"The Places We Live - Li River Cruise Part Three" Text written in white and red over an image of the Li River and karst mountains in Xingping, China.

The Journey of a Lifetime: Li River Cruise Part Three

I apologize for keeping you all waiting. I know how you feel. After years of dreaming, weeks of planning, and hours of being shuffled around, I was dying to get on this Li River cruise! In the last installment, we were nine hours in to our six hour Li River Cruise. Finally, we were loading onto the boat, given the cryptic instructions, “You, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.”

Catch up on Part One or Part Two ♥

4:30PM The Li River Cruise

We piled into the boat and found that the only remaining seats available were numbered one through six. Ahhh… we are seats “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6”. That made a lot more sense. We took a seat facing the Germans around a small square table. Contrary to what we had been promised, the tables were not covered by lovely white tablecloths, nor were the picture windows very large. No, the windows and the tables can be described using the same adjectives: small, dirty, a little sticky. So, par for the course, really.

I was not going to let my travel agent’s broken promises bring me down. I saw those mountains from afar and I knew I was finally having the moment I had been dreaming of for all of these years. So I held my head high, remained patient, and waited for our Li River Cruise to begin.

I remained patient while the hostess requested that we stay in our seats for 30 minutes. I was patient when the lovely scenery was passing me by in a blur of days old spit and condensation. I was patient when we stopped the boat after only five minutes of sailing so that we could all cram to the front of the boat and stand in line while every single passenger got their picture taken with the staged fishermen and the power line-littered scenery.

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The best shot I could get… with strangers in the photo, a boat with a beggar on it asking for money, another boat making the same stop, and a guy smoking a cigarette. Cool cormorants, though.

5:00PM – Waiting Is

The scenery continued to blur by while the other passengers ate or played on their phones. The hostess stood up front and showed us the various picture opportunities we were going to have and how much she would happily charge us for said pictures.

Josh was not very happy with me, but I forced him to ask the hostess again if we could go outside. My patience was at an end, and I was ready to throw a bitch overboard if I didn’t get my amazing pictures!

5:15PM – The Adventure of a Lifetime

And then it happened. The doors opened and everyone rushed outside to view the scenery we had been dying to see. I got elbowed in the face as I walked up the stairs, but I had no time for pain. This was my moment.

I stepped onto the roof of the boat with everyone else and felt the floor buckle. No shits were given. I would see this view if it meant I had to do it with my butt in the river. This was my moment!

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And so I took a million and one pictures of the beautiful scenery with a foreground full of heads. Everyone was excited and pushing to get the best views. A child ran around throughout the entire boat ride playing with a wooden slide whistle. But I didn’t care. This was my adventure of a lifetime and I was going to make the most of it.

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When life gives you lemons, make jokes.

Shortly after being allowed to go outside, the boat turned around and headed back upstream. There was another meal call and most of the Chinese tourists went back downstairs to demolish their snacks. This left me wondering where we were going, but also with a view nearly all to myself. This was my moment, and it was worth the wait.

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When we can see the air, we wear masks.

The view from my Li River cruise was everything I dreamed it would be, with hills layered for miles and foreign looking bamboo forests peeking around the stone cliffs. It truly was amazing.

7:00PM – Trip to Yangshuo

This chapter was supposed to be about our stop in adorable Xingping. Nope! Once again, our expectations were thrown aside. We never ended up going to Yangdi. The bus dropped us off in crummy-old Xingping and our boat cruise took us on an extremely slow, 90 minute round-trip ride. At least that meant I didn’t lose my backpack.

The tour guide asked if we were going to be riding the bus out of Xingping. I told him that we were and expected to be dropped off in Yangshuo. He nodded his impatient nod and let us back on the bus. The ride to Yangshuo was pretty quick and pleasant. All of the Chinese tourists were in a great mood, singing songs and munching on their purchased snacks. I enjoyed the music and the time to review my photos.

We made a couple of stops at who knows where to drop various people off. Finally, as the bus was about to leave from one of the stops, our tour guide jumped up in excitement and yelled for us to get off the bus. “Yangshuo! Yangshuo! You go Yangshuo! Here!” We got off at a gas station on the far end of town.

I had done quite a bit of research about the best way to get to the hotel from the bus station (where I was told we would be dropped off) so we, once again, put on our smiles and just hoped for the best. Thankfully, it paid off.

8:00PM – Our Six Hour Tour Finally Ends

After walking only a couple of blocks in the general direction of the hotel, a taxi pulled up and offered us a ride. And by taxi, I mean a modified motorcycle with a makeshift trailer attached that was covered with plastic. The price was fair and our bags were really starting to feel heavy. We crushed ourselves into the back of the tiny trailer and were whisked away on a bumpy ride through the city. Josh and I both agreed it was the most adventurous and most fun thing we have done in a while. Despite my love for those mountains, the taxi ride was my favorite part of the whole day.

We made it to the hotel in excellent time and with only a few bumps and bruises for our trouble. The hotel is wonderful and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Check out our review of the Sudder Street Guesthouse in Yangshuo ♥

After 13 hours, we were pretty tired of our six hour Li River Cruise adventure. It was a long and difficult day. I would still recommend the trip to anyone who has a tolerance for China-Life, but would recommend booking only when you know exactly what you are going to get. Be patient and remember to have fun along the way, no matter what. I may not have gotten the “view of a lifetime” I was hoping for, but it was definitely an adventure I will never forget, a true Journey of a Lifetime.


 

4 comments

  1. Tolerance sometimes is the best policy. Love your story and happy that you still considered the trip, in spite of the disappointments, a journey of a lifetime!

  2. Wow!! Quite the end to a long hurried day!
    I am getting married this spring and at the end of our first conversation with our (amazing) DJ, he said, you can plan your butts off until the day of, then just go with it. And if things don’t go exactly as planned, that’s what you will remember… I feel like this exemplifies your Li River cruise. I am enthralled with your adventure. I don’t know that I would have got on the motorcycle trailer! And the extra awesomeness that you are doing this together…. So fun!

  3. Keep up your great adventurous spirit. Your at a great time of your life to do this. The pictures are absolutely beautiful.

    Sent from my iPhone

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