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Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.

Journal Entry:

Saturday, July 05, 2014 13:21:02

CHINA 2014: 4 Chengdu to Yangshuo

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

We were driven to the airport where Helen ensured we were ticketed and at the proper security entrance before saying goodbye. The hour & a half flight to Guilin, a city of 5 million, was smooth, on time and guide Catherine was there to meet us. Guilin had over 200,000 of the very distinctive hills in and around it.

Out first stop was the tiger and Bear Park, a privately operated zoo for tigers and bears. We watched the young bears playing in an enclosure surrounded by a moat before watching the show, where tigers leap through hoops, roll over on command and sit up with paws in the air. Bears walk on their hind legs and ride bicycles, encouraged by a smack with a whip if they slow down. Although there was about three dozen people for the performance no one clapped - it seemed the audience felt sorry for the animals. I know we did.

The park is much as it was when we were there before, with little improvement. Some enclosures were large, forested with lots of greenery and murky pools, but the small concrete floored cages are still there, with their occupants, including a white tiger, pacing back and forth inside them. It did give Sela a chance to see these magnificent animals close up, though.

The next stop was in the magnificent Reed Flute Cave, where Sela was able to explore underground for the first time. Coloured lights illuminate the giant columns, reflect in the still pools and gave a feeling of true majesty to the cave. It was a welcome, refreshing break from the high outside temperatures and humidity - the cave is a steady 19 degrees C. (66F)

We checked into the beautiful Waterfall Hotel, where Marilynn and I stayed on our last trip to Guilin. We had a large, comfortable, recently refurnished room. The hotel was every bit as good as we recalled from our last stay. The hotel faces a lake, where boat tours are available, and beside it is a pedestrian shopping street with many restaurants. There is a large, popular square where the hotel's back wall becomes a giant waterfall each night.

We wandered down the shopping street, stopping for a beer and a light supper along the way, then walked around the square after watching the waterfall display. Sela got involved in painting with a number of Chinese children, as the square was full of coloured lights and activities for kids. We all wished we had allowed two nights for Guilin!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

From the hotel we were driven to the dock for the boat trip down the Li river, a 3 ½ trip through beautiful scenery with high mountains and many waterfalls. One section of the river is depicted on the back of the 20 yuan note. A buffet lunch was available on board, plus bar service. I once again had the very potent snake wine, poured from a gallon jar with pickled snakes curled up inside.

On arrival in Yangshuo we walked up famous West street, which is lined on both sides with vendors. I purchased a pure silk shirt for $13 along the way. They have closed the street to cars since we were last there. It was a considerable hike to where our driver from Guilin picked us up to take us to Fulin Town. It is shabbier than last time, with little of interest other than Sela getting close to a water buffalo for the first time.

We were dropped off at our hotel, the Yangshuo Mountain Resort, which is very isolated with fabulous views of a beautiful river backed by dramatic mountains. There was a nice balcony, and a perfectly appointed room for the three of us. They bill themselves as an eco hotel, giving them an excuse not to have any amenities in the room, not even water. Empty containers are supplied, but to get water one must go to reception - fortunately we had our own. There was no phone in the room, so a visit to reception was necessary to report a safe that didn't work and anything else we required. They did provide a decent sit down breakfast.

In the evening we were picked up to attend the dazzling show on a lake backed by 5 mountains. It was no less spectacular than when we were here last time, and was the main reason we came back to this region. There are over 600 participants and hundreds of rafts or boats in the production, plus miscellaneous water buffalo and cormorants. It is still the most amazing show I've ever seen - done after dark, with lights for incredible special effects.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Another full day started with a trip down the river that passes in front of our hotel on bamboo rafts, dropping over the lip of about 9 low dams en route. This was followed by a trip to the 1,400 year old Banyan Tree in its own park, which also features large plantations of lotus flowers plus waterwheels on the adjoining river.

In Yangshou city we had a great lunch at a local restaurant, after which Marilynn and Sela went shopping. I sat outside the restaurant and drank beer. When the ladies returned we went across the street for a rejuvenating one hour foot massage, then on to a small village where we attended a cooking class, with each participant cooking their own dinner of 3 appetizers and three main dishes. It was fun, as a really nice family of Dutch people were the only other participants, so there was a lot of good natured kidding about the coming World Cup football game between Costa Rica and Holland in two days. It was interesting, as people who asked where we were from, and we said Costa Rica, previously wouldn't have heard of the country, but now knew of it due to the astonishing success of the Costa Rica football team.

After enjoying our culinary efforts and downing a bottle of wine we were driven back to the Li River to board a motor driven raft to watch night fishing. We followed alongside the raft of a cormorant fisherman who had 7 cormorants, 6 of whom were actively fishing and bringing fish back their owner. Sela was able to hold one of the heavy cormorants on her arm, and had one sit on her shoulder, before we returned to the hotel to collapse into bed, exhausted.