Shi Ban Qiao Village nr Yangshuo
3 Jun 2010
|Shi Ban Qiao, China: A Rural Retreat
03-09 June 2010
Journey & Accommodation
It takes nine hours to get from Shanghai to the small village a 25 minute walk from the centre of tourist Mecca Yangshuo. It involves no fewer than six types of transport: a subway train to the maglev train to the airport. A flight to Guilin then a shuttle bus from the airport to Guilin and a taxi from the drop-off point to the bus station where I had to buy a ticket. A bus to Yangshou's bus station then a motorcycle taxi to the village with the accommodation (negotiated with the help of a multi-lingual Frenchman). It is another Mini Adventure.
The accommodation - Tripper's Carpe Diem ('Seize the Stay') - is great, surrounded by beautiful scenery, peace and quiet. Our hosts - he, Tripper, is Belgian and Jenny is Chinese) - are excellent and can't do enough to help with everything from obtaining tickets to advising on Chinese pronunciation. The guest house is almost new, having opened in late April.
The 'village' of Yangshuo (population of 310,000!) is a centre of tourism in this area and is indeed often criticised for being very touristy. It is true there are many shops catering to the tourist industry including swathes of agencies who can arrange anything and everything to make your stay a memorable one. They do not push it at you though, or they did not push it at me, which is good. I am quite proficient at telling them 'I don't want' (wo bu yao, sort of pronounced waw boo-yow) in Mandarin.
Activities - A Walk
A group of four of us from the guest house - an Aussie, an American and two English - spent my first day here doing a long walk from Yangdi to Xingping. It was a good hour plus on a bus to Yangdi which terminated at the river Li. The walk involved crossing the Li River three times and we had been led to believe we could do so on bamboo rafts for 5 Yuan (50p). This proved to be a pipe dream and after much effort to negotiate with pictures and figures punched into calculators we had to accept that 10 Yuan was the cheapest we were going to get even though by this stage we had six of us. One or two of the group were getting a little hot under the collar about it all.
We made the first crossing and a local woman came off the raft with us to show us the way. What she actually did was ensure that when we had to make the next crossing we used the same boat which had followed us downstream!
It was an enjoyable walk and we did not get too lost. Xingping is a lovely little village where we had an excellent late lunch with fantastic ginger tea (sweetened with brown sugar I later learnt).
Activities - A Cycle Ride
The next day three of us, including the Aussie and another English guy called Chas, chose a day of 32 degrees to go for a cycle. It was a long cycle. And most of the first half was up hill. I was sweating buckets. We had to keep stopping to get out breath and to wipe the sweat from our eyes.
We ended up at the 600 year old Dragon Bridge on the Yulong River ('Long' means dragon). The route took us through villages and, on the more rural return leg, along some very narrow paths through paddy fields, which had a two-foot drop on both sides, so no room for error.
The guest house also arranged for TaiChi lessons from TaiChi master Kim. I took three which were very interesting although I am not sure I improved very much. I felt very unco-ordinated.
My next stop is Chengdu in Sichuan province, home of the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base. It will be a long trip. First I have to get to Guilin, which will take about 2-2.5 hours including a bus into Yahgshuo and an inter-city bus to Guilin and a taxi or walk to the train station. Then I believe it is a 26 hour train ride departing 13.35. I should get a chance to read quite a lot of River Town, my excellent book on China.
Until the next time...