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We visit Yangshuo, and I ask Krista a question…

Yangshuo, China

June 14, 2015 – June 18, 2015

Full Yangshuo Photo Gallery Here.

After checking out the remote rice terraces of Dazhai, we hopped aboard a bus to our next destination, a place I was very excited to reach, the mountainous region around Yangshuo, China.  The popular destination city is surrounded by hundreds of near perfect conical peaks, towering over lush rice fields and the wandering rivers, for as far as you can see in any direction.   It turned out to be one of most beautiful landscapes we have encountered on our trip, and the perfect place to ask Krista a question.

Despite the remoteness of Dazhai, it turns out there is one van which conveniently leaves daily at 9am from the road below town, direct to the city of Yangshuo, several hours away. The road out of Dazhai winds its way down a steep river canyon, in places half the road has been cut away by the river, leaving jagged pavement hanging over nothing, but don’t worry, orange cones have replaced the fallen guard rails. Needless to say, the steep winding route is not for the faint of heart, or anyone prone to car sickness.

You will know you are approaching Yangshuo as you begin to see hundreds of knobby karst peaks sprouting up in the distance. There is just no other place on earth quite like Yangshuo. The surrounding land is almost completely flat and broken, seemingly at random, by tall conical jungle covered peaks, with tiny traditional villages dotting the wandering riverbanks below. The views have inspired artists for centuries, and if you have ever seen any Chinese art with narrow cloud covered peaks, chances are it was inspired by the hills around Yangshuo.

Yangshuo

The city of Yangshuo is a modern city in the vast mountainous region, and it is set right in amongst the tall peaks spreading and weaving out around them. Besides the beautiful scenery, the city is well known for foreign language schools, cooking classes, hiking, bicycling and has a rather large nightly party scene beneath the lit up mountains.

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The city of Yangshuo wanders throughout the valleys under the peaks.
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The view from our hostel room.
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Sunset in Yangshuo
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The surrounding countryside is great for exploring on a bike.

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If you are looking for great view which is easy to reach, in the middle of town atop the tallest of the peaks sits a TV tower, and a viewpoint which seems to be known only to locals. Just ask at your hotel or hostel or walk to the center of town and ask around for the way to the TV Tower. There is a relatively steep 30 minute hike, but at the top is a view which is well worth it. Just knock on the gate which reads “no visitors” and bribe the lady who babysits the tower with a few Yuan and she will let you in. Go at sunrise or sunset for the best views, we went at sunset and the place was actually fairly crowded.

 

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The view of Yangshuo from the top of the TV tower peak, the tallest around.

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Sunset from the top.

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Moon Hill

About 20 minutes out of town you can find Moon Hill, one of the karst peaks which has been eroded by water, and partially collapsed creating a towering land bridge, or half moon. The hike is short and not too steep until the very end. Ignore the people trying to sell fake tickets out front and go straight to the ticket booth.

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Moon Hill
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More interesting English translations.

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Cooking Class

We continued our love of cooking classes here, with our final cooking class of the trip, and it turned out to be the best! We signed up for a class with the Yangshuo cooking school, which is just 10 minutes out of town, their van will pick you up from your hotel. The school is set up with a great view down the river valley between the peaks, so you can enjoy an amazing view while you are learning the secrets to Chinese cooking, which incidentally is fresh ingredients, lots of oil and high gas heat.

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Our cooking class started with a tour of a local market.
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We picked out all the fresh ingredients we would need for the class.
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We only bought vegetables.
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The Yangshuo cooking school is actually just out of town in the countryside,  this is the view from the classroom.

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Our menu – Steamed chicken, stir fried veggies and pork, eggplant and garlic bokchoy.
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As always, the best part of taking a cooking class is eating the food afterwards.  In our class we met a French girl who had been living in Hong Kong for many years and conveniently gave us several recommendations for our upcoming destination.

Climbing a mountain in Xingping

 The nearby town of Xingping, about an hour away by bus, is set along a particularly picturesque bend in the Li river, and offers some of the best views of the surrounding mountains. The views from Xingping of the mountains rising up from the river’s edge are even pictured on the back of China’s 20 yuan bill. The small town still has a traditional pedestrian only market street, though it is filled with fancy coffee shops and restaurants.

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The village of Xingping is popular with tourists taking scenic river boat tours.

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It had rained a bit before we arrived…so much that the popular tourist activity of bamboo rafting was suspended.
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A “traditional” narrow city street, lined with fancy coffee shops and restaurants.
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This was the exact view which was used on the back of China’s 20 Yuan bill.
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We hiked along the road which leads out of town to check out the river scenery.

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We were caught in a sudden downpour while out on our walk, luckily we found some shelter to wait out the rain.
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The storm didn’t last long, after about 20 minutes the sun was out and we were able to walk back to town.

 

The best reason to visit the sleepy town however is actually sitting high above it, the viewpoint atop the peak just a few blocks from downtown. The trail, which is accessed by walking through a small white arch next the town’s main boat launch, leads to the top of the one of the tallest peaks around. The viewpoint offers beautiful uninterrupted views in every direction, and was one of the best views on our entire trip. Though the peak is unmistakable, rising high above the village, the trail leading to the top appears to be largely unknown, we had the viewpoint all to ourselves.  And it was from this viewpoint that I decided to ask Krista to marry me! I knew before the trip that I wanted to propose on the trip and I surprised her by pulling out a ring that I had had hidden away for the last 15 months…

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The view from the top of the peak.
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The view was one of the best on our entire trip around the world.

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The knobby hills which stretch out as far as you can see in every direction made for great panorama shots.

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…and she said yes!

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