cecilia
reaching for the siliver line.

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At Yangshuo

Popularity 14Viewed 8703 times 2016-1-10 20:06 |Personal category:travel|System category:Life| Yangshuo

Yangshuo, near Guilin, is famous for its natural scenery and ancient cities. In the New Year’s holiday, I went there after my friend’s wedding. For me, Yangshuo is beautiful and full of art atmosphere. I used to expect there a lot for it is said there are many arty persons and places, and plenty of chances to run into love affairs. It sounds attractive and mysterious anyway. We bought a package travel ticket, 280 Yuan per person, including the bus fare to the port where we can go to Yangshuo by bamboo boats, and the bamboo boat tickets, and another bus fare.

First, we went to the port and met two other people going to Yangshuo, so we (two people) agreed to take the four-person boat together. The boat would only go when you find your three partners to go together. It was the first time I saw mountains and rivers together. As the boat moved on the river, Lijiang, I saw green mountains in different shapes, dark-green river with ducks swimming. Orange trees with fresh and yellow oranges on the trees are planted on some islands. People can also go to Yangshuo by bus, but I feel there is more fun by taking a boat. I even felt that I was moving into an isolated world from earth where I live. We also went to the place which you can see from your 20 YUAN note. There are many people taking pictures while holding a 20 Yuan.

However, I had to admit that Yangshuo, the place I longed for a long time is a disappointment. It actually is a small town, but I felt most of people were tourists. Local people would never rent a bike and wander around; they seemed have been “marginalized” into store-keepers, bike-renters, or motorbike drivers. The whole town obviously is dependent upon local tourism. Everything there seemed to be aimed at the needs of tourists. I feel the city itself is built for show, and has dead in core. We went to the famous West Street at night, one of the attractions in Yanghshuo. However, at the entrance of the street, we had an unpleasant experience. A guy who dressed as “Monkey King” seemed welcome, waved to us and asked us to take pictures with him. Then I took some pictures for him and my friend, and he looked very happy. But when we left, a man required us to pay 10 Yuan to him for taking pictures with “Monkey King” is not free. I argued with the man because I felt it was unfair for us, because he did not even tell people before. 10 Yuan was the problem, but dishonesty was the thing that I was angry with. Eventually, he left and said why I stood on the side of a foreigner. The tourism supports the town, but also commercialized the local people and made them try to make more money instead to make their hometown more hospitable. Anyway, we continued and saw handicraft work, speciality, and surely many bars, where many people expect to have love affairs. Usually, there were two or three girls with strong make-up stood outside the bar, which could be taken as an implication that there were things that people were expecting. Nevertheless, the noisy music and dullish lights seemed dry to us. The signs to attract tourists are so obvious that I cannot feel the life and art atmosphere.

At day, we rented two mountains bikes (FYI, 20 YUAN per person) and rode to the well-known Ten Mile Gallery. The natural scenery is so beautiful that it is like a long road with beautiful sceneries on the both sides of the road. It was fun.

Yangshuo is famous for its Beer fish and ginger candy, which I tried and think it is worth having a try, although the beer fish might be a little bit expensive. For example, we ordered a beer fish, a vegetable, and dish made of sweet potato, which cost us almost 240. Yet, maybe it would be the last time we went there.

Finally, I wrote some postcards to my friends in Shanghai and hope they will arrive on time.

All in all, although Yanghshuo used to be the place in my dream, but people there have paid too much attention to making money by developing tourism, and their ordinary life is stripped away gradually. I remember I saw two or three kids with uniforms on the road, which reminds me that it was still a town for people to live, instead of to show and to be visited.

mountains and rivers

the orginal scenenry on 20 Yuan note

beer fish

sweet potato(very good)

inside the butterfly valley(a scenery spot on the twn mile gallery)

cats i met in the hostle

Minority people's dance

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Friends who just made a statement (4 Person)

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Comment Comment (36 comments)

