Yangshuo and Shanghai

Yangshuo ended up being a day trip from Guilin instead of a couple of nights as originally envisaged. I liked where I was staying in Guilin and couldn’t be bothered to move! The trip started with a short coach ride to Yangdi on the Li river. Then a couple of hours on a fake bamboo raft watching the amazing karst landscape slide by. The rafts take four passengers. Two coaches arrived at the pier at the same time so lots of rafts set off within a few minutes of each other. Our driver was something of a Michael Schumacher, slicing his way through the pack of rafts. The river is not very deep. In places the bottom, or the water weeds growing there were clearly visible. These were the calm undisturbed waters between the boats and the banks before the wakes from the flotilla churned up the surface, destroyed the reflected limestone stacks and turned the crystal clear water an impenetrable steely blue-grey colour. At Xingping we switched back to another bus for the short ride to Yangshuo.

The guidebooks are right; the landscape around Yangshuo is even more amazing than it is around Guilin. They were also right about the town being much more touristy. In some ways maybe not a bad thing – for the first time in China there were laundries everywhere, and internet cafes which have also been in short supply. Over lunch I met a, nay, the globetrotting mama. Heather and her family are on a westerly round the world trip. They had arrived in Beijing on the same day as me and have been to many of the countries I will be visiting. We traded advice on South America and South East Asia. I’m more determined now that Ecuador and the Galapagos will feature in next year’s travels.

The cheapest flight I could find from Guilin to Shanghai was 840 yuan, a soft sleeper train was 620 yuan and the sleeper bus only 480 yuan. They assured me the bus took 16 hours, the same as the train. They lied. It was more like 24 hours and it wasn’t as comfortable as the sleeper buses in Laos and Vietnam. Everything is relative though. The discomforts pale into insignificance compared to the privations endured by Ernest Shackleton’s unsuccessful 1914-1916 expedition to cross Antarctica. I read most of the account of the expedition on my Kindle while cursing the midget who thought that 5’8″(1.72m)  is plenty long enough for a sleeper bunk and 2’6″ (76cm) is plenty of headroom. I would have read more were it not for the usual too noisy crappy movies they insist on playing on buses in Asia and the (also standard) lack of working reading lights.

With half a day less in Shanghai than I had expected the best thing to do seemed to be take an open top bus city tour. Having paid my 100 yuan I discovered there was a second city tour bus company with more buses and tickets only a third of the price. Hopefully they only covered a third of the sights too. With frequent hopping off and back on I only covered two thirds of the route shown on the map. By the time I’d had enough it had been dark for a couple of hours. Shanghai is one of the largest cities in the world so I didn’t even scratch the surface. It is also the largest port in the world and fully a third of all the sea cargo in the world goes through it. Compared to the other cities I’ve visited in China it felt much more modern. There are some ancient bits but the bits I saw were colonial or contemporary. The sense of hustle and bustle was much more urgent than anywhere else on my journey. I have to commend it highly to any photographers. Go at night. Take a tripod.

There are some photos from the Yangshuo day trip and Shanghai at Flickr.

And so the Chinese and Asian parts of my journey are complete. Next stop Melbourne, next continent Oceania.

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2 Responses to “Yangshuo and Shanghai”

  1. tracy says:

    Hey Mark,

    Sounds like you are having a great time. Keep posting your adventures, us poor working folks are still living vicariously through you! As well as getting great travel ideas

    • Mark says:

      Hey Tracy,

      Thanks for commenting 🙂
      It’s nice to hear from you. Can’t bring yourself to jack it all in and go travelling yet then? Go on, I dare you 😉 Where would you go first?


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