I though we had been told that the boat would pick us up opposite the hotel but actually we were taken some 20 plus minutes out of town to a large, we'll call it a port for want of a better name. Needless to say you can buy all sorts of stuff there, including according to Juli, naff electronics and dodgy memory cards. These latter she suggests you avoid as they are likely to have been relabelled.
She also warned us that prices on the boat for extras such as books, food and drinks should be avoided, advice we took. Our advice would also be to be prepared to minimise lunch, it's not one of the great experiences and I suspect much use is made of river water in the catering, despite Juli's assurances it didn't look so clean to me. The loos are also an unrewarding experience and one could lead to another I'd bet.
The scale of boating on the River Li (the brochure calls it Lijiang) rather exceeded our expectations. We saw at least 20 loading up and clearly there are a lot more. Once underway the boats are also engaged in something of a race to Yangshuo. The throttle is pressed home to the firewall and left there for the duration. Obstacles are uniformly dealt with by injudicious use of the horn (as on the roads) and throttling back is regarded as strictly for sissies.
Even less for sissies are the river touts who row bamboo 'rafts' out and grab the boat to bring themselves up to speed so they can sell their wares for a few yuan to the tourists. I can imagine a slight misjudgement would cause the raft to at least flip if nothing worse.
Missing no opportunity Juli is onto us for the 'Impressions Liu Sanjie show' apparently by the famous movie maker 'Zhang Yimou' (!) and complete with 600 performers. We wern't doing anything els tonight, it's only an hour so why not? Let's hope it has no acrobatics.
The river scenery is fantastic with huge (and I mean big) rocks rising hundreds of feet vertically from the plain) and last nights rain had (apparently) cleared the visibility quite a lot. Coming from New Zealand you'd have to confess to a certain disappointment with the air quality but perhaps the haze adds to the experience?
Emerging from the best of the scenery the rain started and the latter stages of the journey had to be passed inside. Luckily it dried out by Yangshuo and disembarking we fought our way through the plague of postcard vendors, cormorant photo opportunities and various hawkers before we were able to walk up West Street to the four star Paradise Hotel.
Juli warned us about West Street, we can see for ourselves it's full on tat shops, but she says we can bargain very hard but we won't get any refunds. She also said to especially avoid electronics, I saw an Apple iPhone and very much doubt Steve Jobs knows anything about this one! The Lonely Planet also has words to say on the subject and tourists getting fleeced. If anything Yangshuo is even more of a tourist Mecca than Guilin, oh how we yearn for Xian.
At the moment it's early afternoon and it's raining pretty hard outside. Mary has finished her book and in desperation is reading the Lonely Planet, I gather this is a less than riveting experience. I'm about to run out of things to blog so I'll have to join her and I think we may have to go look at the town, rain notwithstanding.
A bit later......
We got wet. The hotel brollies are not really a match for the local weather. We did have our photo taken again, this time we did not reciprocate as it was still raining. A lot.
I read my book and Mary read the Lonely Planet, when I looked up she was asleep
Pre dinner drinks found at a French (can you believe) restaurant. French wine rated at upwards of $NZ500 per bottle but they had modestly priced Chilean Sav Blanc Chateau Paint Stipper by the glass. Dinner was pretty good at the Meiyou cafe and we were back to meet Juli at 7:20 to go to the show.
The 'Impressions Liu Sanjie show' is another Vegas style spectacular, this time on the river. Huge cast and even huger audience, luckily the rain had a pause for the duration and only started on our return. Only an hour long so not particularly good value. You need the seats nearer the front, not right at the front, say 10-15 rows back, the expensive ones way the back have a worse view, go figure.
All in all the show was very good and I'm glad we saw it.
Anyway the rain has returned, West Street is alive and humming and we have hit the showers and bed. Early call tomorrow.