We had three hours to spare after reaching Yangshuo. Many tourists headed towards their hotels. There were people everywhere. It kind of spoiled the beauty of the location. The weather was pleasant and yet we were too tired to appreciate it. I couldn’t bear to walk the town after 4 hours on the cruise. We had an option to take the countryside and rafting tour. It came at an additional price – but many of our co-passengers (like us) on the cruise fell for it.
We rounded up at 2:30 pm and followed our guide towards a bus. The bus took us to the rafts. The rafts looked rickety, but our oarsman was pretty confident we didn’t need our life-vests. I tried explaining that we didn’t know how to swim. It didn’t matter.
First-up was the cormorant catching fish ritual. I was already anxious on the raft and seeing a bird with its throat tied – trying to swallow a fish – wasn’t exactly appealing. The other tourists didn’t seem to mind. I wasn’t sure what we were trying to achieve here. Fortunately, the ritual doesn’t last for more than 5 minutes.
Next, we passed by the fields. Somewhere along the way you can eat fried fish with a glass of beer. We graciously declined. It’s also a common spot for bridal photography. We saw a young bride getting her hair and make up in place along the banks of the river. The water tends to be quite cold and an occasional splash can give you a chill.
Then the part were there is a slight fall (step) in the route. You have to stay prepared with your best pose as a camera guy will take your shot. It’s optional to get your snap clicked. But, before we knew it – we ended buying it.
The last part leads you under a bridge. This scene is truly fascinating with rafts floating by and flowers in full bloom. By now, I had a better control on my nerves. On our way back, we repeated the whole route again. At the step, we climbed up as our oarsman lifted the raft.
I was happy we were done with our ‘touristy’ bit of the trip. And that’s when we were lead towards the water buffalo. It was called ‘Feeding the buffalo’. It was funny and scary. I tried it reluctantly. Kids seem to have fun and a baby started bawling the minute his mother stopped him from feeding the animal any more.
Our 8 day trip was finally over and we were horribly exhausted. The drive back to Guilin would be a two hour long journey. The next day we were to head back to Shanghai. We ended spending the whole day in the airport and I fell sick. But, in hindsight, all the walking and travelling over the period of 8 days was worth it.