Guilin - Yangshou

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Cruising the Li River

Some years ago I had seen a short documentary at the Banff Mountain Film Festival called "Dancing With Cormorants".  It stayed with me and when I decided to go to China, I wanted to see the karst formations and cormorant fishing on the Li River at Guilin/Yangshuo for myself


Michael, Barbara, Karen, Laura and Bill, cruising down the river on a disappointingly dull Easter Sunday afternoon

Even in 2016 with Photo Shop at my disposal , I still can't make these Easter Sunday images 'sparkle'


We have the crashing together of the tectonic plates which formed the Himalayas to thank for the magical distinctive scenery in and around Guilin.  The upheaval pushed up the sea floor exposing limestone to the elements.   Sink holes and caves appearing in the dissolving limestone formed the karst peaks we see today.   It is a landscape of stunning beauty even when viewed in such horrible rainy conditions


Which come to think of it is responsible for the Karst in the first place

The gloomy grey wet weather persisted and not even the prospect of lunch could assuage the disappointment

 Maybe I should just cheat and take the images into Filter Forge and do something , like this or that



Monday was a brighter day as we sailed to Yangshou our base for the next few days.  These red sailed junks really cheered things up

Cormorant fishing on the Li River was the traditional way of life.  The gas lanterns on the rafts dotted along the river were an extraordinary site.  By the time we visited fishing this way was scarcely viable and most of the Li River had been closed to fishermen due to environmental concerns.   What we saw was a pre arranged demonstration especially organised for tourists.  I tried to get out in a boat at dawn with some fishermen but the weather wouldn't co-operate and we had to move on

The traditional rafts and hanging lanterns so beloved by the postcard seller.   They are constructed of five 20' lengths of giant bamboo




'Our' fisherman favours a more substantial boat but he was barefooted as per National Geographic.   The birds fish in a 30'net set around the boata noose tied around their necks prevent them swallowing the catch.   It will take 4 hours with 3 cormorants to fill a basket with fish, once he has his catch he unties the noose and lets the birds eat.   A fishing cormorant can live for 30 years but they retire after 20


I hope it is still possible to get a more authentic experience but not I think in Guilin - Yangshou where the waters are too busy and choppy with tour boats to get the beautiful shots with reflections on mirror calm waters that I was hoping for


                    Waiting for his share of the catch

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