My fingers felt they were sandpaper, and my thigh felt iron bars. These are the eggs of climbing fun, a legendary karst rock in Yangshuo, China.
After the opening of a large number of luxury hotels, this gem in southern China climbed to the radar: as Asia’s most anti-drug campaign town and the most beautiful countryside in China.
I am here to put my heart rate in as many different ways as possible – at one extreme, one day, dusk-till-dawn adventure.
I hold a slim shelf on the rock, in the struggle of the road, very slow, only 10 meters egg 60-metre high face. I am making a 5.8 level climb, a tough start for beginners. It is said that I was doing “very good” – or at least my guide Aniu climbed from the local company BlackRock to say so. He stood below, feeding the rope to the hook and loop, hooking the rock surface slowly.
I hope he did not notice that I had broken the first rule of rock climbing: never grasp the hook to stabilize yourself.
Thirty years ago, a small settlement in the Chinese province of Guangxi in Yangshuo was a rice-making country, until the backpackers had asked for banana pancakes, Tsingtao beer jugs and some adventures to travel between Beijing and Hong Kong.
They will hang the eggs, punish 45 minutes after I have not half. I have surpassed the Russian couple, a young Australian and British, all gliding effortlessly on the gray limestone rock surface. They come here because it’s cheap, rock climbing is excellent and there’s a huge variety of climbing abilities for most.
However, there are good reasons to slow it down. Even from an embarrassing low altitude, the view across the valley is epic. Due to the eruption of limestone karst environment from the shallow basin along the Lijiang River, a few meters away from the ground, you are very grateful to Guangxi rice terraces, plus other rugged rocks I should climb, fall around the rope or drop. They include the Moon Hill (like a mossy green arches that descend on the ropes), the bottle cliffs and Swiss cheese, so named because it is full of holes. Then I remember my body feels like a piece of lead. Aniu could be too polite to speak. Not surprisingly, I never took the time to climb.
Aniu somewhat local legends – North Face-sponsored climbers, from Duyang, a small town near the Vietnamese border. He has been climbing in Yangshuo for almost ten years and has moved here to join other like-minded adventurers. “This is Asia’s capital for climbing,” he told me, pointing to a group of crude Americans. Rising costs in climbing paradises Yosemite and Utah are so high that adventurers move to China.
They not only expand the Yangshuo karst environment, though. This new adventurer is descended by the ropes, gliding through – or kayaking.
This is almost lunch time, the Lijiang River through the town of Yangshuo as neat paddle pierced the quiet water. The river is narrow, shallow glass-flat, but there are many: fishermen cast fishing nets, bamboo sway, backpackers whiz footing temporary rafts. On canoeing spots, Yangshuo is an extremely Instagrammable, imminent karst, along the banks of lush reeds.
After a bowl of noodles, this is my thigh, put the plan: with a doughnut-fat mountain bike wheel. Due to the shallow basin, Yangshuo sits on the saddle is the ideal exploration. Rent a bike from any store in the town (or, if you keep it, the Banyan Tree Rentals to the guests free of charge), take it off-road to the rice paddies around the city. It’s that simple.
Or leave Yangshuo to find some break the track route. For a simple peddling of large river views, close to Lee – or Am Pace, the cycle near Xianggong Hill and the floating temporary staircase by local enterprising. Just do not do it down after the egg – even though the top of the spectacle may make you forget the annoying lactic acid piled up in your legs.
In the evening, the sunset, gaudy-but-worth-it light shows darkness at startup – has illuminated the karst environment. In the city center of Yangshuo West Street, there is a different kind of adventure: huge loudspeakers exploding psychedelic music as the locals turn the trestle table to sell you your dinner. Places for young international and local climbers, bit adventurers, many backpackers wearing elephant-print trousers (moaning) and groups of treble girls with problematic sticks and Hello Kitty cell phone cases. Many people say you should avoid the town of Yangshuo but I find it very interesting one night.
Deviate from West Street’s coy alleys, you’ll find street snack stalls selling hot, damp dumplings and local specialty “Pijiu Yu” – Lijiang fish fried tomatoes, peppers and beer. Very good – spicy and soup.
At 8.30 pm I could not open the bar door or hold the legacy of chopsticks and eggs – thus escaping rusty bolts, a bike shop daytime nighttime, live music bar, and Yangshuo dizzy upper-class gathering place. The only problem is: in the egg can not fit the whole morning, my arm is too unstable to seize my Tsingtao beer. The town’s adventure paid a high price.