This was a very pleasant town to hang around for a while. The scenery in the surrounding areas is really beautiful. We noticed that on the Lonely Planet site someone posted a question to experienced travelers. They asked them to name the most beautiful place they had ever traveled to. Yangshou came up on many people’s responses. Some travelers then responded “Are you crazy?” “It’s just a bunch of western style restaurants and a load of shops selling junk”. Obviously these people did not take the time to explore outside the main town area. Make sure to get out and see the beautiful countryside, you won’t be disappointed.
A Day Of Biking To Outlying Villages
The best way to experience Yanshou is by bike. One day we rode out to a village called Fuli. It’s recommended to go to the outlying villages on market days. Trying to figure when a particular village has a market day can be challenging. The market is held for one day in each place on a rotating schedule. It usually comes to each village every 3 days, but sometimes every 4 days, There are also some days when there is no market. So it gets very confusing. This obviously puzzles some locals too, as we were told the wrong day by someone for one of the villages.
The ride out to Fuli village was very scenic. You ride past acres of farm land with backgrounds of tall pointy mountains. This particular market was not anything special. It was mostly produce, clothing and odds and ends for sale.
We got stuck down a skinny passage way with a bunch of caged chickens. We made sure not to breath and walked through as quickly as possible. The voice of my mom rang through my head, “stay away from the bird markets when you’re in Asia, you’ll get the bird flu!”
We got stared at by a lot of people while we wandered around. One guy looked at me, then at Jack who was following behind me. He gave him the thumbs up and said “okay”. I guess he liked me. We spotted only one other set of tourists while wandering around the market, and didn’t see any others on the whole bike trip.
On the ride back we stopped several times to just sit and take in the scenery. When you travel for a long period of time you can start to take for granted all the amazing things you are doing. We suddenly got a reality check that we were riding bikes through the countryside of China!
This is one of the many cormorant fisherman in the area. He ties a rope to one of the birds legs to keep it with him. The bird is taken out on a boat to fish. A wire is tied around the birds neck to prevent it from swallowing any of the large fish. This practice has been used for centuries in China. There are many cormorant fishing tourist trips you can book. They take out on a boat on the river so you can watch the birds catch the fish. We chose not to do it, but lucked out getting some photos of this fisherman and his bird.
Xilang Shan Peak
We climbed up Xilang Shan Mountain to the small temple. It was several hundred stairs to get to the top, but well worth it. It gave a great view of Yangshou. The town doesn’t seem that big until you get up there and see how far it spreads. The peak is in Yangshou Park. The park is a nice place to stroll around after you come down from the peak.
Green Lotus Peak
This peak also has a lot of sets of stairs to get to the top. This gave a lovely view of the Li River. We bumped into a Chinese family who wanted us to take their picture with their camera. I took it, but it was very back lit, you could not see their faces. It was a simple point and shoot. None of us could figure out how to get the flash to go off. We said sorry and started on our way. We kept looking back and could see the family continue to struggle with the camera trying to make it work. We felt bad, thinking they must really want the picture of them with the river and mountains in the background. They may have come a long way from somewhere else in China to see the beauty of the Li River.
We went back over to them. The parents could not speak English at all. The younger daughter was having a lot of difficulty understanding us, but I finally got her to understand what I was saying. I was asking if she had an email. She said yes so I held up my camera and said I would take a picture and send it to them. They seemed a bit nervous, but posed while I took it. I showed them on the screen and they seemed very happy with how it looked. The Dad nodded in great appreciation. She wrote down her email for us. We emailed the picture later that day and hoped they would be able to receive it okay. It was about 2 days later and we got a thank you email from the daughter. It was very sweet. She had tried very hard to write it in English. It was hard to understand, but we got the general idea of how thankful she and her family were to get the picture.
Exploring On Foot Outside The Tourist Area
On foot we took the time to explore the streets outside of the town center of Yangshou. We went for a long walk one day that took us through several residential areas. A lot of the roads were dirt and under construction. We passed by street side shops with people doing different jobs like fixing bicycles, sewing clothing or selling goods. It’s quite common to see someone on a little side street with a bunch of meat for sale. We’re not sure how sanitary this is sitting out on a piece of wood in the heat.
There is a nice walk along the river that takes you to where the boat tours dock. If you didn’t get quite enough shopping in town there is a long string of shop stalls set up on the beginning of the walkway.
There are many other areas of interest to explore on foot throughout the town. Just pick a direction and go. We felt very safe the entire time we wandered around. We have heard that pick pocketing and theft is getting increasingly more common in Yangshou. However we spent two weeks out and about the area and never had any problems. As with anywhere you travel just keep your wits about you.