Our next stop in China took us out into the countryside. Well, what would be a tiny hillside village in somewhere like Vietnam, in China (with its 1.3 billion population) was home to around 400,000 people! Although once we were there you would never know and it didn't take any impact from the amazing scenery.
To start our journey we took a coach from the city and then a bamboo boat along the meandering river that would normally take you all the way to Yangshuo. Had it not been for the boat people being in revolt against the government for pay reasons so some of the closest ports to the town were closed. Either way the boat trip was amazing. Gigantic rolling hills covered in tropical greenery covered all sides of the river and made the boats in front seem like ants. The size and scale of everything was like nothing we'd seen before. This was what makes Yangshuo famous and was a good start for what was to come.
We were staying in a hostel just out of town but it was well worth it. The hostel was more like a modern and fancy hotel, with an amazing garden area and pool that looked out onto the farming fields and rolling hills.
The central town of Yangshuo was relatively small, at night it was bustling with people and all sorts of food, drink and other shops selling everything you could want. The only annoying thing here, and in China generally, is that the bars are so expensive it's unaffordable really to sit and have a drink in many of them as a backpacker. Although the music is so bad in most, that wasn't too much of an issue!
Each night we ate street food from the stalls and street restaurants in town. Getting a few beers and walking around town taking in the scenery, this is what most backpackers seemed to do as well. We met a funny crowd in the hostel, group of American girls, some Europeans and an Australian and had a good night back at the hostel making the most of the chilled out garden area and my 'Jam' speaker!
During the days we had a lot in store, one day we hiked up to one of highest hills around the town which gave breathtaking views of both the more urban area on one side and the winding river on the other. We were the only ones to venture up and it was probably one of the hardest short hikes/ climbs we'd done!
Although China has a massive population and a big tourist industry, as the locals seem to hate strenuous activity, most hikes and walks you do are pretty empty of the hordes of people!
We also spent some time chilling out in the locals parks, really cool seeing the locals just getting up to their business. Old boys playing cards on the street, others singing with small crowds listening in and people eating and drinking everywhere. China definitely had a nice feel about it when you just mooch around town.
Strangely in China practically all scooters are electric and most of them smaller than normal petrol mo-peds. We hired our first one in Yangshuo and they're strange to drive. Silent, smooth and much lighter than normal scooters. Quite nice to potter around town and the quiet countryside, you only get about half a days worth of driving per charge though. We used the bike to get to the edge of town, hike up a massive hill with a crazy open cave at the top, giving more amazing views over the area. We also found a great road that took us all the way through the beautiful countryside in between the big hills which are everywhere.
We spent about 4 days in total in Yangshuo which isn't long compared to normal people's holidays in one destination, but it is a decent amount of time when travelling and looking to see as much as possible.
After a great few days in the city it was another really good place to see. China was proving to be a great addition to the trip!