May 31, 2010

Karst Country

It was a gloomy day, but spirits were high as we set sail on the Li River. On the bus to the ferry terminal, I had met two Spaniards and an American who were also on their way from Guilin to the sleepy riverside town of Yangshuo. Dozens of Chinese tourists joined us for the cruise before returning to the big city the same day, while we remained behind in tiny Yangshuo. Midway through the cruise I spotted two men on a bamboo raft approaching our ferry. I thought they were pirates and prepared myself accordingly. They had actually come to sell souvenirs to the ship's passengers.

A large tributary of the Yangtze, the Li River is famous for its karst formations. The jagged peaks line the river, each bend revealing scenery more spectacular than the previous. Karsts are formed over thousands of years, as rainwater combines with carbon dioxide to dissolve bedrock into intricate patterns. The Li River is spectacular enough to warrant a place among China's currency hall of fame, appearing on the back of the 20 RMB note.


“If my ship sails from sight, it doesn't mean my journey ends, it simply means the river bends.” ~ John Enoch Powell