Noilly Prattle

Monday, August 7, 2017

China 2017: 25 – final impressions; tying loose ends

     I will just post a few more impressions from the closing weeks of our China, Winter 2017 journey in Guangxi Province. These are images chosen at random, as they were taken, that, as a whole, summarize for me, the essence of my experience of the region: its landscapes and people. 


Yangshuo by night
fitness center in the park

stepping stones


Bad Panda - 2015

West Street tourist mecca


Wind Rain Bridge and Peach Blossoms

a smile is always appreciated
stone sculpture depicts
father carrying the baby


the old shoemaker


on the bus to Gaotian

non-electronic game center

local delicacies - dogs and cats

bicycling to Jiu Xiang

Jiu Xiang - a village seemingly forgotten . . .
. . . by time

karst mountain formation said to resemble a camel 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

China 2017: 24 – rafting on the Yulong

     Rafting on bamboo rafts along the Yulong River is the not-to-be-missed thing to do while in Yangshuo. The Nana Hotel staff arranged to have us join a group to go rafting one afternoon just a few days before we were to leave Yangshuo.

Li Jiang running high with much debris
       After a few days of rainy weather the Li Jiang river was running very high in the morning and we wondered if it would be OK to go rafting on the Yulong River. The Yulong is a smaller, kinder and gentler river than the Li Jiang. It is also divided into sections by a series of weirs that control the flow of the river—ideal for bamboo rafts that are poled by guys that I like to call “raftoliers”.

Jinlong Bridge Dock
Jinlong Bridge (background)
       The weather was almost perfect, cloudy, no rain, and moderate temperature. The van was full by the time we arrived at the Jinlong Bridge bamboo raft launch docks and we boarded the rafts in pairs. Our “raftolier” had me sit on the left (being heavier than R.B.) to counter- balance his weight standing and poling on the right rear side of the raft. We passed under the Jinlong Bridge heading south towards Yulong (Dragon) Bridge and on down the river to our Xiatang landing destination. The area around Dragon Bridge was crowded with day trippers (large groups who do a short circle ride up and down river only a short distance from the bridge) and we had to weave our way around and through them to continue on down to Xiatang.

day trippers
 heavy traffic at
Yulong (Dragon) Bridge

Yulong Bridge rafting dock

feet up for plunges over weirs
floating down the Yulong
  The river has several weirs to be crossed over and our raftolier indicated that we should raise our feet onto the seat edge before plunging over a weir. Rafting was a little like a mini-Huck Finn floating down the Mississippi. We even had a little adventure when our raft got stuck on a weir for a couple minutes until our raftolier rocked and nudged it off the rocks with a big splash and dunking when the “bow” hit the water. We got splashed a little, but not soaked!

stuck on the weir
taking the plunge

negotiating a weir  -  front

approaching a weir
I'm getting married on the rafting . . .
Ho-hum the guitar's gonna strum . . . 
       There were many weirs to negotiate. The rafts, more or less traveling convoy style often came together and traveled down the river in chatting distance while the raftoliers called, talked and joked with each other. There was as much life on the banks as on the river itself: ducks, photo-op wedding couples, ordinary people doing ordinary things, etc. The ride lasted about an hour and a half when we arrived at Xiatang Dock landing where, of course, the inevitable old ladies were waiting to sell post cards, flower wreaths, and other souvenirs.

follow the leader . . . 

gone fishing
R U looking at me?

idyll on a golden afternoon

on the wings of a snow white dove . . . 

where do I go? - follow the river . . .

end of the line - Xiatong Dock Landing
      Souvenirs means “memories” in English and it was definitely a day of many souvenirs of the non-commercial kind. 

Splish, splash
       The rafts float down- river. You may wonder how they get back up- stream? That's easy. They are picked up and loaded onto trucks, driven back upstream and dumped back into the river. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

China 2017: 23 – 800+ marble steps to Moon Hill

aboard the #2 bus
Yulong Scenic Area
     Not too far south of Yangshuo there is a scenic area with various points of interest in the Yulong River area. The Yulong is a tributary of the Li Jiang. We decided to take the #2 bus that we had scouted out a few days earlier to Moon Hill, one of the points of interest along the scenic route.

Moon Hill
       Moon Hill is an unusual karst peak with a hole in it that, from a distance, looks like a half moon and, according to the tourist literature, can change shape from full circle to crescent as you change your vantage point. Well, perhaps whoever wrote the tourist brochure was a little over excited or, maybe, a little intoxicated. It looked mostly like a half moon to me.

almost there
800 steps is 800 steps marble or not
       Moon Hill was the third of my “hundreds of steps” challenges after Yellow Dragon Cave in Wulingyuan and the steps up to the pavilion overlooking the Dong Village in Sanjiang. A notice informed me that it was “about 800 stairs paved with marble” up to the hole in the wall called Moon Hill. Marble, granite, concrete or old railroad ties, 800 steps is 800 steps. Since we were there, there was no point in not climbing the 800 steps to reach the “moon”.

the view from the "Moon"

a fire to warm your backside
"Yeah, whatever, it's cool by me!"
       It was a slog but we managed to reach the threshold of the moon and were immediately accosted by some old ladies not much younger than me selling souvenirs and drinks. We marveled that these crones climbed that damned hill every day to make a little extra income while we were huffing and puffing—the stamina and hardiness of these people is impressive. It's embarrassing to admit how spoiled and soft we are. The old girls were good sports though. It was a bit chilly up there and they had a nice fire going, so I bought a Coke and sat by the fire and engaged in some good-natured bantering with them while they tried to sell their postcards and more drinks as we all sat and mugged for the camera. Guess I can still turn a few heads . . . as long as they're over 65. Great fun!

the 1500-year-old Banyan Tree
rope-man seems to be
 talking on a smart phone
branch braces are actually living tree trunks
 ingrown with the branches of the Banyan Tree

       After climbing back down the hill we walked a couple kilometers along the scenic road to a 1500-year-old Banyan Tree. Apart from its impressive size, the interesting thing about the tree is that it has living trees for supports that are actually grafted to the Banyan. The Banyan Tree is popular with visitors of all ages—mugging for the camera, taking a raft to a cave across the pond, entertained by a quartet of performing monkeys. . .

holes in the limestone are a common feature
of the karst mountains
bamboo raft and raftsman

performing monkeys . . . resting 
performing madames . . . tadaaa
"Let's see, what can I shoot next?"

       After leaving the Banyan Tree we continued walking another couple kilometers to the Yulong River bridge. Rafting on the Yulong River is a popular tourist activity and the People's Bridge is the terminal point for rafting trips. 

Yulong River rafting terminal from People's Bridge

any old port in a storm
       After all that walking and climbing the “marble stairs” we were tired and caught a bus back to town. After a no fuss no muss junk food fix at the local Burger King in Yangsuo we spent the evening resting at the Nana Hotel. I worked on my notes and photos while R.B. worked on her blog (she can log on to hers in China—it's not, unlike mine, blocked).