Sunday, August 12, 2007

China: Cruise along the Lijiang River in Guilin

A trip to Guilin would not be complete without a cruise along the Lijiang River. We had a fantastic cruise along the Lijiang River today! The picturesque karst landscape was simply spectacular despite it being a cloudy day.

Our group left downtown Guilin at about 8:15 a.m. and was at the wharf 45 minutes later. I was surprised to see so many cruise ferries waiting. There were just so many tourists, both local and foreign! Cruise ferries in fact left almost every 5 to 10 minutes. The trip down the river would take about five hours. Buffet lunch is prepared and served on board.

It was drizzling when we left the wharf. But that did not hamper us from proceeding to the roof deck of the ferry to enjoy the great scenery. Indeed, this is a highly-recommended tour which one must include in a China itinerary. In fact, the Lijiang River Scenic Zone is in the China tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage inscription. I'm sure the scenes from the Lijiang River below which I uploaded in YouTube will definitely whet your travel appetite.

Despite the fact that I wanted to sit down and relax in the air-conditioned area below, I just could not leave the roof deck since every curve and turn along the river offered new surprises and better views. Observing the daily life along the river was a very enriching experience. And it was amusing seeing how vendors sold their wares on a higher level because they would try to catch the ferries, rowing their rafts towards us and hooking them to the cruise boats as soon as they made contact so that they could sell their wares to the passengers.

At the end of the cruise is Yangshuo County which has an old town that is well-preserved but has been transformed into a tourist trap. Souvenir shops and inns now occupy this old settlement along the Li River. There were so many people, I found it difficult to move around. But at least all the old buildings were preserved and have become economically viable. I have a lot of photos in Multiply.

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