Reply Report HenLaoLaoShi 2016-1-10 23:34
I think this is not an uncommon phenomenon. Economics of a community, or even a whole region or country, change. From rural, to manufacturing, to service and tourism.  The people and culture change with  the economy.
Reply Report laoren1234 2016-1-11 12:13
When a tourist destination becomes too well known it inevitably gets commercialized. The trick is to find a place you like before it becomes famous. And that is no easy task.  
Reply Report voice_cd 2016-1-11 13:06
Thank you for sharing your stories here, we have highlighted your blog.
Reply Report cecilia颖 2016-1-11 19:28
HenLaoLaoShi: I think this is not an uncommon phenomenon. Economics of a community, or even a whole region or country, change. From rural, to manufacturing, to serv ...
yes, that is true. i also believe that this will only be a stage, i.e. this phenomenon is just for now. when i talked with people in Shanghai, they show more disattachement to tourists, for their life has been "changed" or influenced too much by the tourism... so people in Yangshuo might also become those in Shanghai.
Reply Report cecilia颖 2016-1-11 19:36
laoren1234: When a tourist destination becomes too well known it inevitably gets commercialized. The trick is to find a place you like before it becomes famous. A ...
yeah... last time, there were a few Russians coming to Shanghai. they were my friend's friends. somehow, they found a beach near a place(sorry i forgot the name), which has been developed so far. people there were so kind that they even provided them free accomadation.they cannot speak English nor Russian, so their communication is totally upon gestures or my friend by phone. my friend's Russian friends were really impressed at that time.
Reply Report cecilia颖 2016-1-11 19:36
voice_cd: Thank you for sharing your stories here, we have highlighted your blog.
thank you CD as always
Reply Report futsanglung 2016-1-12 06:06
Yangshou was a wonderful place 15 years ago but has been ruined by commercialism, West Street used to be full of interesting shops, now it is all tourist tat and overpriced souveniers, there used to be a wealth of cheap hotels and intersting cafes but now they have gone upmarket and much more expensive, property prices have risen so much the real locals can not afford them.

The scenery is still beautiful but the relaxed atmosphere has gone.
Reply Report johnT 2016-1-12 11:43
I am Johny and i come from Guilin.I just read those comments above and i felt a bit sad and sorry!people use to be proud of having such wonderful place, the scenery is incredible and the local people is amazingly friendly.But all of these things ruined by exaggerated economic growth needs!people lost their honesty and friendness in order to get more money,i feel sorry but there is nothing we can do.so i am here to apologize to those who has such not so good experience.
Reply Report rain227 2016-1-12 13:24
amamzing
Reply Report samlam 2016-1-13 12:43
The service in this 5 A scenic spot does not go together with its beautiful sights. The local government should be blamed for it.
Reply Report cecilia颖 2016-1-13 17:12
futsanglung: Yangshou was a wonderful place 15 years ago but has been ruined by commercialism, West Street used to be full of interesting shops, now it is all tour ...
yeah, i am from north china and was amazed by the natural scenery there.when did you go there?
Reply Report cecilia颖 2016-1-13 17:17
johnT: I am Johny and i come from Guilin.I just read those comments above and i felt a bit sad and sorry!people use to be proud of having such wonderful plac ...
Don't worry. It's okay... it is no one's facult, and it won't last forever. the place is still very beautiful and i can see they are doing many restoration there. they cannot see what is wrong now because they need to live. however, i do believe one day everything will be ddifferent because the tourism will make them richer and they have more time to make there more beautiful.
Reply Report cecilia颖 2016-1-13 17:17
rain227: amamzing
the scenery surely is
Reply Report cecilia颖 2016-1-13 17:19
samlam: The service in this 5 A scenic spot does not go together with its beautiful sights. The local government should be blamed for it.
i have a feeling that it is so far away from the government so the effect of government is not powerful enough...
Reply Report foreignchinese 2016-1-14 07:06
I went there in the year 2010. It is a tourist area alright. Batches of tourist in and out of the area. I wouldn't classify it as a 5 star attraction as the place is quite run down. We took the river ride as everyone does. The water level was very low and we can even walk on the water. We took some pictures for remembrances. The tourist agencies need to be regulated as they set different prices for different tourists. We actually stayed in Gulin for over a week. Not that we find the place amazing but because we just want to relax. It is just like any other town in China.
Reply Report seneca 2016-1-14 11:00
Yangshuo used to be a Westerner's idea of an idyllic, laid-back town in China. It was the most hospitable place between Sanya and Mohe. It was tiny, clean and it had atmosphere. The cobbled West Street was China's first pedestrian-only walkway. West Street was bordered on both sides by Western-style cafes and inns. Foreign visitors felt immediately at home away from their own home country. The locals extended the most gracious hospitality to anyone. Some icons remembered to this day include the Meiyou Café so named because every foreigner knew two Chinese words: "Mei You", which was the mantra of shopkeepers in those days when coffee was an exotic rarity and pizza totally unknown. Others include the Minny Mao's, the Café de Paris, William's Café, Lisa's Guesthouse, Sihai Hotel - all along West Street. Foreigners loved staying, and eventually mountaineering clubs and kungfu schools set up shop and catered to a growing international clientele.
What Yangshuo has been experiencing since around the turn of the century is nothing short of invasion. It no longer is charming. It no longer is clean. It no longer is friendly. Beer Fish is a fake thought up specifically for the hordes of tourists shipped down from Guilin and bussed back there. The dozens of cafes and inns and souvenir shops of yore have given way to horrible tacky shops selling crud and fake brand-named goods. There is now a Pizza Hut, a KFC and a Watson's.  All shops are run by waidiren. The locals have been edged out by the lucre brought in from Hunan, Guangdong, even Anhui. Local people cannot compete when a plot is up for lease. Crime and prostitution have also reared their ugly face.
I miss the old Yangshuo, and I particularly miss the Yangshuo people who manned the old Yangshuo!
Reply Report KennyChen 2016-1-14 14:58
我想说两句中文:很多人被作者的前铺垫带进去了,却忽略了最后那句。我们走进山水的画廊,却被这些世俗的东西过多吸引,喧闹的酒吧、蜡像馆前的美猴王、甚至是满大街的啤酒鱼、各种工艺品.....实际上我统统都有点防备(我完全是不想在景区内被宰)。但是我们在兴平爬完那座小山后下来,天色已经有点晚了,甚渴。看到一对老夫妇在岸边卖荸荠、雪莲(边削边卖),穿着朴实,同行的朋友随即提出,我们买一袋荸荠吧,看老人家削的也辛苦。5块钱一袋。我掂量着这份量,说这值,5块很便宜啊。cao,别说5块,十块你都值得出,朋友总是这样粗暴明了。我的本意也如此。生活不难,其实也不易。在工业不可以发达的桂林,挣点我们游客的钱是应该的,看你怎么花咯。(英文不熟,懒得翻译,将就看)
Reply Report futsanglung 2016-1-14 16:24
cecilia颖: yeah, i am from north china and was amazed by the natural scenery there.when did you go there?
First time was 1997, last time was 2011. I will not be hurrying back.

