Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘sunset’

On our third full day in Yangshuo we decided to ditch the mountain bike idea and hire an electric scooter. You don’t need a license for them and I had owned one back in Xiaoshan so felt comfortable driving one despite the large numbers of cars, bicycles and people on the roads. At just 80 Yuan for the day and our passports as deposit we collected our scooter from a hotel near the river. First up was breakfast.

Locking up the scooter we hired for the day

We went back to one of our favourite restaurant Lucy’s where for 30 Yuan you got a set breakfast of eggs(any way you want), toast, fresh Yunnan Coffee, fresh squeezed juice and a banana pancake with real maple syrup – almost too much to finish. After that we headed out-of-town on our scooter to the Moon Water Cave some 10 kms outside the town.

NB: If you go, buy your tickets from your hostel or a travel agent for 80-90Yuan otherwise at the ticket office by the cave they try to sell the same tickets for 320 Yuan.

I was more enthusiastic in my approach to the mud bath

suffice to say I was still cleaning mud out of my ears 3 days later

The cave itself was quite rustic, not very well-lit ( a rather nice change from the tawdry lighting of other caves) but the mud bath was a unique experience. Cold at first you soon got used to it and if you laid down in the pool you actually floated which was weird feeling. After that it was down a passage to a clean river flowing through the cave to wash the mud off. This was also cold but invigorating at the same time. Then on the way out of the cave there is a series of natural hot springs that were great to just lie down in and enjoy. and then it was a short boat ride back out of the cave to the pool at the entrance where you were free to swim and dive into from a platform which I did and got this cool photos to match what you see on the cave brochure.

diving into the pool at the entrance to the Moon Water Cave

I'll admit, not the best form.

Moon Hill which we didn't climb but got this HDR photo from the cave ticket office

The cave is nothing spectacular but well worth it for the experience of the mud bath and hot spring. It took longer than expected so we headed back into town for a late lunch but stopped along the way to get a picture of these rice paddies.

Rice paddy and karst peaks HDR

just to show you how many cyclists and bikes were on the roads

We wanted to try find a nice spot for sunset across the river looking back at all the peaks that surround Yangshuo itself and after some off-roading on the scooter, which thankfully held up we ended up next to the river where we went horse riding and after buying some cold drinks from a nearby restaurant nestled amongst the bamboo we sat back to enjoy the sunset.

sunset over Yangshuo from across the Li River HDR

me trying to get the best sunset photo

After sunset it was back into town for dinner and to return the scooter. Along the was we walked along West Street which is the big tourist attraction of Yangshuo. It’s actually just a pedestrian street with little souvenir and curio shops all along it and at night every other entrance is a nightclub. Interesting to walk along but crowded and unless you are looking for curios or a bargain not much fun. Parallel to it though was a street we refered to as the eating street as it had a lot of our favourite restaurants/cafes with extensive Chinese and Western menus.

had to take a photo of this three-wheeled car we saw in the village across the river

The crowds along the famous West Street in Yangshuo

Night view of our restaurant street HDR

Having handed back the scooter we walked off our dinner on the way back to the hostel but stopped at a Cafe called Nature’s Cup along the river for a night-cap. The owner was there and after hearing him speak I had a suspicion that he was from South Africa and indeed he was. We talked some more only discover that he came from the neighbourhood next to mine in Cape Town. And as if the world isn’t small enough his name was Rory. He had some interesting insights on living and particularly running a business in China but he also makes a delicious Malibu Dom Pedro, probably the only Don Pedro you will find in China. They were so good we would end up going again the following night.

Read Full Post »

These photos are all the end result of combining several photos together. I am not going to show you the before photos and if you want to know more about process you can look at my earlier post on HDRI. Still new to this type of photography I made some mistakes but here are a few of the ones that I thought came out pretty well and I hade fun creating. Enjoy!

NB Click on the images to enlarge

Sunset and vapour trail over Guilin HDR

Guilin & Solitary Beauty Peak viewed from Fubo Hill HDR

The Li River at the exit of the Crown Cave HDR

Elephant Trunk Hill landmark in Guilin HDR

Looking through the Elephant Trunk up the Li River HDR

Margaurita & I at dusk in front of Elephant Trunk Hill

Sunset behind the Sun & Moon Pagodas HDR

Margaurita & I at sunset on the roof of Ming Palace Hostel HDR

OK, the last one is a bit over-processed. I discovered that taking HDR images with people is difficult but I’m having lots of fun experimenting with this process. Most of these were taken hand-held without a tripod and I’m still learning how to tweak the various settings. However these photos make the normal photos look so boring it makes me want to take HDR all the time and I hopefully my photos will improve even more as my technique improves.

 

Read Full Post »

After a decent breakfast in the hostel our tour guide arrived and spoke no English which didn’t bode well for the rest of the day, oh well. After stopping to collect a few other groups from different hotels we headed out first to an old village with some temple or other (they really don’t interest me), a street of curio sellers where I bought a painting of Guilin mostly because it was so cheap and some that was about it when we were herded back onto the bus.

