The streets of China.
Heading to the Mountain Region.
On the boat on the Li River.
Golden Getaway: Catriona takes us on the second part of her bike ride through the beautiful countryside of China.
After Lianshan we cycled across the border into Guanxi, one of China’s most beautiful mountain areas. After cycling down on the flats, you catch your first sight of the limestone mountains, and you almost have to agree with the locals that it is the most beautiful scenery in the world.
The Chinese have been going to Guilin for centuries, and as you cycle through the hills and villages, it’s easy to imagine that life hasn’t changed much in that time.
A welcome break from the bicycle seat is to spend a couple of hours in a boat on the Li River. The boat travels at a gentle six kilometres an hour, and that’s a good way to leave the serenity of the countryside and enter the big smoke of Guilin.
Along the way we passed boats of fishermen with their cormorants ready to do a day’s work. The birds are trained to catch fish and take it back to their masters. Their necks have been tied so they aren’t tempted to swallow the catch, but they are well rewarded at the end of the day.
Guilin is one of China’s top five tourist attractions, and Chinese newlyweds aspire to spend their honeymoon there. The locals just adore fairy lights, and as you drive through the streets at night, you see incredibly detailed fairy light sculptures, from animals to historical characters.
The rock pillars are topped with a traditional pagoda, and De Xiu, the most dramatic of the hills, has 1000 steps which can be climbed to give you the most panoramic view of the city. Guilin’s most popular attraction is the Seven Star Cave, which has thousands of formations, and generally the landscape is perfect for poets, painters, photographers and romantics.
You cover about 100km each day, about 50km of that on your bike. World Expeditions supply bikes, but if you prefer to take your own, you will need a special permit. They are hard to come by, and it is worth noting that bikes are not allowed to be taken onto trains in Beijing.