Yangshuo: Grateful for Rain

Yes, that’s right. I was grateful for the “bad” weather during my time here. Crazy, huh? Well, normally I’d wish for blue skies just like the next fella, but something about this place made the rain feel appropriate. In fact, sunny weather would’ve been a bit lacking.

I awoke my second morning in Yangshuo and realized it was colder, and wetter, than the day before. But I brought my raincoat for a reason and wasn’t discouraged I had to use it. Yangshuo is all about its outdoors, and if nature brings rain, then so be it:

A good day for a trek?

I even rented a bike because I wanted to cover more ground. So on this day I squinted my eyes and peddled through the precipitation. Peddle with me, would ya? 🙂 It was well worth it.

I hopped atop my steed and glided by businesses opening and pedestrians with umbrellas. It was just a drizzle, but it was still a drizzle. And with my hood wrapped over the back and sides of my head, it was all I could do to be cautious in the reliable chaos of Chinese traffic. I was on a main street heading out of town, but wanted to explore more of the city. So I veered off the beaten path and found a hill which I could climb. Carefully, I made my way up these steps:

No hand rails here; just keep your weight directly above your feet.

It was only about 75 steps, and the view was quite picture worthy.

Yangshuo from above.

Dramatic landscapes can provide an incredible calm. Like gaping into the Grand Canyon, they’re a shock to the senses, a reality telling us, ‘See? This is how small you are. Stop taking yourself so darn seriously. Calm down.’

This view was teamed with a light breeze and quiet. You know that feeling you get from a slow walk in the woods or a mellow cruise along the lake at sundown, not a ripple on the water? Moment by rich moment. But it was more than just the emotional sensation. The rain added to the affect with a physical accompaniment. It was cleansing and clarifying.

I stood and let my guard down and the sobering affect of the drizzle played its part. I actually had some negative feeling come up, apparently needing this window to pass through. Then like a loon’s call on that calm lake, I heard music below somewhere in the thicket of Yangshuo. It resembled a marching band and it sounded like it was coming straight off the record player, some crackles in there for affect. Somehow it made for an appropriate soundtrack.

I got down after a 20 minutes or so and began to bike once more. This time out of town.

I soon was reminded that, like snow, rain isn’t as pretty in the city. Away from town, the drizzle was nourishing and energizing. (Maybe this is why I used to love playing in the rain as a child so much.) I came across other travelers. This gang was enjoying themselves as well:

Looks like fun, doesn't it?
Indeed it does.

This next group from Europe was determined not to let a little rain spoil a family vacation. And they didn’t care how they looked doing it:

'But dad, I can't see anything!';
I think they got it a few sizes too big.

Then I turned the camera on myself:

At one stop a lady called out from across the street. She had to prove her sales skills:

I couldn't resist an honest smile.

And they say good things come in twos, right?

I think they were just after my money.

These ladies are living out their post-golden years peddling flowers to passers by. Kinda cute; a bit saddening; a little touching. I bought some postcards from them and kept going. I had a river to reach.

The bike trial ran alongside the Yudong River. At one point I stood on its bank. This experience contrasted the agitation of the day prior; no noisy engines this time. Drivers navigated by pushing long poles against the river bottom. I watched these flat, bamboo rafts glide by with passengers on board. It was graceful. It was also dreamy. Mist hovered above the water as the drizzle tapped hypnotically against my coat. I looked down and could see fish below the bank. And of course, let’s not forget the anchor of this picture: the signature hilltop terrain in the background. Such a sight; and a second chance to bask. But no old memories came to mind this time: I was all there.

Then I mounted and proceeded:

One last stop provided my favorite shots of the landscape:

It looks like earth shed from the mountaintops and collected below. And now the collected areas resemble the land being curling back toward you. I don’t how these giants were created. (Seriously, is there a geologist in the house?)

Yangshuo’s drastic terrain is a catalyst for a lot of feelings. This day was about letting the natural power of this environment saturate me and transfuse my spirit.

The next day Jordan, Carla and I headed back to Zhuhai. Batteries charged. Here’s to rejuvenation the old fashioned way–with nature.

to new plateaus,



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