Old lady selling salty hard-boiled eggs

Me not excited about another temple with souvenir shops in the background

An old street through a traditional village

Traditional Chinese buildings

As we were walking to the bus the tour guide came up and was asking us for money and we tried to explain we had already paid at the hostel. However it appeared she wanted 65 yuan more for the next part of the tour and she made out like it wasn’t optional and the others had already paid this. A little annoyed at we just shrugged our shoulders and said no to whatever the extra was for. She seemed frustrated but we just couldn’t communicate. We then stopped and everyone got off the bus the lady again came to us to try an explain, with no English, why we should pay the money. It would appear that the whole group couldn’t continue unless we paid and could all stay together. Then a Chinese girl nearby who spoke English helped translate for us and we established that the money was for an extra part of the tour and it would take 2.5 hours so it wouldn’t really work if we just wanted to wait for the group. Frustrated we paid the extra and hoped it was worthwhile and it was as you will see.

The entrance area to the Crown Cave, Guilin

Stands of curios as we enter the Crown Cave

This train ride was quite cool but went too fast to appreciate the cave

More tawdry lighting and curios deep in the Crown Cave

a nice boat ride on a river at the bottom of the Crown cave

Low ceilings and beautifully clear water in the depths of the cave

An underground waterfall (It cost an extra 5 Yuan to see this)

Mold growing on the limestone at the bottom of the cave - probably not helped by all the curio sellers and all day tawdry lighting

Exiting the Crown Cave by boat onto the Li River (this is what we had to pay the extra 65 Yuan for)

Worth it I think for this panorama from the dock

Despite the mold, tawdry lighting and endless curio sellers throughout the Crown Cave it was a worthwhile visit with lots interesting things between two boat rides, a train ride and a barge trip back to our bus. Next was lunch (not included in the tour price) at a farmers restaurant (really just meaning fresh produce) on the edge of a rice paddy and thankfully for us our Chinese was good enough to order some well-known dishes together with just pointing at some other tables dishes saying we wanted what they had. After lunch it was back onto the bus to travel to the Gudong Scenic Area, a National Park of China. Here there were a few more surprises like 5 Yuan for some bamboo sandals and a helmet to climb through a waterfall and optional zip-line and rollercoaster activities which was actually pretty fun.

The waterfall we climbed up in bamboo sandals

A cool suspension bridge after climbing up through the waterfalls

The optional (25 Yuan p/p) rickety but fun roller coaster we took down from the top of the mountain

Our bamboo raft guide back to the entrance of the Gudong Scenic Area

Although there were some extra costs that it would have been nice to know about before hand it was a fun afternoon and we were quite tired by the time we got back to the hostel, just in time to catch sunset on the roof before going down for the buffet dinner special the hostel was putting on.

sunset from the roof top of the Ming Palace Youth Hostel

We met an Australian couple at the buffet function who gave us some great advice on what was worthwhile to see and what to skip. So the next day we decided we would do our own thing and avoid Chinese lead tours. Itinerary was Fubo Hill in the morning, Reed Flute Cave in the heat of the day and Tunnel Hill Park in the afternoon.

 

Read Full Post »

It was early as we started on the N1 highway out of Cape Town. Just the other side of the Huguenot Tunnel, which is nearly 4 kms long, we emerged to sunrise and a rather hazy morning however the Du Toitskloof mountains could still be seen towering above us on both sides.

On the N1 highway towards Worcester

Next up was breakfast on the side of the road near Barrydale with the backdrop of the famous Cape Fold Mountains (see photo below) that separate the temperate coastal region of the Garden Route from the (more…)

Read Full Post »

With the South Easter wind still howling it wasn’t really beach weather but the skies were clear and so we grabbed the cameras to head out on a tour of the Peninsula. Leaving from Llandudno, we were going to travel anti-clockwise and pick up lunch at either Cape Point or Simon’s Town before heading back around Table Mountain.

a map of the Cape Peninsula

Just over the hill was the village of Hout Bay and out the other side the road winds its way up to the start of the dramatic Chapman’s Peak Drive, arguably one of the most (more…)

Read Full Post »

First things first I wanted to get my camera to Orms, the place for all things photographic in Cape Town. Trying my camera one last time before heading into town I was amazed when I flicked the ON switch and the screen came to life asking me to set the date and time. After setting these I took a few photos, tried some of the other settings. Everything seemed fine, and relief washed over me feeling I had avoided a no doubt costly repair fee. I don’t know what the problem was or why it suddenly started working again. Maybe the dry air on the plane at 37000 feet, maybe it just needed to rest for 3 days either way it seems fine now.

Second on the list was contacting Qatar Airways to claim compensation for our luggage that they had lost but subsequently found and delivered to my parents at 11 o’clock one night while we were away in Victoria Falls. Lacking faith in online claim forms we decided to go to their offices and confront them face-to-face. Wanting to use the element of surprise we didn’t phone ahead and just arrived, tirade prepared, only to be told (more…)

Read Full Post »

So after just one day of my new contract at Yinhe school the Chinese National Day holiday began. It’s called National Day but by law most business close for 5 consecutive days, which when combined with weekends can add up to a decent break. Well our school was closing for 9 days – awesome – so Margaurita and I started planning where we should go. The holiday is great but, as anyone in China (a country of 1.3 Billion people) will tell you, travelling at this time should be avoided at all costs.

Thousands of passengers wait to get inside the Guangzhou Railway station in Guangzhou, in south China's Guangdong province. photo by Vincent Yu, AP

To avoid these crowds we were planning a flight to Hong Kong or even Singapore but my passport was in getting a new visa so that was out. Local seemed our only option and even then booking into hotels was going to be tricky because as a foreigner you have to always show your passport and visa but we were determined to get away. (more…)

Read Full Post »