Sunday, June 3, 2012

Yangzhou China

I spent 4 days in Yangshou which is a town of 300,000 people, relatively small by china standards. It sits on the bank of the Li River. The Li River runs south from Guilin for over 400km but the most beautiful section is between Guilin and Yangshou. The Li River was selected as one of the world's top ten watery wonders by National Geographic. In 1998 president Clinton and Chelsea took a cruise down this section of the Li River. The weather is overcast and in the low 20's and very comfortable for touring.

Yangshou town is a very busy with tourists (you can see from the picture taken in the evening), so I stayed in a wonderful Chinese family boutique hotel (Yangshou Village Inn) outside the town in a village called Moon Hill - there is even an Italian restaurant (Lunar Cafe) on the roof of the hotel where you have the most incredible views of moon hill (a rock formation that looks like a half moon). By the way the restaurant's food is very good and reasonable priced - not to mention the million dollar view. The staff here can speak relatively good English and they have excellent customer service - best I've experienced in China.

The staff at the hotel recommended I do several things: hire a guide to take me biking, go to the Liu San Jie light show, and go to watch the cormorant fishing.

They made all the arrangements and the next day a tour guide arrived at 9am and we started a 2.5 hour bike ride through rice paddies and villages along the Yulong River (tributary of the Li River) all surrounded by karst limestone mountain peaks - totally breathtaking. One of the most interesting sites is watching the farmers working the rice paddies in the same way it was done 100 years ago barefoot and with an oxen. I find it interesting in a country that has such a modern city such as shanghai that the farming practices have not changed although the big north american farm machinery would not fit onto these small fields. The farmers are also having a problem working their land with reduced number of children and the children they do have want to go to school and do not want to work the farms. So what happens in 10-15 years when the current farmers cannot work the fields anymore - who will produce the food? Or perhaps it will be time to increase the size of farms and modernize! I hope they are planning for this eventuality.

I then took the 1.5 hour ride on a bamboo raft down the Yulong River - enjoying more of the spectacular scenery. I probably could have rented a bike and done this touring on my own but if you get lost in the village areas no one speaks English and I was concerned I might end up staying longer in china than anticipated.


In the evening I attended the Liu San Jie light show. The premiere of the Light Show was on March 20th, 2004. The performance utilizes the natural surroundings to create a spectacular outdoor theatre which is the largest of its kind. The Li River itself is the stage and twelve mountains serve as the backdrop (which are all lit up during the performance). The show includes modern and classical music composed by famous musicians in China. There are also over 600 performers who are all local people.

The show gives the impressions of the life of those people living around the river. It also gives an insight into the dress and music of the ethnic minorities of the area. The director of the production is the same person who directed the opening to the Beijing Olympics and has also directed films in China. This is one of the most spectacular productions I have ever seen - really world class and I was sorry it only lasted one hour but for most of that hour I had goose bumps!!!

A must see if you come here but treat yourself to a more expensive seat which gives a higher viewpoint.

I took time to wander around the village areas and to walk up the 800 stairs to moon hill rock for an incredible view of moon hill village. Although some Chinese vendor lady followed me all the way to the top fanning me - guess she thought I might pass out! However it is their way of selling you water or trinkets - I just gave here 20 yen $3 and said goodbye when we got back down - I think I am a bit of a sucker oh well.

In the evening i was taken into town and put on a small boat to watch the cormorant fishing. Cormorant fishing is a traditional fishing method in which fishermen use trained cormorants to fish in rivers. Historically, cormorant fishing has taken place in Japan and China from around 960AD.

To control the birds, the fishermen tie a snare near the base of the bird's throat. This prevents the birds from swallowing larger fish, which are held in their throat, but the birds can swallow smaller fish. When a cormorant has caught a fish in its throat, the fisherman brings the bird back to the boat and has the bird spit the fish up. Though cormorant fishing once was a successful industry, its primary use today is to serve the tourism industry.

On the boat I met a couple of gals from Tahoe who are EMT's with the fire

department. We ended up working our way through the crowds and going for a drink - Marianne, Sean, michelle I now have connections in Tahoe!

My last day in Yangshou I lazed around reading a book and enjoying the scenery from my balcony and then I ventured into town and did some last minute shopping - boy I have become quite the negotiator. I bought some shoes - not for me - guess who!

I could not resist taking a picture of a menu outside one of the restaurants where they serve dog meat - no I did not try it! Goodbye china hello Thailand !



  1. Wow.... Love all the things you are doing... You managed to get Photos within your blog???

  2. I am still really enjoying your posts. It's great that you are now putting your pictures inside your posts!!

  3. Nice pictures, but you really ought to correct your title & some of the body text. You went to YANGSHUO, not YANGZHOU, a city in Eastern China.