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The Li River is one of the most famous rivers in China due to its spectacular beauty. The river is lined on both sides with limestone karst peaks. The peaks look as if they are the setting of a science fiction movie, shaped like gumdrops. They are more like mountains from a Dr. Seuss book than true landscape.
In the past, I have brought travelers on a boat ride down the Li River, from Guilin to Yangshuo. However, on my most recent trip to that area, we went on one of the smaller tributaries, the Yulong River.
The rafts are decked out with two chairs for travelers to sit and enjoy the scenery. We were a caravan of rafts. At times it was quiet and peaceful. The only sound was the water. At times, the "gondoliers" would converse with one another, usually about their guests. I heard them comment, in the local dialect, that I speak Mandarin, but couldn't understand them when they spoke in their dialect. While that is generally true, I was able to decipher some of their conversations about the Americans for whom they rowed that day. As I always do, I smiled to myself and acted ignorant.
The most exciting part of the ride was when we were poled down the elevation changes where the locals built little dams, over which we needed to float. The first one was very scary. It appeared as if we would fall forward into the water. Each time we descended was a little scary, but it really was not a big deal.
The beauty of this part of China is breath-taking. Every single person with whom I have traveled to this area has had the same impression, beyond spectacular. Join me on a bamboo raft ride down the Yulong!