I rarely sleep late. I know, it’s a sickness!

I’m always up early! But today, I slept until 9 a.m., late for me! Oh god, three hours of sleep after a long rough night fighting the chaos at the Chengdu airport on the tail of a typhoon. I felt like a zombie all day walking around Yangshuo!

The day's constant rain drains off the clay tiled roof of the hotel.

The hotel was lovely. After such a horrible night, it was luxury to be in such a comfortable place on West Street, the main shopping and walking street in Yangshuo. After weeks of moving around the rugged landscapes of western Sichuan, it was good to be grounded. I will be using Yangshuo as my base for the next several days since there is so much to see and do around here.

Yangshuo is a pretty town, a town where all the shops and bars have one thing in common – they try to outdo each other for the chance to poke holes in your travel budget! Unlike the past few weeks, this is a pretty crowded place with a lot of tourists from around the world. Its fun to wander down the streets and listen to all the different accents and try to figure out where the people are from.

The lower floor of the small hotel. Red welcome mats make this cozy place feel right at home and being in a courtyard keeps things quiet from busy West Street.

A local woman carries fresh, handmade headbands of flowers along the wet streets in search for tourists.

Yangshuo comes to life with all its colour when the lights come on.

The rain fell steadily all day. From a light, glasses-fogging drizzle to a torrential downpour, I felt glad that there was nothing pressing I had to do, especially on three hours of sleep! Getting into bed at 6 a.m. after the night’s airport ordeal was slipping into a distant and unwanted memory with every storefront I passed, clutching my trusty umbrella I’d bought when I first arrived in Chengdu. I’m sure it is the worlds most traveled non-collapsing umbrella by now! A great umbrella – except for a tiny leak that aims a steady stream of rain water down my shirt sleeve when held at a certain angle!

Enjoying a strong cup of hot coffee while watching the wet street below the Mei You cafe.

Coffee on the balcony of the Mei You Cafe (this translates to the Nothing Cafe) on the main tourist street, appropriately called, West Street!.

I didn’t stroll very far today. I walked like a zombie to Mei You restaurant because it had a balcony that overlooked the street and had a “western” breakfast. The balcony gave me a bit of an overview of my surroundings. The western menu?… no comment! However, the coffee in a real cup and saucer, was very good and a welcome change.

The Li River with karst mountains in the background.

The Li River on the back of the Chinese 20RMB note.

At the end of the West Street, one gets their first view of the Lijiang (Li) River. I will spend a few bucks exploring and traveling the river over the few days. At this part of the Li, there is a lovely waterfall contributing to the Li’s flow. As I photographed it at a low angle and near the river itself, I began to understand the beauty of this river. The souring karst mountains surrounded me like so many Chinese pen & ink paintings and on the back of the 20 RMB note. Despite the mist and driving rain, the beauty and tranquility along the river was magical.

One of many stone walkways out into the Li River. Boats pull up to the walkways to take on or see off passengers.

Along the shoreline, small stone walkways jutted out and formed handy places for the many lawnmower engine powered skiffs to land and pick up a few passengers. In the past, these small craft were made from wide bamboo trunks of varying lengths, lashed together, forming a platform on which a deck, roof, chairs and any other form of personal comfort could be built.

A man seeling wind instruments made from gourds walks the street looking to sell to tourists.

Today however, the bamboo is loosing ground to the more durable and long wearing, but unsightly, white plastic drainage piping! I think they must have been painted green at some point early in their new-found purpose, but the paint had just worn away and held no illusion as to their original purpose!
Despite the new style of raft building, they sure looked fun and I couldn’t wait to get out on one!

Tucked in behind the last row of streets, the mountains envelop this small town. At night, the mountains are lit with spotlights and give the town a theatrical setting.



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