Monday, March 2, 2009

Photo Series Li River cruise

Wed morning we took a cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo that we booked through Guilin Backstreet hostel. We had the option of taking a Western group cruise, a Chinese group cruise and a private cruise, and being incredibly cheap we obviously chose the Chinese group cruise. Thank god we had Gloria there, because the Chinese tour would not have been possible without a Mandarin speaker. This is because although it seemed like an organized process, much was still up for discussion/negotiation.

The biggest conflict was getting a good seat on the boat. They sat us way in the middle of the boat, not even viewing distance from the window, then tried to sell us much better seats on the top floor for 800RMB each (we paid 245RMB each for the entire 4-hour cruise). In the end we paid 20 RMB each, and they only offered us that when they realized no one else on the boat was going to pay to go upstairs and we were their only option to make a little extra cash.

The cruise was definitely worth it, the river is really amazing - long, very thin so you can see both shores very clearly, windy, bordered with these funny fuzzy mountains, filled with bamboo rafts - but I think the private boat would have been more pleasant. There are bamboo raft cruises from Yangshuo that looked much more enjoyable and authentic. And we could have done without the guide's interpretation of the natural scenery (a mountain that looked like 9 horses, a teeny rock on a mountain looked like a woman yearning for a man, etc.)

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