Yangshuo is great for outdoor sports, and running is one of them. Except for the karst mountains the landscape is nearly flat, so you can do some great long distance runs here. Because the locals are used to foreigners this was the first time I did an outside run in China without hearing anyone scream “Laowai” (foreigner) at me. Quite nice for a change. But used to runners they are not yet here: this morning I was running along the Ju Long river, about 7 km outside Yangshuo, when a farmer on a motorbike passed me. He looked over his shoulder, and asked me whether my bike broke down. Why would you otherwise run? I told him I am just running for fun, something he did not understand, because he offered me a ride on the back of his motorbike back to town. I kindly refused.
But two days ago I actually did take a motorbike back to Yangshuo. I had been running for about 45 minutes, looking for a bridge over the river to get back to Yangshuo, but could not find one. I realized my plan to be back in the hotel after about one hour would not be possible, even if I would run back over the same path. Then I met some men playing cards on the river bank. I asked them if there was a taxi around, and then one of them offered me a ride back on his motorbike for 30 RMB. That was a bit steep, but after some negotiations we ended at 10 RMB. Still a bit high, but I realized my bargaining position was not optimal. A nice way to see the country side, by the way. But a bit cold right after running, and not having anything else to wear for the ride on the back of the bike.
If you are a long-distance runner and visit Yangshuo I have one run you should try. Start is in the center of town, on Xi Jie (West Street). At the end of Xi Jie go south (direction of Banyan Tree and Moon Hill). Continue the main road until you get to a bridge over the Ju Long river (about 6 km). Just before the bridge there is a dirt road on the right side. Take this road, it follows the river and has great views to the mountains on both sides. At a certain point the track hits a paved road (after about 6 km, at Jima village). Take a right here and run the approximately 3 km back to Yangshuo. Early in the morning is the best time for this run, because then it’s still quiet. Around 8:30 you will start to see more and more bike riders, especially on weekends when it almost gets crowded with bike riding tour groups. And if you are not a runner, just rent a bike and ride the route – that’s fun as well, and probably less tiring.