Sunday, August 21, 2005

Yangshuo - The Great Chinese Outdoors

Juice Cafe - HCMC, Vietnam

A short (and somewhat tardy) note for the hikers/climbers/cavers/bikers out there - you know who you are (Tam and Rob J).

Yangshuo, China is a little city in the south bordered by towering green karst hills and a peaceful river. Only 1 hour from Guilin by bus (or overnight from Hong Kong), it is easy to get to and often very difficult to leave. Travellers intending to see huge swathes of China regularly get stuck and mostly benefit from it.

The town exists almost exclusively to serve the needs of foreigners relaxing in the countryside and the occasional load of Chinese tourists taking river cruises. The atmosphere is touristy but that is an easy evil to bear when balanced against the positives:
  • It is easy to live in comfort for less than 10 US dollars a day. This includes nice meals, and air conditioned room in a hostel/hotel with character, and a fair number of beers.
  • The surrounding land is beautiful, mostly empty, and very accessible. You can climb rocks, go underground, float on the river, hike, bike, or trek for days.
  • There is no shortage of other outdoor sports enthusiasts to play with. Also, all the gear you could ever want to buy or rent is immediately available and competition keeps prices low.
  • You can choose from a wide cross section of tasty food from around the world. Who knew that apple pie could be so could in China?
  • English is widely spoken and folks are friendly and helpful. This is especially useful if you have a complicated problem to deal with (like ulcers).
Although I myself am not an outdoorsy type. I heartily recommend Yangshuo to those of you that are.


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