Noilly Prattle: China 2017: 20 - cruising down the Li Jiang

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

China 2017: 20 - cruising down the Li Jiang

ghosts at 5 AM
     It was still dark when we got up at 5AM. A glance out the window showed a low cloud ceiling threatening rain. Sure enough, the weather worsened, the cloud ceiling lowered even more and it started to rain while we were having our morning pick-me-up coffee in our room.

      Checked out of the hotel at 07:30 and waited for our car which, due to the heavy rain, was delayed about 20 minutes. The drive in the rain was all dark rain-streaked windows and rush hour traffic. Traffic was extremely heavy and congested, especially the motor bike traffic—and endless stream of rain gear bedecked bikes and drivers sloshing along in their own bike lanes crisscrossing at intersections. It looked like something out of a Sci-Fi dystopia novel—unbelievable, but all the more so because it was true. It looked ominous for our boat ride down the Li Jiang. It seemed we couldn't have picked a worse day—all we could see was fog shrouded river banks.

passenger-staff argument
in the passenger cabin
     Our driver was very helpful and resourceful in helping us with the usual language problems. With his help (and smart phone translator) and the boat company officials we finally found and boarded the right boat. After about half an hour the boat got underway and started heading down the Li Jiang to Yangshuo where we planned to spend the next two weeks. As we headed south the clouds began to break and the rain abated.

terrified tot
       We soon began to see the familiar shapes of the well-photographed karst mountains. The rain had stopped and the cloud ceiling was lifting leaving patches of fog in valleys and sort of outlining and defining the mountain peaks. Most passengers were leaving the closed cabin and heading up to upper outside deck. It was breathtakingly beautiful and we realized how lucky (despite the inauspicious start) we were to be aboard at this time just after the rain. By now, just about everybody was out of the cabin on the top deck taking pictures galore, just like me. You sort of go crazy, like stuffing food until you can't eat anymore. Amazing that my battery held out. But, don't worry, I shall restrain myself with the pix.


survival lunch
      Once the passengers were sated with taking pictures of the karst mountains and each other and probably getting hungry, the crew served lunch in the main passenger cabin. The lunch included in the fare was more or less like airplane food (which basically means survival) and we finally arrived at Yangshuo's Dragonhead Quay.  

covered shopping arcade
       Pandemon- ium! There was a long roofed arcade (it seemed like a kilometer long) flanked with shops on one side and the Li Jiang on the other. Passengers had no choice but to walk the entire gauntlet of souvenir shops before debouching into the ordinary street. 

schmoozing and playing cards
       Finally out of that noisy arcade we still had to walk another kilometer or more pulling and dragging a small wheeled suitcase along cobblestone streets. The riverbank is nicely laid out with tables and seats for resting and schmoozing with friends, etc. We struggled along until, using a hand drawn map, we found our hotel, the Nana Hotel. By then there was some none too welcome sunshine and it got very warm, almost hot, lugging the baggage along the uneven stone pavement. 

       The Nana Hotel is in a quiet street, cool and shaded, surrounded by a garden and a small creek. Quite quaint and charming after the huge Li Jiang Waterfall Hotel in Guilin. Our room was a spacious corner room with lots of windows, a relaxing view of the garden and creek on two sides and a nice deep claw-foot type bathtub. Just the thing to soak away the exhaustion of the stressful walk into the town from the boat landing. 

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