Guilin to Yangshuo on the Li River

Friday 5 September

One of the most enduring visions of ancient China is the misty limestone castes (or karsts) in the Guangxi region.

Our opportunity to see them was on the Li River cruise between Guilin and Yangshuo. We spent most of the four hour cruise on top deck as gentle landscape transformed into stunning castes, adorned with misty wisps. At the climax of this journey was an area where tourists come for a “quick look”. The water was dotted with little boats, weaving and wending their way around our larger cruiser.

We met fellow travellers from Australia, England and Italy and each couple had a guide accompanying them who would appear to point out particular features in the shape or shading of the rocks. The local farmers apparently have a long history of creating and telling stories of the rocks.

Our guide had arranged a one hour bicycle tour around Yangshuo, a great way to see the countryside and visit a village home. We don’t ride bikes very often and I finished the two hour jaunt (who said one hour?) with an even deeper respect for those silly men who spend three weeks on their bikes touring the sights of France.

After a welcome 2 hours R&R, we saw Illusions, an outdoor spectacle set on the Li River. Designed by the same person who designed and choreographed the Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, it was a mass of moving colour reflected in the water with a backdrop of the limestone castes.

Local farmers and young children make up the cast of 600 performers. While the acts in themselves are not spectacular, the movement and voice of hundreds in costumes that glowed and torches that burned, in an enormous outdoor auditorium, made an amazing Olympic like performance.  There were many “wow” moments.

After a long day and an early start tomorrow, I hate to admit it – but in touristy Yangshuo, we ate pizza and drank beer at a German restaurant.