I had wanted to take a long bike ride the four days we were in Xingping, and we finally got around to it on our last day. The obvious choice would have been to take a ride down the main path along the Li River out towards Huashan Mountain. For some reason heading east to the Dayuan drifting area, and away from our usual surroundings, seemed more attractive.
Unfortunately, we didn't ask our hostel for bikes until the night before, and they were out, so we were left with the 10 RMB bike rental by the bus station. That price is a little low to instill much confidence (15-20 is more usual) and in fact I noticed just a few feet out the door that the first bike I had rented had a broken brake. I went back in for another bike, and the next one had a tire which refused to be pumped with air. Bike number three seemed ride-able, but later in the day it became apparent that the brakes were moderately worn down. There would be no quick stops.
The route out to the Dayuan River is actually pretty simple, and not hard to stay on. You can just go away from town on the bus station street, and take a left onto the little bridge you will quickly encounter. From there on just make sure to follow the sign for Lotus Cave, rather than taking the other road option by the sign. Going down option two will take you to Guilin, which is probably further than you want to bike. Strangely, the first sign for Lotus Cave says “2 km” and then five or ten minutes down the road, the next sign for Lotus Cave also says “2 km”. My guess is that sign number one is correct.
I'm fond of passing through farm areas and villages, so the ride was pleasant for me, except at the end, where we ran into a crowded and trafficked drive around Dayuan Tourist Area. You probably do not want to go here, unless you plan on rafting. Otherwise, it's a quiet country ride: rice fields. Tiny villages. Townspeople leading oxen down the road. The watery fields on a sunny day are sparkling, and reflect the hills behind them. Violet, star-shaped flowers decorate the journey.
Surprisingly, we stumbled upon a miniature version of Moon Hill during our ride to Dayuan. Just past the entrance to Lotus Caves you are on a straightaway with a mountain in front of you. Keep cycling for perhaps five minutes until the road bends right. After you've gone right continue for a hundred yards or so, enough to get a wider view of the mountain, and then turn around. This is Little Moon.
A small half moon arch passes through a wide rock at the top of the hill, which is flanked on either side by higher peaks. Atop Little Moon are two thick stone antennas, the right one bending steeply inward. I doubt many people visit there, but if we hadn't been out of water on our way back we would have done the climb up. It is medium steep, but basically just a hill.
Continuing on to Dayuan, things get gradually more industrial. Various construction sites and piles of construction materials dot the road. By the time we were up by Dayuan Reservoir there was already more traffic, and this got clogged up by the tourist area. Again, it's not worth the trouble unless you plan on rafting.
I think the whole trip, with a few short stops, took us a little over two hours. Unfortunately, I forgot the simple, and very important principal, that sunscreen is not merely for the beach. Several hours on a flat, unshaded road in Guangxi, left me approaching a shade of purple.
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