The one big thing we wanted to do while in Chaolong was take a bamboo raft down the Yulong river. There are actually a lot of other big things to do here, but when you have fourteen other countries to go, you have to ration the 'big things' or you'll run out of money by the fifth country!
There were a couple of options when it came to the bamboo raft. When discussing it with the woman at our hotel, she felt the best way would be to do the one and a half hour bike ride first and then the raft ride, leaving just a little bit of biking back to Chaolong. This way was best because the majority of the time we'd be on a secondary road with no cars, so it would be safer for the kids. To be honest, all I heard was "one and a half hour bike ride".
But, we woke up nice and early and packed B's backpack with our essentials, ate a hardy breakfast and went to get our bikes. The hotel rents them out really cheaply. We knew they had tandem bikes so we went for one of those for David and I because I am a nervous bike rider and I knew I would be feeling much better this way. The kids had their bikes and we had our map and we were off!
We did pretty well with getting there. For us, anyway. There was some back-tracking, second-guessing ourselves, Amazing Race-style bickering moments but not bad, I must say. None of these paths are marked and no one speaks English. One man gave good directions and that helped but then the path dropped off to a dirt and rock track and we second-guessed ourselves. We shouldn't of, we were right. So we asked another couple of men, who told us the opposite way, or appeared to, I really have no idea what they were trying to say. There was a lot of motioning and saying the same phrase over and over again - most likely "idiot foreigner'. I don't know. Then we ran into a couple of guys from Eastern Europe who looked as happy to see us as we were to see them. They told us to go back and that the dirt track lasted only ten minutes and David helped them get to Yangshuo. Phew!
We turned around and started the ride up. Bereket was the only one who chose to ride the track part. It was way too rocky and bumpy. It didn't last long at all, thankfully.
Each raft is made of ten rods of bamboo wired together with thick guage wire. They are also treated and smoked for some reason. A husband and wife make rafts outside their house just two doors down from our apartment (across the street from the Chinese Reggae place - I kid you not). Each raft comes equipped with two low chairs, two life vests (the river is really shallow right now though), an umbrella and a gondolier (bambolier?).
Lele: "Hello. Is beautiful here."
Me: "It is beautiful. The mountains are beautiful."
Lele: "Hello. Mountains, beautiful. You, beautiful."
I laughed so hard. Dear Eskedar felt it was inappropriate. :) She liked when he asked if she was my baby though.
The trip lasted an hour and a half and went through four or five little waterfalls. It was very relaxing. No rapids or anything.There was beautiful scenery to look at and you were really grateful for the umbrella because it was really getting hot out.
Our apologies if people have been trying to reach us through Gmail while we have been in China. Some days we can see Gmail but not answer it, other days, Gmail is up and running (actually, only in Beijing) and most days, it’s off completely (like Shanghai and here). We will be out of the Chinese government’s firewall when we are over the border so we’ll be able to reply to people, including people that have commented on the blog or used the Contact page.
Until October, we wish you well! Xie Xie for reading!