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China - Picturesque Bike Ride & Yangtze River Cruise

sunny

So there we were in Yangshuo (southern China) after the long 15 hour bus ride. We were standing there on the side of the road, groggy headed and smelling like cigs. We hadn't booked a hotel and didn't know which direction to go to get to the main part of town. A guy came up to us and asked if we had a place to stay. He was supposedly the "manager" of a hotel in town. Its very common for solicitors to approach you at bus stops and stations. We usually just ignore them or tell them we are already booked, because we usually are. Besides we don't like to take offers for hotels from people on the street because there's a good chance it's a shadey deals. But in this case we figured we would take a look at his place and if we didn't like it then at least we would have had a ride into town. So Lynette hopped on the back of his motorcycle and I onto a buddy's bike, and with our bags tightly held, we zoomed off. The place ended up not being that bad so we booked two nights. After that we stayed two nights in another, slightly nicer hotel.

Over the few days we were there we enjoyed the area. The first day we just got our barings and checked out the local shops and restaurants, taking it easy. The next day and the day after we took bike tours through the countryside. There are a lot of women walking through town offering to give bike tours. We found one woman who seemed really nice so we booked with her. We rode out through the farms and small villages, with the huge rock karsts jutting up out of the ground all around. The views were spectacular. Our guide Wendy was awesome, probably the best tour guide we've had on the trip so far - very friendly and real. We had a great time. Along the way we stopped to hike up Moon Hill, a huge karst hill with a gigantic hole through it. At the top you can look through and view the entire magnificent landscape. It was really hot so the hike up was tough, but we had two "volunteer" women following us up fanning us as we went. Half way up we stopped for a rest and they offered us cold water, of course at a hugely marked up rate. But we gladly purchased some to prevent passing out from dehydration. Afterward we ate at a little restaurant at the base of the hill with a great view looking up at the rock formation. Our pork stuffed peppers, tofu, and dumplings were delicious.

Starting our bicycle ride, heading out of town:
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Later, after riding through some picturesque old villages Wendy took us and our bikes on a boat across a river. Once on the other side we then peddled to a local market which was off the beaten path so it was very un-touristy. We didn't see any other westerners there so it was a great rare authentic experience.

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Herbal medicines at the market:

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Lynette enjoying a refreshment back in town after the day's long bike ride.

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Once our time in Yangshuo came to an end we flew to Chongquing to catch our cruise down the famous Yangtze River, which is the third longest river in the world. I was a bit skeptical of the cruise due to the rough 3 day boat trip we took through Halong Bay in Vietnam. But my worries were squelched the moment we walked on board. The cool air-conditioned air hit me in the face and my body immediately went into a relaxed state that it stayed in for the four days on board. The small cruise ship was understated but quite nice and charming. Our room was cozy with a balcony and soft beds. (The Chinese love hard beds, but they are learning that Westerners differ here and they are slowly changing to please their Western customers.)

The Yangtze River has been big news for the past few years because the Chinese government decided to build the massive 3 Gorges Dam (the largest in the world) to improve navigation and generate much needed electricity for the country. This decision is highly controversial however because it would flood the river, therein submerging hundreds of towns as well as archeological sites, and displace millions of people. What this could potentially do to the environment is also a big concern. There are many pros and cons but the dam construction went forward and is now complete. The river level has already risen a great deal but is scheduled to be at full height in 2009. Supposedly the rising river level has detered the grandeur of the surrounding mountains, but not knowing what it was like before we were not disappointed. On the contrary, we were quite taken by the beautiful views.

We met some great people during the cruise, most of which had been to the Beijing Olympics. Its great to meet so many wonderful people from different countries and sometimes our own, all with interesting travel and life stories.

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From a few excursions during the cruise:
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Our last excursion was to view the 3 Gorges Dam:
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We were sad when the cruise was over. We liked being pampered for a few days. But we were off to the airport and took a plane to Shanghai where we are now. We arrived last night and checked into our hotel. We aren't sure what we will do here yet, but we have a few ideas. Once we figure it out we'll be back to share the experience.

Dave and Lynette
dbuck242@yahoo.com
lschimpf@gmail.com

Posted by schuckley 18:10 Archived in China

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Comments

Great to hear you both are safe from your all your Chnina travels. You are much braver than me. I think the one cow is smiling in your pic. :o) As always, beautiful pictures. Take care. Safe travels. Love, Angie and Family

by aprochaz

Dave and Lynette your blog is awesome! We just arrived in Shanghai today (9/3). I know you are only in town for a few days, but if you guys happen to find anything really cool (and not one of the popular hot-spots) you should let us know so we can check it out. Also, if you decide to stick around let us know (we get free internet in the hotel so we will be checking email at night) and maybe we can meet up for drinks.

Regards,
Dan and Lottie

danmeehan@gmail.com
lottieb@gmail.com

by chaoscat99

More amazing photos...and dialogue! I think the photo of the elderly folks is one of my favorite so far. There's just something about it that draws my eye. I'm so glad to hear you're enjoying your travels in China. It's one of the places that I long to see. :)

Happy Trails!
Love from your Southern Cuz,
Melissa

by sthrngrace

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