Endangered Green Hill Paradise

Even though we enjoyed Guilin a lot, especially because of the cheap food which could be found on every corner, we had to continue further. One of the most beautiful sceneries of China was waiting for us. It was the area of round top hills surrounding the town of Yángshuò which is situated by the river Lí. For a while we were thinking of going from Guilin to Yángshuò by boat or bamboo raft but with regard to high prices we rather chose local bus. Due to dense morning traffic in Guilin it took us more than 2 hours to get there even though the distance between these cities is only 70 km.

After our arrival to Yángshuò we were observing beautiful green hills everywhere around us. The bus stopped on local bus station and we had to find our way to hostel. We already got used to the fact that nobody understood us so we showed directly a map with Chinese characters to some people. From the reactions of locals we assumed that the hostel was quite far from the bus station. “I will take you there for 20 Yuans!” was showing us one of the cart owners. We agreed and he took us to his crazy little cart. “How can we possibly squeeze in with all our luggage?!?” He managed to place our 4 backpacks on a very small deck and he also put a small bench there. “Sit down!” he said and we were ready to go. This town seemed to be smaller than almost one million “village” of Guilin. After 15 min ride he dropped us off in the center near our hostel.

Our dream about calm little village surrounded by hills was gone very fast. On the first sight it was clear that this was one of the top tourist destinations because there were groups of Chinese tourists, shops and overcrowded restaurants everywhere. We had to go through the crowds of tourists to get to our hostel. Fortunately our hostel was in little hidden street. We were accommodated in the last floor under the roof. It was very nice because there was a beautiful view of the town and Li River from the rooftop. We decided to go for a lunch and we immediately felt the tourist impact because classic Guilin noodles were 4 times more expensive than in Guilin. Better restaurants were unbelievably expensive and they were apparently visited by the richest Chinese and foreign tourists.

We went through the town and checked prices in local bike rentals for next days. In the hostel we arranged a short night trip – a local curiosity which is traditional way of fishing by using trained cormorants. That night we went on a boat to see local fishermen on River Lí. The fishermen were standing on their bamboo rafts and they had a little lamp which was illuminating water in front of them. “And where are the cormorants?” We asked. Suddenly, some of them started to jump out of the water. We got to know that these birds are trained from very young age and they are really good at fishing because they can stay under water very long time.

The principle of this ancient hunting method is that the birds have a ring around their neck so that they can’t swallow any bigger fish. When their throat is full the fisherman takes the cormorant out of the water and shakes all the fish out of its throat into a basket. “Unbelievable!” We couldn’t believe our own eyes that this was even possible. Our feelings were mixed because it looked a little bit drastic and also interesting at the same time.

We returned back to the town which meanwhile turned into Chinese Las Vegas. The neon lights were shining everywhere, the narrow streets were so crowded that it was almost impossible to walk through and the music from night clubs was so loud that we couldn’t fall asleep even in our hostel in side road. We felt sad about how Chinese people treat the nature. We didn’t understand how they could build all of that among the beautiful mountains that would be in another country certainly declared as a national park. We were looking forward for a trip to surrounding hills to avoid the crowds of tourists. For the next days we planned to go for a hike along Lí River and also for a bike trip along Yulong River. “Hopefully we can find there the real beauty of South China Karst!”


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