OUr bus dropped us off at Yangdi, a small village standing on the bank of the Li River. No sooner as we got off, a group of small girls swarming around to sell us flower wreath, vine wreathen stuff fringed by wild flowers picked from the countryside. The thing was fairly popular among tourists I saw doubles of them paying a small fee to have one. It's really cheap, only one yuan for a beautiful one. Many of our group had one. Looking at the innocent smile on their faces after a successful deal, I just wondered why those small girls didn't go to school when they should but making money by selling those cheap items. Afterward, I realized it's Saturday, but still felt sorrow for those little touts.
The Yangdi Dock was within our view now. The dock is pretty small and Li River gently flowed by. There is a public toilet near the dock which is of great significance for you won't find a decent one along the route (yangdi-Xingping). Toilets indeed are available in some villages you will pass but you may consider to avoid them. When walking along the Li River, there are several crossing points that you have to take. The first one is right at the Yangdi Deck. Our group leader, Jack Mo bought us tickets for the several cross we had to take ( I would like to thank Jack here for all he had done for us along the hiking). Crossed and walked downstream, we encountered a fairly long section of muddy path. The road condition in this part was so bad after a heavy rain yesterday. But I found it's really a fun experience, although I have my brand-new white shoes stained. I noticed not far off the road were some farmer cottages, many of which were brick works, simple but harmoniously integrated with the surroundings. Further are some limestone craggy pinnacles. The land has been little touched by the violence of steel, which now dominates our modern cities around the globe.
About 30 minutes walk further brought us to another riverside village, called Yangshi Village. Scenery around this area is marvelous. The river has its way southward calmly, pinnacles lining in the other side. There came the second crossing point. When we arrived, the dock was filled with tourists, a little crowded and noisy. The boat served taking visitors crossing the river keeping its engine on all the time but couldn't meet the great demand. Many locals taking opportunity of the developed tourism industry in the area, they have their small bamboo rafts stopped at the dock for business. I noticed there were couples of them. During the time we were waiting there, no visitors chosen to have them taken to the other side by those probably safety-problem transport tools, although the owners tried their best to persuade people to board their boats.
Crossing the river, we came to a tiny piece of grassland with booming flowers scattering everywhere. Many chose to have their photos taken there. The following road was a little tough with, many slope sections. Many venders offered their services in this part. Steamed red skin potatoes, a kind of vegetable widely planted in the area, fried peanuts, and steamed eggs were available on sale. It's generally fair cheap to buy one. 0.5 yuan for a smaller red potatoes and a little bigger one may cost one yuan. Many of our group tried, it was tasty. Further down stream, we reached a land where patches of fields were covered by white flowers. Three or four farmers were wielding sickles to cut down these beautiful flowers. The flowers are planted not for enjoyment but will be used as fertilizer. In another filed, an old farmer was tilling the land with an ox. The old guy and ox both stopped their work and gazed at us as we passed by.
Along the bank further downstream. We arrived at the Nine Horses Mural Hill which is one of the highlights along the river. It was so named because of the naturally shaped image of nice horses in different positions on the cliff, but unfortunately I could only find out four. The third crossing point came over right near the Mural Hill at a village called Mural Hill village. Here, standing on the bank, the river water flowed beside your feet. If you preferred, you could even stepped into the water and had an intimate touch with it. All of us were a little tired after nearly 5 hours walking. Jack was very considerate, he allowed us to have a short break. Two shops standing close the deck provided well shelters. The shop owners were very friendly; they offered us chairs, benches for us to sit. Xingping is still 8 kilometers far away.
We quicken our steps after that brief refreshment. Another highlight we reached was Yellow Cloth Shoal, where peaks are steep and the river is wide and quiet and a huge yellow flagstone lying under the still waters can easily be seen. The area gets its name from the huge flagstone at the bottom of the shoal. This area is extremely popular; streams of bamboo rafts with tourists on were seen cruising upstream. Owners on empty ones were yelled at the passing by hikers. Groups of tout were selling their items to tourists.
We arrived at Xingping at around 4 pm. A bus picked up us there and headed further to Yangshuo. Yangshuo is a tiny town set among craggy limestone pinnacles. The place has inspired many Chinese painters to brush their masterpieces. Hailed as the most beautiful place in the earth for centuries, Yangshuo has been on top of all travelers schedules. An old street-called West Street stretches from the main street to the Li River. CHT has booked us the West Street Hotel located at the West Street. The hotel is fairly well. We got a big double room with simple furniture, a balcony with a nice view of the street.
We tried the famous local dishes for our dinner. Restaurants serving basically the same food are plentiful in this town. Jack decided to have our dinner at Xiedajie(sister Xie) Restaurant. It is a large building block with more than 3 floors. But I'd rather to dine in a smaller one for this one was crowded, noisy and waiters were not friendly enough. Jack made a reservation in the noon but as we arrived at about 7 pm, we were told to have to wait for at least 10 minutes for the first course of our dish, the dishes, though, were very delicious. We tried the Beer Fish-a famous local dish that is supposed to be on the table of all who visit Yangshuo. As is common in Chinese cuisine, the whole fish was deep fried and then cooked along with beer, green peppers and tomatoes. Another tasty dish we had was the Stir Fried Snails. Yangshuo is well-known for its fat, juicy snails. Snails are abundant in the area and no doubt you will see them being harvested as you are riding around the countryside. After thoroughly washed, they are stir fried with pickle bamboo shoots, pickle peppers, gingers.
The bars in the West Street should definitely not be missed at night. There are many of them. We entertained ourselves at the Meiyou Bar.