China has lots of wonderful scenery but the "hidden" places are few and far between these days. One of my favourite places is Leshan
Reply Report Newtown 2016-1-15 14:26
foreignchinese: I went there in the year 2010. It is a tourist area alright. Batches of tourist in and out of the area. I wouldn't classify it as a 5 star attraction  ...
Not "everyone" takes the river run if you are refering to the long boat ride from Guilin to Yangshuo. I've been to YS three times in about the past fifteen years and each time catch the bus from Guilin to YS which takes about one hour. When you get to YS you can organise rides on bamboo craft or two-seater motorised boats which will take you almost anywhere, meaning you can get away from from the busy river traffic and explore places well off the beaten track where there were very few tourists and you could easily see how the locals live.

It sounds as though you also didn't explore much of the surrounding countryside which is far more interesting and attractive than the town. You can get on a bicycle or motorbike and journey through the karst mountains, the beautiful streams, river bridges, and underground caves ( much smaller than those in Guilin ). Rather than staying in expensive city hotels in Guilin you can find quite good accommodation in YS for around 100 rmb a night ( 4 years ago ) and a wide range of restaurants with excellent food. I paid around 140 rmb for the beer fish last time but had other Chinese cuisine which was its equal if not better. Like @seneca I sadly miss breakfasting at the Meiyou Cafe, an apparently the McDonalds that use to be there has now gone ( no big loss ).

I think that any tourist misses out a lot if the only follow the path of the tourist group they are in and this miss out on discovering many of the joys that Yangshuo has to offer if you don't make the effort to find them.
Reply Report futsanglung 2016-1-17 09:57
Newtown: Not "everyone" takes the river run if you are refering to the long boat ride from Guilin to Yangshuo. I've been to YS three times in about t ...
Strange how everyone thinks beer fish is a traditional local dish, it is not and was invented for tourists not so long ago

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