Slow boat through China

Li River

A boat trip down the Li River is the main reason so many tourists from around the world descend on this little subtropical corner of China every year. Dozens of boats leave every morning from Guilin for the four hour cruise along the pea-green Li River to Yangshuo-the self-proclaimed backpacker and adventurer’s paradise.

Four teachers and 29 secondary students from our international school in Qingdao made the trip on the second of our four days in the south. After the journey, most visitors stroll around Yangshuo, have lunch, shop on West Street and take the two hour busride back to Guilin. We stayed the night and gave Yangshuo a closer and more relaxed look.

A gaggle of teachers line up for the customary group picture aboard the slow boat down the Li River in southeastern China.
A gaggle of teachers line up for the customary group picture aboard the slow boat down the Li River in southeastern China.

Along the wide river, we passed numerous waterfalls, small fishing villages with pontoon boats lined up along the shore and local people tending to their daily tasks, smoke rising from open wood fires. Water buffalo stand chewing grass at the edge of the river, and kids oblivious to the tourists boats ambling by all day, every day. The star of the show remains the mountains themselves looming around every bend in the river and remarkably pristine, thick with trees, birds and bamboo and largely undisturbed by humans.

along li River

Pontoon

Qingdao teacher, Chris Cronin is less than enthusiastic to the suggestion that he try a glass of the local spirit: Snake wine.
Qingdao teacher, Chris Cronin is less than enthusiastic to the suggestion that he try a glass of the local spirit: Snake wine.
Below deck and just before departure at the marina in Gulin, Alex and his fellow middle schoolers keep busy with rubric cubes, cards and sadly electronics of all sorts.
Below deck and just before departure at the marina in Gulin, Alex and his fellow middle schoolers keep busy with rubric cubes, cards and sadly electronics of all sorts.
Not everyone can be as excited as middle school students as demonstrated by the usual suspects of sleeping Korean high school boys.
Not everyone can be as excited as middle school students as demonstrated by the usual suspects of sleeping Korean high school boys.
Nearing the arrival destination of Yangshuo, some 100 kilometers downstream from its much larger neighbor Guilin.
Nearing the arrival destination of Yangshuo, some 100 kilometers downstream from its much larger neighbor Guilin.
Docking at Yangshuo presents the tourist, lulled into sleepiness by a big lunch buffet and long boat trip, an opportunity to be all out attacked by peddlers, pickpockets, and personal tour advisors.
Docking at Yangshuo presents the tourist, lulled into sleepiness by a big lunch buffet and long boat trip, an opportunity to be all out attacked by peddlers, pickpockets, and personal tour advisors.
A pair of commorants sit tied to  a pole in a display of the traditional (but cruel) practice of bird fishing.  This man does less fishing than he does posing for pictures. The price: 20 yuan.
A pair of commorants sit tied to a pole in a display of the traditional (but cruel) practice of bird fishing. This man does less fishing than he does posing for pictures. The price: 20 yuan.
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7 thoughts on “Slow boat through China

    1. We all liked Yangshuo more than Guilin since it was smaller and more calm. Despite the loads of boats, the river ride was a highlight. Thanks for your comment and checking out the blog!

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      1. Thank you Jean, it looks as if we have traveled to some of the same spots in the world. I missed out on a trip to the far west of China toward Tibet earlier in the year and am keen to see that part of China one day.

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