Best rock climbing China
Back in England in preparation for the trip, Ingrid and I set ourselves a challenge to climb rocks or walls in every country on our itinerary. In China, Yangshuo is the place to go, with the best and most developed rock climbing scene in all of China. The other reason we wanted to go to Yangshuo was to get out into the Chinese countryside with less tourism a for a good rest and an opportunity to soak up the atmosphere of real China.
Yangshuo Loong Old House
Yangshuo Loong old house turned out to be the right place for this. Although we soon discovered the location is Yulong, next to the Yu long river and not Yangshuo as we had assumed simply from the name of the place. Yangshuo Loong old house is a traditional style house with a courtyard, a swing seat, balls, instruments, a self serve kitchenette, swim rings, fishing nets and best of all bikes. We got a tandem for me and Ingrid and bike with child seat for Scott.
The only problem with being out in rural China was the limited access to different places to eat and consequently the expensive menu at the guest house. Food at the guesthouse was ok but very expensive so we made due with pot noodle lunch, lots of fruit and daily bike trips to try out the other eateries close by.
Top 5 in Yangshuo
A few days into our stay here , we went looking for a climbing centres in Yangshuo to talk to the guides and set up the climbing trips. After hours of looking we were disappointed that we could not find the office or either of the 2 main climbing clubs that operate here! Eventually we found a small climbing wall called Rock Abode so we stayed here for a little boulder session and a cool drink before heading back to the guesthouse.
It turns out that the best way to arrange climbing is to email or call, Karst climbing or Black rock climbing. We went climbing with Alei and Ginger at Karst climbing in the end. Due to the hot afternoons we opted for 1/2 day sessions in the morning at 2 different crags, Swiss cheese and Twin gates. Once there we managed around 6 routes each day with grades ranging from 4-6b+.
Ingrid did all routes on top rope while I did mainly lead. Swiss cheese was amazing, full of friction and tiny pockets with routes up to 28 m.
Our second day of climbing was our 1st day of rain in China. Alei had told me we would still climbed if it rained so I was hoping I would not be disappointed. Twin Gates crag has a quirky overhang at the very top that keeps it dry in almost any weather. It has to giant caves at the bottom where you can keep your gear dry and hangout while the rain pours down. The rock here was more like traditional granite and quite polished in some areas. However, we enjoyed this crag more as it was much more technical and had some really cool routes.
Climbing with a guide is quite expensive here, 800Y for a full day and 400 for 1/2 day per person. The price includes, transport, gear, insurance and guides. I would love to come back here with some buddies for weeks of pure climbing trying out some of the 50 odd crags on offer.
We love cycling back in England and found that it was the best way to experience and enjoy the landscape here. Roads are flat most of the time and traffic is generally accommodating to cyclists as it is a common mode of transport. We went everywhere on the bikes, up and down the Yulong river, visiting ancient bridges and local villages. We also cycles to Baisa, the nearest town for food and trips to the supermarket to get fruit and snacks.
Swim in the river
Swimming in the river was probably the kids favourite activity here. Paul and I did go in for a dip or 2 but the lack of locals swimmers made us a bit unsure how clean the water actually was. Our landlady assured us the water was safe and the kids didn’t mind so in we went. Despite a longwinded explanation and a map at our hotel we struggled to find the spot where you go in for swim, but when we eventually got there it was shallow and fresh, perfect way to end a hot and sticky day.
Majoring is an ancient and still popular Chinese table game. We bought a set in Yangshuo with the intention of learning how to play and hopefully play with the locals while in China. Paul and Ingrid spent an afternoon working out how to play, then taught me and Scott. The best part of playing Majong here was the landlady inviting us to play a game on her electric majoring table. You put collected all the bricks in a pit. The table then arranged them and spat them up up the table in 4 neat rows. How can you not just love that!!
Time for tea
Ingrid and I got a lesson from the landlady in the art of making tea Chinese style. Not only did we both love making it but also drinking it, black! This is how Ingrid and I developed our current evening ritual of writing our diaries over cups of black tea. Long may it continue:-)