Posted: Tue 01 Feb 2011
Adelaide-based travel writer Carolyne Jasinski, ventures by raft through the beautiful Wuyishan region of China . . .
Ahh . . . here we are drifting down the river on a bamboo raft. Sounds positively tranquil, and the perfect antidote to an action, and, people-packed Chinese holiday.
This is our chance to unwind and really soak in the surroundings.
Rafting on the Wuyi - Waiting for the rapids.
We have improved our odds for relaxation, swapping the 22 million people in Shanghai for just 22,000 in Wuyishan (not including tourists).
But this is China and our peaceful raft ride holds a few surprises.
The first is the line-up. Here is the pristine countryside, is the Chinese version of a Disneyland ride complete with queuing crowds. Lined up along the banks are at least 50 rafts…the rest are hidden by the curve of the river.
The Wuyi Mountains - A stunning landscape.
Ever had that sinking feeling? It’s started already.
We should have got a hint of things to come when they scaled us up for size as we got on the raft. They have to get the weight ratios right or our rickety craft will tip over.
We are struggling to keep afloat. And our raft drivers are struggling to push us along and keep a straight face. It doesn’t help when other rafts pass us – the occupants all enjoying the joke that obviously involves us fatties.
Rapids provide welcome relief for our hard-working pole drivers. But more angst awaits for us. With the water rising above ankle level, we are ready to be completely swamped. Not that we would drown – the water is mostly under a metre deep. And with hundreds of rafts following, we would be sure of rescue.
There are nine bends in the river and nine sets of mini-rapids to negotiate. Nine more chances of sinking.
The Expert Guides - navigating the tricky path
Our guides try to point out sights along the way. We miss out on the correct geographical terms but our explanation is much more fun. They use charades to try and tell us what we are looking at. The funniest is an imitation of a curvy Madonna which we later discover are the Two-Breast Boulders.
We seem to take a different path from the Chinese tourists – perhaps it’s the path of least resistance. We manage to negotiate the nine bends in the river – and the accompanying nine rapids – without sinking completely.
Our rafting adventure is not what we expected, but we did get to soak in the surroundings.
And it was a lot of fun.