This post was written on March 19, 2010.
On this morning we headed out of our hotel after breakfast and walked to the bus station that is just a few blocks away. Our intent was to find a taxi, but we quickly decided on a minibus when we saw our options. Little did we know, but the route to our destination was down little, pothole ridden, side streets, ancient villages and across rice paddies! Oh well, we made it safe and sound, if not a little jostled!
We learned pretty quickly that there was a “middle man” selling the boat rides and so we worked with him to arrange two bamboo rafts. I took Star and Mouse and Da took Xuxu and Pie.
The rafts truly are made of bamboo that is about 6 inches in diameter. The logs are laced together with wire and rope. We sat on bamboo reclining chairs that are “two seaters” and are tied to the boat with string. Our “driver” stands behind us with his bamboo pole that he pushes the boat along with. Ours began singing at the beginning of our journey and I was disappointed that he stopped as soon as my camera came out!
The ride was about 2.5 hours long and the scenery was stunning! I only wish that I had a polarized lens with me, my photos would have been much better! (I am hoping to buy one in Guilin before our Li River cruise!) Over the course of the trip we navigated probably 10+ dikes that cross the river for irrigation. Some of these dikes had areas about the width of a raft that we could “ride” over, but others had roads on them and we had to stop and get off so that the boat men could lift the rafts over.
We didn’t escape the vendors on this trip, they actually set up shop in the middle of the river! There was anything from “Xiao Chi” sellers to photography booths (with computers and printers hooked up to car batteries!!) These photographers would take photos of you as you “rode” over the dikes and splashed down into the water and would then try to sell you a print. I told the first few that I did not want one (Wo bu yao!) but I quickly came up with a better way! Point my camera at them and say, “Smile!” We didn’t buy any Xiao Chi, but Da took a moment to buy his boatman a beer so that he continue down the river! I’m glad my driver didn’t pull that one on me because I had NO money!
After our cruise and a quick dinner the big girls asked if they could do another painting lesson. We contacted the teacher and he told us to come right over. Today they learned how to paint the tree portion of a plum blossom. This was quite a bit more difficult than bamboo, and so the girls will need a lot more practice! On our way home we purchased the needed brushes, some Chinese water colors and a paint brush stand so that we can continue our lessons at home! (Youtube.com is full of Chinese painting lesson videos! Take a peek!)