Sunday, August 17, 2008

Guilin Vacation: Day 2

Li River Boat Ride
Originally uploaded by jimwink

On the second day of our Guilin trip, we first headed out for a motorized raft ride on the Li (pronounced Lee) River. After the 45-minute bus ride to the destination, we found that the scenery before us is featured on the back of the 20RMB bill. The raft ride was advertised as being a bamboo raft, but the Li River has a stronger current than the Yulong, so for sturdiness sake (and probably ease of construction) they use PVC for the raft and furnish it with bamboo chairs.

Lawnmower engines that were converted into boat engines powered the boats; the drivers would steer by placing the engine left or right in the water. This ride was not as peaceful as the ride when we had a gondola-like driver. The scenery was awesome, we saw: magnificent landscapes, people on the shores washing clothes, ducks on the water and banks, and water buffaloes swimming to name a few.

At the southern most point on our raft ride, there was a small market place set up on the shore. The neatest thing here was the fishermen who had cormorant birds on bamboo poles. The men (we saw only fishermen, no fisherwomen) tie the birds to bamboo poles and let the birds do the fishing. Jim was upset because after we took pictures, the man started asking for money. I told Jim we should just pay the 4RMB ($0.58) and be done with it, which we did.

Buddha Cave
Originally uploaded by jimwink

We ate a late breakfast back in the town and then headed back to Yangshuo to go on a cave tour. The cave we toured, features two paths a dry cave and wet cave. The cave is called the Buddha Cave and it gets its namesake from one of the first formations you see, a large Buddha. When we entered the cave we were told to put hard hats on (understandable) and take our hiking shoes off and put house slippers on (what?!?!). So we did as the Chinese do and put on our vinyl slippers. A French couple was also on the tour with us, and they were as stunned about our required cave apparel as we were. After about 5 minutes in the cave, we realized this was a very Chinese experience, as this type of tour would never be approved for tourists in the states. OSHA, the ADA, or some other governmental agency, would have major objections to tourists crawling through tunnels 2.5 feet in diameter, scaling down formations 5 feet tall with only a rope.

While conquering these feats, the tour had a photographer who would snap photographs. So for instance while trying to navigate down a stair-like rock formation, the flash would go off and blind us at the most inopportune time. When we reached the end of the dry cave, we found out that the tour was not circular in nature, but an out-and-back course. Thus, we now had the opportunity to do the opposite of every action we just did.

Eventually the slippers made sense, when we started the path into the wet cave and we were walking through waters anywhere from ankle-deep to upper calf-level. The water was clear and cold. Not sure if we would drink it though.

Jim slipped at one point, while telling Rachel to be careful of her footing. He scraped his elbow and knee, but the camera was OK!! At the end of the wet cave, there is a mud pit; the locals call it a mud bath and claim it’s good for your skin. They jump in with their bathing suits; we decided not to.

Of coarse at the end of the cave tour they tried to sell us pictures. Jim did a little bargaining and was able to buy the whole set for 30RMB ($4.36). Instead of burning a CD though, they put it on one of our memory cards. Click on the pictures to see the whole set. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Teresa in Tunisia said...

We also have to pay to take pictures of some of the sites in Tunis, so I wasn't surprised by what you said about being charged! You guys are very brave to go into such an OSHA approved cave!

Have fun in TX!!!