Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

China: Day 12

by Kathy 7. September 2010 11:49

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<< Day 11: Lijiang—“Impression: Lijiang” Show | Day 13: Chao Long, Peaceful Tranquility >>


Chao Long, Just What the Doctor Ordered


The rural community of Chao Long proved to be the perfect place to recuperate from my stomach ailments, as well as to recharge the entire family. We had absorbed and learned so much during our time in China, and our sensory input levels were full. Like a large basin of water slowly spiraling down a narrow drain, we needed to sit for a while and let all of the new information and experiences sink in.

Chao Long is a mere 2 ½ miles from the city of Yangshuo, and about 45 miles south of the city of Guilin. When planning our trip, we were drawn to this area by pictures of the mysterious-looking “gumdrop” mountains. We just had to see them for ourselves.

We were not disappointed—here is a view of the mountains near our inn.

When researching places to stay, I stumbled across the website for Yangshuo Outside Inn—and I immediately knew that this was the place for us.

The Inn offers rooms in renovated mud brick farmhouses that once were inhabited by residents of the Chao Long village. In 2002 the main road running by Chao Long had been paved, and many residents had moved to new homes along the paved road. The Dutch owner of Outside Inn had found the abandoned homes while bicycling through the region, and he was able to negotiate a lease that allowed him to transform the homes into an inn (through much hard work and renovations).

For four nights, we stayed in the quaint house known as “Helen’s House.” It consisted of an entryway and bathroom in the middle, with a bedroom on each side of the entryway. The rooms were equipped with mosquito nets, and the children had bunk beds. The house was perfect for us.

The outside of Helen’s House, showing the windows to both of our rooms:

The children’s room:

The adults’ room:

Looking down the walkway toward the other rooms/houses at the inn:

Genevieve and Sebastian were ecstatic to find a play area with a large bin of legos, one of their favorite toys.

And they learned how to play ping pong:

For me, the best part about the Inn was the location—right in the midst of the karst hills, with farmlands all around, and a slow pace of life that that imposed no demands. Just breathe.

After all of our sightseeing activities lately, the Chao Long community provided the refreshing balance that we needed in our journey.

During our stroll to the nearby Yulong River, we saw the local people going about their daily lives, without anyone trying to cater to us as “tourists.”  Next to the Inn, a woman with a hand saw was clearing a large clump of bamboo.

Some of the bamboo stalks were huge.

Here are the kids and I on the narrow dirt lane that leads to the main road. (Notice how Sebastian is giving Genevieve a big--albeit unwanted--hug.)

Laundry was hung out to dry in front of this small home:

Bamboo rafts were stretched out beneath some trees, and we wondered what technique the builders had used to curve the ends of the rigid bamboo stalks upward.

We crossed the paved road, where the newer homes were located.

On the other side, the dirt lane continued toward the river.

Our path wound through some crop fields.

We were fascinated by one woman who dipped two buckets into a stream, balanced them on a pole against her shoulders, and then carried the heavy load back to her plants, at a brisk pace.

Genevieve and Sebastian were our explorer scouts, leading the way:

One small fire was sending huge billows of white smoke into the air. A woman was raking dead piles of brush and feeding them to the hungry flames.

We saw our first water buffalo, grazing in a field.

We soon saw many more.

Someone had created a cozy resting spot—or perhaps a temporary home—with a cinder block wall in the back and an umbrella for a roof.

Along the Yulong River were saturated rice fields, maintained in neat geometric shapes.

This large rock pillar almost looked like some type of ancient ruin, overgrown with shrubs.

The layered hills around us had a ghostly appearance, as if we could see through some of them.

The karst hills are nick-named “gum-drop” mountains because of the rounded tops of many of them. The rock is limestone, and the unusual shapes were created by thousands of years of erosion.

Leading to the river was an elevated path between the watery fields.

The Yulong River was very peaceful.

Many people travel to the big cities of Guilin and Yangshuo to see the much wider Li River, which also runs through the karst hills. The Yulong River, which empties into the Li, is much smaller and more intimate.

Some bamboo rafts were floating next to an abandoned building.

Can you feel the serenity?

We looped back to Chao Long, zigzagging our way through the fields.

Chao Long, in the distance:

Sebastian was having fun!

At first glance, deep footprints in the rice fields appeared to be a reflection of sky and mottled clouds.

A closer view of Chao Long:

This home was built on pilings over the water:

Back on the paved road:

This man was playing basketball while his little girl watched:

(He was also quite adept at smoking with no hands.) We waved and said “hello” (in Mandarin), but we didn’t have the words to start a conversation. Regarding the term “language barrier,” we have found that not being able to speak a language does indeed create a barrier to making deeper connections with people when traveling.

This newer hotel, named “International Chain Village Inn,” was on the main road:

Its cheery yellow paint was inviting, but we were glad that we were staying away from the main street, down this narrow road:

We loved the free-roaming chickens:

Today was all about relaxing. We had a leisurely dinner at the inn’s restaurant, which offered a wide variety of food—vegetarian, Chinese and European—all freshly prepared and consistently superb. Genevieve and Sebastian enjoyed the chocolate milkshakes:

The inn was managed by an English/Swiss couple, Michael and Nadine, who worked long hours every day to ensure that all of their guests were happy. Ben and I had a wonderful conversation with Nadine after dinner. Here I am with Nadine:

Michael and Nadine have traveled extensively throughout the world, and have been in Chao Long for the past two years.  Their two sons are about the same age as Genevieve and Sebastian.

Sebastian spent the evening playing with the boys, while Genevieve got some pool lessons from her dad.

As for me, I found a book to read among the impressive collection left behind by fellow travelers. The book (“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran) pulled me in, and I was lost until the wee hours of the morning—yes, it was that good.

Today was exactly what I needed to feel rejuvenated and refreshed—both in body and spirit.

<< Day 11: Lijiang—“Impression: Lijiang” Show | Day 13: Chao Long, Peaceful Tranquility >>


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Map of Our Journeys

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Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin