Back to Nature
Staying at the Yangshou Village Inn was a trip back in time. We stayed in one of the rooms in a restored farmhouse, had breakfast and post hiking beers in the shady Pomelo grove. Dinners were on the roof top (4th floor) terrace overlooking the village and looking up at the famed Moon Hill. The entire area is covered with Karst mountains and small villages. Yangshou city, about 5 km away, is a bit of a crazy tourist place. Hundreds of buses of Chinese tourists visit the area on any given day. We briefly braved the crowds, hopping the 3 yuan mini bus on the highway into the city one evening....hopped a quick taxi back to the village after about an hour, opted for a delicious meal on the terrace. We hiked up Moon Hill the next morning---800+ steps carved into the trail.... a relatively brutal climb...a beautiful view back towards our village once we got to the top. A motorized bamboo raft up and down the Li river made for a more leisurely afternoon. The following day we hiked along the river for several kilometers taking in the scenery, including many a water buffalo. After walking a couple of hours we hopped a little 3 wheeled cart (moments before heat stroke set in) for the rest of the way to Dragon's bridge. Apparently the map we had consulted was not drawn to scale. The Karst mountains keep enticing one on with the thought that just around the next one....we'll be there. And Anna is legendary for her "Oh, its not so far......" Once we got to the bridge we contracted a raft, a rather strange non-process, a bit of a mystery to unravel. The bamboo rafts on the Yu river drift with the current and one goes over a series of weirs, some a few feet of a drop--pretty hilarious. The front of the raft submerges and your feet and sometimes your seat get wet.The rafts take two persons in a sort of recliner bamboo chair secured to the raft. The 'driver' stands behind and poles the raft along. One sits under a standard multicolored "beach umbrella". We drifted along and spent about two hours getting back to where we had started our hike. There all the rafts are pulled out of the water, stacked on little diesel dump trucks and hauled back up to the starting point. It is an amazing continuous process. At the starting point they are dumped back in the water.
The following day we lazed around, lingered to read in the Pomelo grove after breakfast. I spent awhile wandering the village itself. In the afternoon we headed to the 1400 year old Banyan tree park about 1-2 km down the main road. Inadvertently, after seeing the actual tree, we ended up on the backside of the park and began walking along a village path. In our minds the path would ultimately bring us back to the main road...wrong again. We ended up behind more Karst hills. It was interesting seeing how people live and farm in these small places. We were a bit shaken when two massive water buffaloes charged out of the pond they were lazing in---we must have startled them--they certainly startled us. After about 90 minutes we did mangage to wend our way back to civilization. We reconnected with the main road not far from our village. Made it home just as the rains started. We enjoyed a cool Tsingtao under the umbrellas in the grove.
Staying in a small, out of the way, place had some terrific advantages. The Inn had excellent food, both Chinese and Italian, with an excellent wine list. When staying in a big city, figuring out where and what to eat is one of the often not so fun parts of the day. Having a wonderful breakfast and a great meal on the terrace in the evening made our stay most relaxing and enjoyable. No tv was a plus and wifi was terrific. We slept with the windows wide open a couple of nights.