5.26.2015

yangshuo, southern china

{today i am posting from a layover in the rio de janeiro airport. we are thrilled to be back in the western hemisphere! hoping to get a tiny bit caught up during our time in buenos aires! you can follow along on our adventure in (almost) real time on instagram!}

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our first destination in mainland china was through the incredible karst landscape around the town of yangshuo in the south. my brother eli and sister shawni had visited this spot and we both really wanted to experience it after seeing their pictures! the dramatic and stunning scenery was even better in real life, and we had a really great time exploring this neat part of the world.

after a flight to guilin and a taxi to our awesome hotel (more on that later), we headed straight down to the river for a bamboo raft ride.

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^^ raft city! it was a pretty hilarious experience figuring out which boat “driver” to ride with! ^^
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^^ but we quickly realized we got the best guy as our guide. he was so lively and funny, and even let us take a turn pushing the boat (which is harder than it looks) – and he took a little rest while we did so! ^^
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i tried to cut down on pictures of our ride for this post, but i still have so many here! it’s because every single karst tower is different and i felt like the views just kept getting better. we saw some everyday life in rural china on the banks of the river, like these women and their wheelbarrow ^^
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^^ every once in a while we went over these dams, which made the ride just a little exciting in addition to relaxing! ^^
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^^ and when we got off it was so interesting to watch how they loaded the rafts on the back of trucks to bring back to the starting point. ^^
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^^ in china, we loved catching glimpses of the modern world in a place with so much history and evidence of the old world…like people on their cell phones everywhere! ^^
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^^ the walk back to our hotel. around every corner was a picture! ^^

after the bamboo raft ride, we hiked moon hill, which was very near our hotel. when we were talking to the owner of the hotel, jerry, about his recommendations, the views from this place were his number one. he told us that once we got to the top of the steps, there would be a sign that says passenger no entry with a trail further up. “when you see that sign,” he said, “you must go.” we figured that was permission enough, and were so glad we followed his advice as the views were just outrageous from the very top!

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^^ gotta love translations like this one, which we giggled at all over china. ^^
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^^ on the way down – the half moon shape in the mountain that gives this place its name ^^

and walking back to the hotel we were wrapped up in such a lovely pink cotton candy sunset!

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the next day, jerry brought us and some other of his guests on a little bike tour around fonglou village. we saw beautiful things and had a great time on the bikes (enough that we took them out on our own a little later as well!).

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^^ while we were in china, the traditional “tomb sweeping festival” was going on. we saw lots of old tombs like this and many of them were being cleaned by descendants of the occupants. in addition to a good scrubbing, fireworks were often shot off to scare away evil spirits. ^^
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^^ we got a little lost on our self-guided bike tour. which wasn’t too bad because we pedaled through a cool little village and found some amazing paths along the river (which also got us quite muddy!). it was an adventure.^^
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that night, we took a taxi into the town of yangshuo to check it out. it was so much bigger and more crowded than we expected, but very very cool! i loved the energy of the streets with huge karst towers popping up all around.

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^^ obviously ian had to try the fish foot spa! ^^
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on our last day in yangshuo, we rented a scooter and cruised to the town of xingping for another hike and raft ride. the rental experience was pretty awesome – we just showed up, paid about $15, figured out the basic mechanics of the scooter, and took off through rural china. we passed farms and villages and people all surrounded in karst mountains in the distance. on the way back, the scooter neeeeearly ran out of charge. we had to push it up the last big hill and for the last two km or so we were lurching our bodies back and forth in unison to keep its momentum going through the busy streets of the town of yangshuo (and giggling all the while!).

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^^ we liked finding the exact spot that is printed on the twenty yuan note! ^^

after we dropped off the scooter, we went into the town for a peek of the markets during the day and for some ice cream (we found this spot on the streets the night before and were blown away by how flavorful and creamy the scoops were!)

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we had three really incredible days in yangshuo! loved it.

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