Considering we like caves, and we were in Yanghsuo, and there was a particularly nice cave there — we decided to go Chinese Caving. Or Spelunking (which, according to the dictionary, just means “the exploration of caves”).
This is the Dragon Assembly cave.
We walked across a zig-zag bridge (to keep the evil spirits away–naturally), and down into the cave. The change in temperature was amazing. After melting in the sun all morning, descending into coolness was the best part of going to the cave.
We took a boat with the Chinese tour ahead of us, sailing through a still, green lake in the cave to the other side. Once out, the Chinese tour (with their tour guide shouting into a microphone) zoomed ahead of us. In China there are schedules. You don’t just stop and smell the roses — or linger on the rocks as the case may be. At least two more Chinese tours passed us before we finished looking through the cave.
Caves in China are different.
For one, we let them look natural. We fine people for touching the limestone and leaving fingerprints. We fine them for taking “souvenirs” of stalactites or stalagmites. Basically, we fine people for doing anything but looking.
In China, they put lights everywhere. Forget your torch. Not one part of the cave we walked through had been left looking “natural”. After all, natural is really rather boring. Why not have flashing lights of all different colours?
Yes, it was a dazzling experience.
And of course, you can’t go anywhere in China without being sold something. There were markets in the caves.
My little camera struggled with the dark cave, but you can still see the market stalls. With a few extra floodlights, it’s as good as being in the middle of a busy street in Yangshuo. Just a little more expensive.
So, if you happen to go caving in China, don’t worry about a torch. Just take your sunglasses.