Sunday, November 4, 2012


We reached Yangshou in 2 hours- a bustling tourist town in the heart of the karst mountains n the Li River. Our hotel was a short walk (thankfully- hauling these packs around is starting to wear thin already) from the bus station, and as we discovered that night- smack in the busiest bar and restaurant district.

Scenic Yangshou- karst limestone mountains behind

 The room here was more spacious than in Hong Kong and even had a balcony overlooking the street. We dumped our packs, showered vigorously and met up with our new guide Chen who helped us order lunch on a nearby sunny patio. Did I mention its been 28C and sunny since I arrived in China? We enjoyed some refreshing local beer with the local specialty beer fish (catfish in beer broth with mixed peppers). Over lunch, we plotted our excursions for Chen to arrange, and then we took to explore the town. Suzanne the Dutch girl and I soon found ourselves in the market district and quickly polished our bargaining skills. I bought more than intended but got some very unique items not seen elsewhere.

Beer Fish and local beer-yum yum!

After another delicious shared Chinese meal, Chen brought us to the riverbank where we boarded a typical bamboo raft to watch the cormorant fishermen. This is mainly done for show now as most fishing is done commercially, but it was a very interesting experience and one I had on my Must See List for the trip. The fisherman has 4-5 wing-clipped cormorants leashed to his raft. As they catch fish, the fisherman quickly pulls them into the boat and squeezes the fish from their beak into his basket. The birds cannot swallow the fish due to the tight cord around their throats. If the cormorants don’t dive frequently enough, the fisherman has them trained to dive at the splash of his oar. We watched for about 30 minutes and they caught a couple pounds of small fish.

Cormorant Fisherman

The fishermen treated the birds very gently and humanely. We all beached our boats nearby, and he there removed their leashes and fed them from the basket. The cormorants themselves were very tame and well trained- I posed with one on my shoulder.  Our guide told us it takes 3-4 months to train the birds. Maybe I will look into doing this next summer from my seadoo- who’s up for a fish fry?
Is that a cormorant on your shoulder, or are you just happy to see me?

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