The Li River, Guilin to Yangzhou


China has a myriad of sightseeing treasures including the Great Wall, the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River, and the terra cotta warriors of Xian (I have a 6’ 5”, 397 pound replica called “The General” in my front hallway), but my favorite part of China is the 50 mile stretch along the Li River from Guilin to Yangzhou.   This is rural China with water buffalo and small bamboo rafts lazily watching as tour boats ply their way through the relatively clean river.  The real highlight of the three hour cruise is the hundreds of limestone mountains that sprout up like 300 foot stalagmites along the river in never ending variety.  Around every bend of the river more and more uniquely shaped limestone peaks, covered with green vegetation, provide fascinating visual images.  It’s as if a thousand giants laid down on their backs after filming a Viagra commercial.

While Guilin is a major tourist Mecca, the much smaller town of Yangzhou is still a quaint, almost rural Chinese town. You can do a motorized rickshaw tour of the countryside here and return to suck in the unique limestone mountain landscape very inexpensively from local cafes.  Yangzhou is definitely a place to which I will return again and again, both for the uniqueness of its natural beauty and the friendliness and charm of the local Chinese people.