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We hadn’t originally planned anything for today, but the weather was supposed to turn for the worse later in the week, so Jessie proposed that we cycled today. It was beautiful sunshine and getting warm. We'd slept well and had a good breakfast and when Jessie arrived at 9am we were ready for day trip into the countryside. We rented bikes from the hotel and bought plenty of water to keep us going through the day - it was going to be hot!

It isn't absolutely necessary to have a guide to cycle in the countryside around Yangshou - but you end up taking lots of small paths, with great views of the countryside and country life that you wouldn’t have ever considered if you were on your own. We'd cycled part of the trip last time, but also took many paths through villages and farms that we hadn't taken last time. Again the scenery was magnificent - I'll let the pictures speak for themselves!

After a couple of hours mountain biking and on the odd occasion pushing the bikes through muddy patches - it had rained for a week prior to our arrival we arrived at a small village on the banks of the river which was the starting point for a bamboo rafting trip along the river. It took some time for us to get going, and Lene and Yanmei's "captain" was significantly quicker than Steven and Daji's so after 1,5 hours sailing they were way ahead. The trip was relaxing and scenery beautiful and Yanmei and Daji loved sailing over the rapids – even though we sat fast on a few occasions. Steven hadn't taken enough sun lotion and turned red fairly quickly - again, again!

We continued to cycle and enjoy the scenery, meeting other cyclists – mainly Chinese – every now and then. We lunched at a guest house owned by a Dutchman (called Outside Yangshou), before taking a couple more hours on our bikes. Unfortunately Yangshou is becoming too popular and is being taken over by tourism. A new five start hotel was being built along the river banks next to the spot where we’d started rafting on our previous visit. 18 months ago, it was only a dirt lot; now it was a concrete jungle run by the local government.

We were back at the hotel around 4:30pm – Daji and Yanmei had cycled all the way without any problems, never lagging behind – the only person lagging behind was Steven, taking pictures. After a short rest and shower we decided to eat at the hotel again, but eat outside – it was warmer, the service quicker and the food fine.

NEXT DAY (8th)