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Monday, August 5, 2013

Meet My New Favourite Town In China

I didn't really know what to expect when I boarded the boat early one morning to embark on a four-hour cruise down the famous Li River.  I mean, I knew I was going to see some jaw-dropping scenery, and by God, did I ever, but I wasn't prepared to fall madly in love with Yangshuo, a colourful backpacker's dream enclave nestled amongst the awe-inspiring limestone peaks, about a little over 70 kilometers from Guilin.  Yes, the town is touristy as hell but what sets it apart from other ethnic villages dotting the vast country are the amazing karst peaks, rivers, caves, rice paddies and the sheer number of corresponding activities (hiking, rock climbing, rafting, bicycling, spelunking, hot air ballooning, to name a few) for intrepid explorers.  And then there's Zhang Yimou's mightily ambitious water and light show - Impressions Liu Sanjie -  performed at the world's largest natural theatre.  The actual show was unfortunately a bit on the thin side but it is really that gorgeous backdrop of the mountain peaks with the river as the stage, and not so much the cast of 600 singers and dancers, that is truly the main attraction.

I'm going to have a separate post later on the food of Yangshuo, but here are some of my favourite technicolour memories of that day:

Tourists boarding the boats for a four-hour leisurely southbound cruise down the Li River.

View from a bridge in Yangshou


Five minutes before showtime - Impressions Liu Sanjie lights and water extravaganza by Zhang Yimou
Best natural theatre and backdrop I've ever seen


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