Li River Scenery

Shanghai    Suzhou    Wuhan    Yangtze    Chongqing    Xian    Beijing

Cruising the Li River

After another fine buffet breakfast in Shanghai, we headed to the airport, where we boarded a Shanghai Airlines jet to Guilin. After our flight to Guilin, we checked into the Guilin Plaza Hotel. Because the airline served a substantial meal that included soft drinks and beer (yes, it was all free), dinner that evening was canceled. But some of us decided to hit the hotel cafe for a drink or two and a sandwich or salad before bedtime. Forgetting about the warning not to drink tap water, some people ordered ice in their drinks. They paid the price the next few days, unfortunately. So, if you plan to go to China or to return to China, please avoid all tap water and ice. You will thank yourself. And now on to our cruise down the Li River.

Guilin to Yangshuo

The next morning we headed out to the Li River where we boarded a boat for a several hour cruise through the most beautiful country in China. To our delight, we ended up cruising with our German tourist friends whom we’d met and chatted with in Shanghai. Together we enjoyed a pleasant trip down the river and a fine lunch served on the boat. The kitchens aboard didn’t seem to be the most sanitary, but the food was good. I wish I could say nobody got sick, but that wasn’t the case. But in those instances, the cause stemmed from the water rather than the food. Lucky for us the toilets aboard were clean, even though they were Chinese toilets with a hole in the ground. I will spare you the details of how one has to use them, but I’m sure you can figure it out. It didn’t take us long to get used to them, and actually they are more effective than sitting on the throne, so to speak.

As we floated along, we saw intriguing rock formations on the cliffs. At one point, a spectacular crag resembled a snake. We also passed some small fishing villages.

Toward the end of the cruise, we stopped and boarded several small sampans and were rowed up a tributary of the river. In the past, the rowers wore no clothes to impress the eligible women with their prowess and physique. However, that has changed, much to our disappointment.

Although some people native to the area had planned a performance on the river, the show was canceled, because a day or two earlier a downpour of rain had flooded the the river basin, making the river too deep. Unfortunately, the downpour had killed two people in a nearby village.

Spelunking the Reed Flute Cave

We finished the cruise at Yangshuo, where we checked into the New Century Hotel for the night. After checking in, we had time to explore the thriving town of Yangshuo. While hiking about, some of us uncovered a cave with an imposing Buddha guarding the entrance.

The next morning, Sheila arranged for a tour to make up for the show that we missed the previous night. As it turned out, we had plenty of time to tour the Reed Flute Cave before our bus ride to the airport. The well-lit cave required us to walk slowly and be careful going up and down irregular stairs as we gawked at the beautiful formations of the stalactites and stalagmites. Our guide warned us to watch our step because the stairs and walkway were wet and slippery in spots. She advised us to stop when taking pictures. No sooner did she warn us, when someone in the group head of us was taking pictures as he walked and fell flat on the cave floor.

Aside from the various colors and the vaulted ceiling (nature's cathedral), the guide pointed out formations that looked familiar, such as one reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty -- here in China, of all things. Noting how the Chinese like to see animate objects in rock formations, we started joking about seeing other objects on the rest of the trip.

When we finished with the cave, we piled back onto our bus and off we drove to the airport where we boarded our China Southern Airlines flight to Wuhan. Although the food wasn’t as substantial on this flight, at least we got something.

To Wuhan