To rest our aching bodies from climbing, a group of four decided it might be a good idea to float down the river in tire tubes for an afternoon… The Li River that runs through Yangshuo is a big, slightly dirty river, so we opted for a scouting trip of a smaller tributary upstream near Xingping, which is supposed to have a few little rapids on it.
Armed with tire tubes, a few necessities in a dry-bag and optimism for a fun afternoon, Eman, Chan, Fei Fei and myself jumped off a local bus in Xingping looking for a way to ‘the small river near here with the nice photos’. We struck it lucky with a bus that was headed in that direction… It turns out that this bus was full of customers of a rafting company, which runs trips on the same river.
At the get-in, with 3 tire-tubes and a Lilo, our team looked as comical as we felt. Ignoring warnings from locals that it is not possible, we jumped into the boiling white-water at the bottom of a large drop at the beginning. And thus began the carnage as the dry-bag (open) of valuables was set free along with a tube as Chan made his less than graceful launch.
For the next hour, the team plummeted down series’ of engineered chutes and drops with a steep gradient. Forwards, backwards, sideways, or underneath your craft were all methods used for this inaugural ‘tube-descent’. Provided you could stay upright and in the main flow, things were all OK. It was on the frequent occasions when a tube or lilo was not enough, that the rocky streambed was able to have its way with our hapless bodies. The encounter could be best described as bruising, with all of us coming out a little worse for wear, not that that could stop the whooping or wipe the grins from our faces…