We didn’t plan to go to Yangshuo.
In fact, had you asked us, before we got there, to point it out on a map we would’ve failed miserably.
We were in Chengdu and we were tired.
We wanted to go somewhere where we could just sit for a while. Get the kids focused on doing some school work and chill out. No big monuments that we’d miss if we stayed in. No reason to do anything more than take a walk to stretch our legs.
And so we bought a ticket to Guilin. When the issue of where to stay came up I turned to Expedia. There was a sale on that day. Stay at the Hidden Dragon Villa Hotel in Yangshuo – described as a quiet countryside – for about $45 a night. We took it.
Now understand that one of the things we’ve learned on this trip is that the name of a place doesn’t necessarily accurately describe it. Resort, Suite, Villa — are just words subbed into titles not descriptions so we were under no illusions that our “villa” might be more accurately described as a “cubby hole.” Still we were willing to take a shot. We emailed the hotel and agreed to pay extra for the 1.5 hour drive out of the city given that we were landing late that night.
The car was waiting when we arrived and within minutes the kids were lying across my lap fast asleep in the back despite the lady gaga videos playing up front on the built-in player. I was tired and I just wanted to get to the hotel.
Then I looked out the window.
Mountains that looked more like very tall hills with rounded tops surrounded us. They seemed to have sprung out of nowhere and in the darkness of night they were breathtaking. The moon shining on the ones in front gave the illusion that the ones behind were simply shadows but they weren’t. They went on for miles and they were beautiful.
When we got to the Hidden Dragon Villa the beauty continued. The hotel is like the large house of an old friend.
The ladies that met us at the front door were warm and inviting. More interested in getting our kids up to their beds then collecting our credit card information. They offered cool towels and fresh juice to refresh us.
When we woke in the morning and went up to the roofside restaurant we were sold. The landscape was even more beautiful in the daylight. Rice paddies out front, green hills in the distance, simple rafts making their way up the river and a quiet we hadn’t heard in all our time in China.
24 hours after being at the Villa we rebooked. We spent a week in Yangshuo and would’ve happily stayed another.
We will be back.