The next day, we booked a rafting excursion down the Li River from the one touristy town (Guilin) to the other touristy town (Yangshuo). Seriously though, I had no problems with Guilin, but then again, we weren’t exactly downtown, so that might have helped. It was just like a normal Chinese town, except it has beautiful natural scenery hanging around in or close to town, and people there have ever seen a foreigner in their lives. So, I rather liked it. In fact, after we left, I found myself pining for our little dormitory beds at Wada Hostel and wishing we could just stay in Guilin while exploring Yangshuo. But that would be completely infeasible.
I digress. Back to the narrative at hand. We floated down the Li River on a “Bamboo” raft. It was nice, pretty chill, and of course, filled with beautiful natural scenery. The Li River float is one of the most popular things to do while in the area, and for good reason. The karst peaks towering beside the river are in all sorts of improbable shapes for mountains, and there is a lovely mist shrouding everything (though it makes it difficult for my camera to focus). It rained a little again. But not too much.
We arrived in a small village called Xingping and decided to take lunch there and regroup. We happened upon a nice cafe (no idea what it was called) and tucked in to another quite nice repast. I relaxed while my secretary (Emily, who is awesome and not afraid of calling strangers on the phone) undertook the strenuous and frustrating task of trying to find us a room for the night. Apparently it was the weekend of the Dragon Boat Festival, so most Chinese people had a three day weekend. Oops. So much for being in Yangshuo on the weekend. We tried to book a room at the place that Tiffany and Adam had recommended to us, but it was full. So then we tried the place Mark and Alicia had recommended to us, but it was full too. Then we tried a further place that I had discovered on the internet, but they were full too. So we decided to wing it. We ended up with a hostel double room for a good price, but unfortunately it was right across from a bar. Like, right across. That night, it was like they were playing music in our laps. And there was this guy doing terrible karaoke, and it was just bad. Real bad. We didn’t do anything much the first afternoon after we rambled around for awhile trying to find a hostel. After we found one, we needed a Mojito, so that was next on the agenda. Then, we trooped
around trying to find a hostel for the next two nights since the one we were at, besides being obviously unideally located, was charging more than twice as much for the weekend. We ended up finding this cute little place called the Climber’s Inn which was not only cheaper, but slightly better located (the bar was an alley away instead of a flimsy wall away), and had some cute French boys with long hair who played guitar and who I definitely did not talk to because I am a scaredy-cat, and was just all around cute, throughly pleasant.
The next day, we met up with one of my former students who lives in the area, Ivy from December session. She was a wonderful hostess. We also got to hang out with some of her friend of a friend of a friends who got us into the sites for cheap. Excellent. They were nice too. We had a packed day, going to the very famous Moon Hill, and climbing it. Lunch was at a little countryside inn, with low hygiene standards, but delicious food and cute babies (cute food and delicious babies?). The afternoon was spent at the Black Buddha Caves, which we got into for a seriously reduced rate (Ivy is awesome, have I told you?). The caves are just now being developed into an attraction, so we got to do cool things like touching the Stone Breast formation and checking out little holes and crannies. Later came the mud baths and hot springs. The mud is of such a consistency that you can float in it with no effort on your part! It’s like sitting in a mud chair! Or, if you flip on your belly, it’s like being a mud shark! I was very naughty, according to Ivy. I kept flinging mud on Emily and Ivy. hehe. I also gave myself a nice mud beard and mustache combo at one point. Whatever. That’s why our students always call us “naughty Pip and lovely Emily.” We’re like yin and yang man!
After a relaxing soak in the hot springs, we went to the big banyan tree park to meet up with Ivy’s friend, his friends, and their friends again. We also poled around the lake in a bamboo raft and generally had a relaxing time until sunset. Then Ivy packed us on to a passing slipshod mode of conveyance and sent us back to Yangshuo. And that was our day!