This is Guilin. For Chinese terms, the small town has ‘only’ 4 million residents. Luckily, it is not the least bit urban and its architecture, the locals’ lifestyle and atmosphere are entirely subject to the unique scenery of Karst topography. Life expectancy is among the highest in the world here and the city has many old people over the age of 100.

The trip starts from the dock South of Liberation Bridge in Guilin downtown area. You will see Elephant-Trunk Hill nearby, the first impressive landmark this area has to offer.

Many transporters will offer you cruise down the Li River to Yangshuo, at various prices, but don’t be stingy. You will probably visit this place once in a lifetime and splurge on the most luxurious ticket which includes the most comfortable boat, lunch on board and a ride back to Guilin. It will cost you about $100.

You will see countless scenes like this during the 52-mile trip (83 kilometers). Type in ‘ Li River’ to Google Images and you will find thousands of images like these! Huh, I want to go again…

You will come across fishermen down the river, whose only tools are these birds that catch prey with their beaks. Their necks are tightened with a ring, so that they don’t swallow the fish…

A part of the scenery you will see halfway down the river is also depicted on the back of a 20-yuan bill.

Occasionally, your boat will be beset by river fruit vendors on rafts. They will throw a few pounds of mandarins, oranges or pomelos over and you’ll throw them some bills.

Don’t forget to click hundreds of photos during the cruise, and not just of the scenery, but also of yourself in this land. I didn’t forget, of course…

The ride is coming to an end, which means we are approaching Yangshuo. Take a deep breath, cast a few last looks of the Li River and Karst Peaks and store it deep in your memory…

Yangshuo is a small town with a total of 300.000 living in its surroundings, which means this is a hamlet for Chinese terms. It is full of restaurants offering authentic local, as well as Vietnamese cuisine, silk traders and hidden boutiques with the best knock-offs of designer bags in the world.