Our first full day in Yangshuo was a bit of a health kick, we were able to hire a bike from the hostel owner and he also took us out for a wee run which was really handy as we had no ideas where we were supposed to be going or how to get there.
The French couple that I mentioned at the end of the last blog had arrived and they were also happy to go out and do a spot of cycling.
From the hostel, we followed a nice and bumpy stone and gravel track which was great fun to cycle along. I’m used to cycling along the canal track or the roads so this was like some form of off roading – it wasn’t real off roading but it was good fun.
The next thing is that there was no driving rain and no gale force wind to battle against so this was very different cycling to what I was used to back home.
After a short while, there’s a river with a dam on it. The small dam was big enough to be used as a crossing and several scooters were driving over it and our guide for the day was cycling over so we joined in.
There was some water spraying up so, for a few seconds, it reminded me of back home.
Further along the trail, I had noticed little doors which were built into the side of the mountains. They were almost always close to ground level and we had saw them throughout China.
They were tombs for villagers who had died. Apparently, it’s a Chinese belief to have the front of the tomb facing a river and to have a mountain behind it so as well as getting to stretch my legs, I was learning about Chinese funerals.
Part of our trail took us through some villages which were a mix of old stone buildings with chickens wandering around the grounds to some other properties that were in the process of being built or rennovated.
The next thing of note was when it was suggested that we stopped for a short break. There was a small step at a rock which we thought nothing of. We should have though as it wasn’t just a rock, it was a cave entrance.
You could only get through the entrance on your hands and knees but when you did go through, you could stand up and there was a small ledge area with maybe a 10 foot drop to some water – it wasn’t immediately obvious how you would climb down or get back up from the water.
It also wasn’t obvious what would be lurking in the water so the 4 of us brave adventurers were no longer brave and stayed at the ledge for a few minutes. We had one torch between us to use and when moving it around, there were passage ways going as far into the cave as the eye could see.
There were also some stalagtites (the ones that come from the roof) beginning to form. The cave had an eerie silence to it and given how it was not obvious that there was a cave there at all, I got the feeling that I’d have been one of the few people ever to have entered the cave.
And the cave wasn’t even the main part of the bike run. That was just a point to stop for a quick break. After the cave, we climbed back on to the bikes and made our way towards the dragons bridge. I’ve tried to find some information on this bridge but was unable to get much. I believe the bridge to be approx 400 – 600 years old (because that’s what two different travel blogs said). It was unclear if it was still the original bridge or how much of it had been rebuilt but it was very old looking and a nice place to stop.
At either side of the bridge, you have people selling trips on the bamboo rafts but as we’d done that already, we decided not to bother going on another one.
The scenery towards the bridge is nice though and we enjoyed our wee bike run along to the bridge and back. There’s a lot of ‘karst’ mountains and with the river running alongside and the fields, it was unlike anything that we had saw in China.
It was the first time in almost two months that I’d been on a bike and after the bike run, the owner of the hostel tried to completely kill us off by suggesting that we walk up to the top of a mountain with a TV tower on it for the sunset views over the city.
The walk up the hill was pretty much a trek up narrow stone steps while it was still very warm but in the end, it was worth it. At the top, you can buy a bottle of very cold water so drinking it and pouring it over yourself along with the views from the top is the reward for the climb up.
Due to the time of day that we went up, it was starting to get dark so seeing the sun going down and the various neon lights getting brigter over the city made it a worth while walk.