catch up on Arabian Nights:
Our lunch stop was interesting. There was just this little place on the bank of the river where you could go get rice from this monstrous rice-cooker.
After lunch our tour continued down the river.
When we finally came to our last stop we took some golf carts to see the skyline the 20 RMB Chinese note is taken from.
Apparently flower crowns are a big deal in Yangshuo so we bought one from one of the ladies selling them.
We stuck around a little just enjoying that beautiful place.
Our bus, chock-full of our new Chinese friends, dropped us off on the side of the road and left us in a puff of exhaust having no idea where we were or where our hotel was. Luckily we found a hotel relatively close to that that helped us find ours and we got all situated with this view right outside our door:
We fell in love with this cool little town where there was a night market.
The next day was my favorite.
We drove through some of the most picturesque and ancient little towns nestled right in the shadow of those amazing peaks surrounding them so majestically. We went through rice paddies and over little bridges and through mazes of teeny tiny streets. Grace was my videographer.
We followed this map like our little Bible and let me tell you, it was not accurate.
Finally we found the place next to the famous "Yulong" and "Fuli" bridges and took another little short boat ride from the ladies who were so anxious to take us.
Once again, we got totally lost on all those little side-roads until trying to find it until we ran into this sweet lady who offered to take us right to her "hometown" which happened to be Moon Hill.
There are almost 1,000 steps up this thing and it was a little more difficult than we expected.
But oh-so-worth it at the top:
We stopped in the little town one more time on our way back to the hotel for some refreshments.
I'm in love with Yangshuo. And my travel companions. And my friend who took such great care of Lu. And the beauty of this gorgeous earth.