Day 7: Li River to Xing Ping

Another car trip, this time to the Crown Caves on the Li River. We started with a little train ride to the cave entrance, a boat ride along the river in the cave, and elevator ride up to the top of the cave to enjoy the scenery, and in total, 2 hrs spent underground with an amazingly extensive and commercialised cave system. Fluorescent tubes, coloured lights, funny names, guides using megaphones and no rules about not touching the stalagmites or climbing off the path to cuddle one to make nice picture. Another turtle to give money to and pat, another cheesy photo op. to commemorate your visit . Not like this for national parks and wildlife at home.

We then got on a bamboo raft for the 2.5 hr journey downstream to XingPing, just out of Yangshuo. The hills, karst peaks, are breathtaking, and the river ride was a great way to experience it. Our bamboo raft driver was Steve’s uncle, so we stopped at the village of Loao Cheng Tou for lunch and to visit his Aunt and young cousins. Toilets aside, the cleanliness everywhere has struck us. Everything is clean swept, and this very very basic village was spotless. We saw aunties house, very few belongings, a few pieces of utilitarian furniture, but so house proud. Not forgetting our food safari – our cheapest meal for 4 so far. Dried Little River Fish, Pork and Sour Beans, 2 plates of greens, Duck Egg rice, 4 long necks beer, a couple of soft drinks and bottles of water, all for 130 Yuan – $20.

Markets, old village in Xing Ping
XingPing is Steve’s home town. A mix of the old town and new marketplaces. In the late afternoon he took us to his mountain – a hill he owns just out of town, for us to make nature photograph from the top. This impressive hillside affords a wonderful view of XingPing and the Karst peaks.

It keeps on being 35 degrees, humid and very very still, but this afternoon was the clearest so far. Makes us very excited about the hot air balloon ride planned for tomorrow.