Yangshuo: A Place Which Will Always Be Closest To My Heart
A visit to Yangshuo is incomplete without venturing into the countryside, and the best way to do it is by bicycle. For ¥20, you can rent a bike for the entire day. For another ¥40, you can hire a local guide to take you on the best routes and to the most scenic places. I recommend hiring a guide if it’s your first time. You can easily get lost in the winding trails. Thankfully, I had Jerry who was more than familiar with the various routes.
The day began at 9am. Shortly after breakfast (noodle soup of course), we pedalled out of Yangshuo’s busy core, dodging traffic, and headed for the surrounding rural areas.
Deeper and deeper we went into the countryside, engulfed by rice paddies and the towering, leafy peaks. The views were incredibly photogenic, beyond picturesque. I must have stopped every 15 minutes to snap shots of the scenery. Jerry exercised nothing but patience. For those who have traveled with me, you’re familiar with my… “one more, one more”.
Along the way and during the first leg of the ride, we passed many farms. They grow everything there. Pommelos, eggplant, sesame, peanuts, sweet potato, lotus, taro, oranges, beans, bean curd, a variety of greens, melons, and of course, rice. I’m sure they grow even more; I just didn’t see it. We passed a duck farm as well.
The landscapes, to say the least, were simply breathtaking.
If you do opt for the bicycle ride, be prepared for a butt workout. The rural routes are filled with potholes and can get pretty bumpy. After a full day of biking, your derriere becomes quite sore. Also, I recommend wearing sport sandals, ideal for ploughing through the muddy puddles that pepper the paths on rainy days.
It’s incredible how quickly it becomes rural. In just 20 minutes, you’re in the middle of farmland, surrounded by villagers nurturing their crops. We met many minority residents who were happy to see us, exchanging smiles as we rode by.
Two and a half hours later, we reached the base of the noted Moon Hill – the destination of the day. Tourists and locals come from all over to witness the opening in the rock formation that resembles a moon, atop the hill. A path leads to the peak that offers views of the surroundings below.
It was time for a much needed break, so we rested at the Moon Hill Café and had a bite to eat. I don’t know how Jerry makes this journey multiple times a week.
Lunch passed. I wouldn’t say it was insanely delicious, but it wasn’t bad either. Pretty good. Just a bit on the oily side. We ordered a sizzling plate of chicken with onions and black beans, a serving of greens, and rice, complemented with beers, soda and water. I almost fell into a food coma, but the refueling was much needed. It wasn’t exactly economical, but that’s what you get for visiting a tourist trap.
After lunch, we set off on our hike up Moon Hill. I didn’t know what exactly to expect or how long it would take. Jerry suggested 45 minutes up, depending on our pace, and about a half hour back down. The route was wet and slippery, which probably explains why it took us just over an hour to climb to the top. When we did reach the top, all you could see were the mountains, high above the ride paddies. Patch after patch, the celebrated carb of China flooded the grounds. It was amazing.
Eventually, the scenery lost its magic and it was time to make our way back down.
After Moon Hill, we headed back to town – another hour bike ride. By the end of the day, I didn’t want to see a bike ever again. However, in China, that’s impossible. Despite my sore derriere, journeying through Yangshuo’s countryside was entirely worth it.