Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Guilin & Yangshuo

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.
Everywhere you looked was simply stunning.

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:
 Reese wrote her a few too.  Such cute girls!
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:
and this:
and 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:
Ok...maybe even worse than that.

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:
And Elle and I studied our hearts out all about the Civil War for her history class.

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.
Apparently you could add items to the rice but we could never find a menu or anyone to ask so we just hunkered down with our rice bowls.

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.

Should have taken a close-up of the money but there's a mini below.

Apparently flower crowns are a big deal in Yangshuo so we bought one from one of the ladies selling them.

I wish I could have captured the smell...it was out of this world.

We stuck around a little just enjoying that beautiful place.

We boarded the bus again and headed for the little town of Yangshuo.

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:
That's when we rented out bikes and headed into the little town to find some dinner.

We fell in love with this cool little town where there was a night market.
With the towering mountains as a backdrop.

The next day was my favorite.
We rented scooters and headed off to explore.
I was driving and let's just say I've never driven a scooter before so I didn't do much capturing with my camera.
I just tried to memorize it all with my heart though because it was incredible.

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.
But combined with signs and people we found along the way we got along ok.

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.

From there we headed to "Moon Hill" to check out the view from above.

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.
(or at least she conveniently claimed it was for the tip we gave her, but she sure knew her way around and we were sure grateful!)

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.

From there we packed up and took off to get home to Lucy, homework, and another super late night.

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.


  1. Oh my gosh, that view is amazing! What an amazing trip.

  2. Yangshuo is my favorite place in China! We went through Budda cave while we were there. These pictures make me homesick for that beautiful place! Thanks for sharing. :)

  3. That is amazing! Your whole trip has been so fun to follow, thank you for sharing. What an awesome crew you have.

  4. How did you learn of all these great places to see in China, Thailand, and Viet Nam? My education was sorely lacking in school and just Western Civ is as far as we got. We barely mentioned the eastern history or South American history. So much I didn't learn that I need to learn about now! Your travels inspire me to learn more about this fabulous planet we live on!

  5. So glad you made it! It's on our bucket list! Fabulous photos!

  6. Another great post, thank you! I think you might have seen as much of China in four month as we did in the six years we lived in Shanghai. I though you might enjoy this article about how everybody should live in China at least once: http://thoughtcatalog.com/andrea-xu/2014/06/everyone-should-live-in-china-at-least-once

  7. After you showed that video sent by one of your blog readers, I was so hoping you guys would go see this place. It is definately on our list of places to take our daughter when we take her on her heritage trip to China. I want her to see how beautiful her home country is! So so happy for you! So beautiful and I adore the flower crowns.

  8. You are living my dream:) so happy for all of you and hope to follow in your footsteps in the future. What a gorgeous place!

  9. The pictures are breathtaking and inspiring. I have never seen a place like it! Amazing! Thanks for sharing your journey!


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