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Published: November 20th 2006
After a dinner of Guinea pork the night before, Sam and I were ready for our cruise of the Li River. We purchased our tickets from an agency near the youth hostel. It appears that tickets are a lot less expense if they think you are staying at the hostel and don’t have any money. Granted the packages are quite different. Instead of a large boat that carries 50-60 people we were on a tiny mini barge like boat that would only hold 10 people maximum. The other package offered lunch and a bus back to Guilin but for 460 RMB versus 180 RMB we felt we could pay for a cheap bus ride and some bread (which we accidentally left on the boat). We were greeted at our hotel at 10:15am by an irate guide complaining that they had been waiting for 10 minutes and that we should be shot for being late for our 10:30 pick up time. The guide got off the mini-van at the next stop to make room so we could shoe-horn another passenger in for our hour trek to the boat launch. Unfortunately without our guide we had no idea which boat we were to
take until a small man bade us follow him down to the waters edge to board a tiny barge. As we ducked to enter our captain was setting up the folding chairs for 2 hour cruise. It was somewhat disappointing as the small boat pulled out into the river only to follow in line a series of 5 large ferries and several barge boats. Like the Huangshan (Yellow) Mountains were given a pictograph that displayed cute animals and strange names for the peaks and hills that we were supposed to see along the tour. Possibly if you closed one eye and squinted with the other you may be able to imagine some of the images. Along the river several yaks were grazing in the shallows. We stopped to a sand bar where several locals had set up shops selling crap, mystery meats and pictures with a yak (see Sam). The locals use this river like a common road and travel up and down it on rafts made of 4-5 large bamboo poles lashed together. To speed up travel several locals would grab hold of a passing ferry to be pulled along. The boat pulled over to the side of the
Sam with man & yak
Sam paid 2 Yuan to get her picture taken. The man wanted her to sit on the yak but she refused since she didn't want to smell like yak for the rest of the day's journey.
river and all aboard looked at the captain wondering where we were. There were no piers, or docks or other boats around just a path and some steps up to a road. At the top of the road Sam, another backpacker and I climbed into the back of motorbike/pickup truck thing. Holding on for dear life, we bounced through alleys into town. In town we were quickly herded onto want Sam refers to as “a chicken bus”. This mini-van was intended to hold about 20 people but more and more people were being shoved in. Bags of produce were piled in the aisles. People were sitting on the floor everywhere. This bus took us to Yangshou where we caught a bus back to Guilin so we could head off to Nanning. Nanning is the next city where we would be able to catch a train to Kunming, since all trains from Guilin were sold out of their soft sleeper berths.
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