A goodbye to the dreamland of Yangshuo, China

Sunset over Yangshuo town

Sunset over Yangshuo town

A soft rain is falling and mysterious clouds are dancing with the soft wind over the dramatic karst landscape outside. The sky is grey and all I can hear is the sound of the wind blowing. 

As I look to this beautiful scenery through my hotel room’s window, I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity I've had to spend twenty-three unforgettable days in Yangshuo.

China has always seemed so far from my reality (not only geographically) that it was even difficult for me to believe that one day I would have the chance to visit and explore this amazing country.

Right now, as I pack my bags to leave Yangshuo after almost a month, it’s still hard for me to realize I am actually here, in China. I’ve had so many special moments here that very often I felt I was having one of those beautiful dreams…

The fairytale-like landscape did fascinate me and to drive through those countless limestone hills and small, ancient villages was definitely a wonderful experience, but what made my trip so incredible was the people I was fortunate to meet here.

Without them, my Yangshuo adventure would have been just…cool; but thanks to them, it was memorable.

Cara, Christina, Jane, Karen and Yulian, thank you so much! You all gave me days I’ll never forget.

Thanks to Cara, Jane and Yulian, who all work at the hotel where I’ve stayed here, I got to know incredibly beautiful places off-the-beaten track; we saw mesmerizing sunrises and sunsets; hiked up mountains; explored Yangshuo county on a scooter; had morning and afternoon swims in the majestic Li river…

Cara posing for a portrait at Xianggong hill

Cara posing for a portrait at Xianggong hill

Jane, also at Xianggong hill. The sunrise we saw from there was truly spectacular. 

Jane, also at Xianggong hill. The sunrise we saw from there was truly spectacular. 

Yulian is pure joy and happiness!

Yulian is pure joy and happiness!

With my three angels here in yangshuo. Thank you so much girls!!

With my three angels here in yangshuo. Thank you so much girls!!

Without them, I would have certainly just seen the (very) touristic side of Yangshuo - which would have given me a dramatically different impression of this place.

But even if had discovered those remote and “unknown” places just by myself, I wouldn’t have enjoyed them as much as I did with them.

I will be forever thankful for all their willingness to help me and above all, for the friendship we’ve build during my three weeks here. Girls, you're the best!!

Christina, who I got to know through her Instagram account (www.instagram.com/whereissheexploring), not only happened to be in Yangshuo at the same time as me, but she was also at very same hotel! What a coincidence!

I knew very little about her before actually meeting her here in Yangshuo and I did think we would just have a drink and talk about two passions we both have: photography and travel.

Instead, we ended up having four amazing days exploring the surroundings of Yangshuo with her mom Karen, the three of us on the back of the old (but reliable, as it proved to be) scooter I had here.

I had a lot of fun driving with them through the countryside of Yangshuo county :)

I had a lot of fun driving with them through the countryside of Yangshuo county :)

What an amazing experience to travel through a country like China with your mom (or dad)…I hope one day I can do something like that with my parents…perhaps a motorbike trip with my dad through South America and an Eurotrip with my mom…hope we can make it happen.

Christina and her mom Karen got to Yangshuo almost at the end of my time here, when I already knew all the good spots, so during four days I drove them around and took them to the places that had become my favorites here. 

The day we had lunch with a local family at their house in a small farming village outside Yangshuo town.

The day we had lunch with a local family at their house in a small farming village outside Yangshuo town.

A sweet encounter during an afternoon drive through rice fields, mountains and ancient villages.

A sweet encounter during an afternoon drive through rice fields, mountains and ancient villages.

Christina and her mom Karen enjoying a serene sunset at Fuli bridge.

Christina and her mom Karen enjoying a serene sunset at Fuli bridge.

Still proud of Christina and I for making it to the top of Laozhai hill on her last day in Yangshuo. We were both sick and the hike up was very, very challenging, but I'm glad we didn't give up, as the sunrise was epic.

Still proud of Christina and I for making it to the top of Laozhai hill on her last day in Yangshuo. We were both sick and the hike up was very, very challenging, but I'm glad we didn't give up, as the sunrise was epic.

Tina, Karen, thank you so much! I enjoyed our adventures as much as you told me you did! :) It was awesome to be part of your China trip and I do hope we will meet again in the future, somewhere in this beautiful planet we are lucky to live in.

I have also to say thank you to Gerd, owner of the hotel where I stayed here, and so well received me. Thanks a lot man, you and all your staff made me feel at home. And thank you very much for all the support you gave me to get my work done here!

My job in Yangshuo was to make a short travel video for Yangshuo Insider (also owned by Gerd), and our goal was to show the beauty beyond the scenery. Local customs and traditions, less known places, the countryside, outdoor/adventurous activities…we wanted to offer a less touristic and more personal perspective of Yangshuo, and you can see if we’ve managed to achieve that with the video below. I hope you will think so :)

I really enjoyed making this video and I hope it will help to bring more travelers interested in a more authentic and unique experience here. It was not easy to put together all the footage we got, but I’m pleased with the final result.

Naturally, I’ve also made a good amount of still pictures, and you can see some of my favorite ones here.

Yangshuo will always have a special place in my heart and I will forever carry with me the wonderful moments I’ve had with the beautiful people I got to meet here.

China was one of the best chapters of my life so far (it will always be), but right now, it’s time to pack my stuff and go back to Cambodia, the country I’ve been calling home for almost two years now.

I don’t know yet when and to where my next trip is going to be, but I know that sooner or later I will be exploring somewhere new, unknown to me by then. Along with gratitude and compassion, curiosity is one of the most important values to me.

Curiosity about new places, new people, new stories, new experiences; this is what drives me. Life is about discoveries, exploration, learning, sharing…

Life is either an exciting adventure, or it’s nothing at all.

Bernardo Salce