On Saturday morning we had our breakfast of Guilin noodles and then headed to the bus station. We got on a local bus and after about 25 minutes arrived at the area where we started our bamboo raft ride down the Yulong River. There was no sun and the air was a bit chilly but it wasn’t raining! We were given rain ponchos, not because they expected it to rain but to keep our back ends dry. I started to wonder just what we were in for at this point but figured that as long as they didn’t pass out floatation devices I was OK. Flotation devices=chance of getting dumped into the cold river. 😦
What an experience. The karst mountains are different from anything I’ve ever seen. We were told by just about everyone that they are unique to China. So in all of China this is the one place you can find these mountains and we were floating along the river taking it all in. I had goosebumps and not just because I was cold. There were 8 places where the river changed a tad in elevation. They built stone ramps to aid in making it easy to pass from one height to another. They were kind of like the locks in a canal only you couldn’t see them until you went over them. It was not much of a change but enough that we felt like we were on the kiddie flume ride at Hershey Park. That’s where the ponchos came in handy. As we went over these little ramps and the front end hit the water it of course sprayed water back. Our “gondolier” warned us every time we came to one by saying, “Hello.” I didn’t know this but evidently hello means beware your camera and your butt. 😉
A couple of the young men (so this means that Anders did not participate) decided that they would try their hand at steering. Uh-huh. That didn’t seem to work too well. Anders made a wise choice to enjoy the comfort of his chair. I would have fallen into the river just trying to get to the back of the raft. There was no space beside the chairs to walk so you had to shimmy your way past the seats. Then once you were back there you had to have excellent balance. When going over the “locks” the gondoliers had to stand at the very back of the raft until it started descending and then move quickly to the middle to avoid being launched off. They were quite skilled. I’m sure they made it look a heck of a lot easier than it was.
Along the way there were people on rafts selling BBQ fish. We pulled up to one but thankfully left without buying any. Evidently the woman was asking $13 for a small BBQ carp. Even I knew that was too much. The amazing thing is that after we started moving away she was calling the group back. Yeah, like it’s so easy to steer the rafts that they can just swing us around to start the negotiating process! She wasn’t a very good saleswoman.
The ride lasted for about 1 1/2 hours. It was calm, peaceful, serene, surreal, and an absolute delight. Anders and I kept saying that we could have been on The Amazing Race. I will NEVER forget the bamboo raft ride on the Yulong River.
6PM – 59°