Monday, November 06, 2006

Goat Sighting - Exploring Yangshuo in China

This Trip Report comes from Goat in Yangshuo, Chinacustomer Keith Mrochek who along with his wife spent a couple of weeks exploring various areas of South/Southwest China. He also took along his goat sticker (seen on his pack).

Yangshuo is a town located among the Karst limestone formations that stick out of the river valleys and rice patties in the South/Southwest portion of China. It has grown to relative prominence primarily as a result of its role as a tourists' and backpackers' haven. Despite that fact, there were relatively few Westerners around - which was fine with us.

The region surrounding Yangshuo allows for an amazing array of outdoor activities including mountain biking, hiking, rafting, canoeing, caving, rock climbing and general exploring.

The area is so beautiful and captivating that we found ourselves taking so many pictures in and around Yangshuo, including pics of the nearby village/town of Xingping, the Li River and from a biking trip we took around the outskirts of Yangshuo.

(side note - A local girl/guide who took us around the area on bikes - her name was Chen Chu Feng ("Rose") was absolutely great - if anyone is heading to the area and wants her contact info, I'd be happy to provide it).Exploring Yangshuo in China by bike

From the imgaes you can see how the rock climbing in the area would be great - the Karst limestone makes for innumerable great routes. Unfortunately, I had my shoulder surgically put back together a couple of months ago and wasn't able to climb on this trip (which, of course, means that I'll have to return).

We then explored the Longsheng area (which is about 4 hours north of Yangshuo) where the Longji Terraces completely had us in awe. This is located in and around the DaZai and Pingan villages. We spent the night in DaZai and were the only tourists in the village the night we were there. The following morning we went on a 4-5 hour hike with a local woman that took us to Pingan. An interesting cultural aspect is that the local Yao women who cut their hair only do so once in their lives at the age of 18. They wear a big bun on their heads and although it is covered in a
scarf, our hiking guide had about 5 feet of hair that was twirled about her head.Longji Terraces in China

Although Beijing has huge pollution and traffic issues, it makes for a fun town to explore. Though travel writers constantly tell you about the demise of the hutongs (one-story courtyard neighborhoods), there are still significant areas of downtown Beijing that are nothing but hutong alleyways.

Last stop on our trip was the Great Wall. We hiked the portion from Jinshanling to Simatai - a 4-6 hour hike depending on your speed. We would highly recommend heading out to an area like this (about 2 hours from downtown Beijing) rather than just going to the portions of the wall nearest to Beijing where hordes (in this case, not the good kind) of tourists are constantlyKarst limestone formations in Yangshuo, China unloading. We saw only four other hikers during our time on the wall - though we were followed for the majority of the trip by some locals looking to sell us postcards or other souvenirs in exchange for advice on how to maneuver about the wall's more beaten up parts and the pleasure of their company.

We will most certainly visit China again in the near future (and, in fact, are already working on plans for a trip to Tibet next year). One could easily spend months in the areas around Yangshuo.



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