Friday, April 22, 2011

Rafting on Yulong River and Exploring Xingping

Day 2 (24 March 2011)

This morning, I woke up early as usual. I wanted to take breakfast and explore the town before the start of my planned rafting trip on the Yulong River. As I made my way down to the hostel lobby, I realised the light had still not been switched on. There was no one, but another Chinese guest who was waiting to get out of the hostel too. It was almost 7 a.m. already. The door of the hostel remained locked. With all the commotion created in the lobby, one of the staff appeared and opened the door to let us out. I found out later in the day that businesses only opened at 8 a.m.

The program for today was rafting at Yulong River. The day before, the hotel tout who happened to be a staff of the hostel offered a rafting package, which would take guests to Fuli and back. I was not keen on this but made it known to her I was interested in the Yulong River raft cruise. I discussed with her in my limited Mandarin my plan in taking public transportation to Dragon Bridge via Baisha and asking her how I would be able to return to Yangshuo.  She mentioned that she could help to organise the trip. However, the package from the hotel to Dragon Bridge and back was too dear for me at RMB200 and the trip duration too long, i.e. four hours. After hearing out other options, I decided to wait until this morning to make a decision.

This morning, I again have a few questions to be answered. The lady was there patiently explaining things to me. Finally, I decided to start the journey mid-way between Dragon Bridge and Gongnong Bridge on the Yulong River and ending at Gongnong Bridge. At Gongnong Bridge, I would need to hail a public transport vehicle to come back to Yangshuo. In the meantime, she would arrange for a guide to bring me to the departure point.

What a shock! The guide (or rather a motorcycle taxi driver) arrived at 9 a.m. The weather at this early hour was so cold and I was expected to ride on a motorbike. What the heck! So be it. With the numbing cold air biting on my hands, they felt painful. The ride was through some village roads and in less than 20 minutes, we arrived at the destination. I handed RMB10 to the motorcycle driver for his service and RMB120 for the raft. At the same time, I was besieged by the usual horde of aggressive peddlers selling plastic bags, rain coats and flowers. They were ignored.

The cruise on Yulong River passed through 6 – 7 weirs and a bridge before reaching Gongnong Bridge. It was over after about 1 hour 15 minutes. It cost RMY3 to get a ride on a mini-bus/ van (mian bao che) into town.

That afternoon, my plan was to go to Xingping for a night before returning to Yangshuo the next afternoon. From Xingping, I would be taking a raft along the Li River between Xingping and Yangdi to see what was considered the best part of the karst landscape.

After checking out from the hostel and stepping onto Pantao Road to go to the bus station, a bus slowed down in front of me with the conductor calling, “Xingping! Xingping!”. Hearing that, I stopped and boarded the bus. The fare was RMB7.

On reaching the bus station at Xingping, a crowd of touts rushed forward, jostling for business,  with one still holding her bowl of noodles that she was eating. One persistent tout followed me around, even though I told her I was not going anywhere that afternoon. My plan was to take the raft only the next morning. She was saying it could be raining the next day and that there was sufficient time to go and come back that afternoon, etc, etc. I just ignored her and said that I was looking for This Old Place hostel for the night. Instead, she suggested that I stayed overnight at her place not far from Xingping.

As I walked around with her following all the time, she eventually suggested that I stayed at another hostel, making negative comments about This Old Place hostel. I let her led me to the hostel she mentioned, just to check out the place. It was clean but there was some problem with the hot water plumbing. By then, it was too late since the deposit has been made. The rate was RMB60 per night.

Even after I have checked into the hostel, she was still there hoping to conclude her business for the afternoon. Again, I told her I would only be going the next day. By that time, I have raised my voice already. She even dared to suggest that I made a deposit to guarantee that I would take her service the next morning. If I knew how to say “fuck off” in Chinese, I would have done so. How dare she ask for the deposit when I was not even considering her service! My language handicap saved her the day. I just said no. I told her that her price was too steep. She was offering a package of RMB130, including transportation for a two way cruise, i.e. Xingping-Yangdi-Xingping. I told her I did not need the land transportation and she offered RMB120. I finally agreed, knowing the price is reasonable, and told her to be at the hostel by 8 a.m. the next morning.

After she left, I spent the afternoon exploring Xingping town instead of the planned hike to Laocai Mountain. As I walked around, I realised that many parts of the town had been left behind by time. The old section of the town was still intact and lovely. Across the bridge, there were a few clusters of bamboo grove. Walking along the road across the bridge would lead one to the spot for the best view of the hills depicted in the RMB20 note. However, for the many day trippers, they zoomed past all these in the tuk tuk, never realising what they missed.


  1. Sadly to say I did not explore much of Xingping as I was bedridden due to diarrhea on my only day in Xingping.

  2. The outskirt of Xingping is quite nice.

    I actually planned to go there a second time after returning to Yangshuo, i.e. after the Moon Hill biking trip. Unfortunately, I lost the afternoon on my second visit to Yangshuo and the next morning due to rain. I believe it is worth a hike up to Yangdi.