One Fine Adventure: Yangshou
The popularity of the Guilin area of Guangxi Province has erupted in the past decade and is sure to continue along the same path as China becomes more tourist friendly. The city of Yangshou has become the epicenter of tourism in the region and is home to hotels, cafes, and tourists traps that are geared toward both foreign and national tourists. I will keep myself from beginning a glossy-eyed trip down memory lane, but I missed out on a time before North Face ruined the pure beauty of Yangshou. I only found this paradise myself. That being said, the stories of the travels who broke into the region and sent the first postcards home are inspiring. The town itself still wrestles with the progress that is a necessary evil brought along by Hollister clad Canadians when they decide that Cabo San Lucas simply will not do for the next round of beer pong.
Anyone adventurous enough to step more than ten meters from West Street will be welcomed into neighborhoods much older than the tourist guides where they are never mentioned. Hidden in the back alleys of Yangshou are aging women huddled around a fireplace or ancient men chain smoking their way through a game of cards. Small children push bicycles down sleepy flower lined streets while mothers wash clothes and prepare dinner in the warm sun. The Yangshou that can easily be overlooked is home to a family centered neighborhood community of people who seemed to be very welcoming to travelers of all languages. China, like the US, appears to be loosing a sense of community that creates healthy environments where the concern for neighbors helps to keep streets clean and safe. In one small, beautiful, corner of China there is a community of people that appear to still care more about their neighborhood than making a cheap buck off of the Patagonia clad strangers who are just passing through.
I am looking forward to returning to Yangshou soon so that I can walk through the small villages along the Lijiang River.