Driftage: Crazy fun in Yangshuo China
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Driftage: Crazy fun in Yangshuo China.

Now Bob and I are both big blokes so when the Chinese instructor saw us pick up one of the small self-bailing rafts rather than the bigger standard ones he screamed and shouted. We'd both done a bit of rafting back home before and knew better so we just looked dumb and did as we pleased.

It wasn't as if things were that well organized. The kit (jackets, helmets and knee/elbow protectors) were all hung up but with all the sizes mixed and much of it in desperate need of repair. Some should have just been binned. The staff stood by whilst the scramble took place and there was no briefing or demonstration, not that we would have understood very much anyway.

So, with bits of orange strapped around us and faded-red lids, we set off with the hundred or so Chinese tourists (mostly students by the look of it) and entered the water. The route is a now-unused hydro-electric ditch. As we had approached on the bus we could see this was empty but by now water from the reservoir had been released and a good current was beginning to flow.

The start is a narrow concrete slide so just one raft at a time. I felt brave and took the front seat, therefore facing backwards. Of course, we had no paddles, and that's the big difference between this sport and true white-water rafting. The hazards might not be class 5 but the total lack of control just makes this a scream.

There are three big drops en-route. By big I mean 7 to 11 metre drops, and nearly vertical at that. The anticipation for the first drop was awesome. Bob landing on top of me as we hit the water wasn't so great but we laughed like crazy things this was exactly what we'd come for.

Our choice of raft was superb. Those in the standard rafts were bailing like crazy with the only tool suitable for the job their helmets. Once off these were also used for paddling in slack water. We saw a few minor accidents the worst was one girl with a split lip. Heck it wouldn't be fun without a little bit of risk.
All were having fun and all seemed to make it down to the bottom. I don't suppose anyone did a head count so we'll never know. My wife would have probably noticed me not coming back after a few days, so no worries.

There are basic showers and toilets, so you can freshen up before heading home. Lockers for your valuables and spare clothes cost 10 Yuan.

There are people taking photos of the action at the major points along the way and these will offer you prints at not unreasonable prices to help you remember your day of fun.

That's the event now some info for those who are interested.

This Driftage was at the venue near Xingping, a small town to the north-east of Yangshuo (travel details to there in a minute). It takes a bit more than an hour for the bus ride each way, and about an hour for the Driftage session. Add two hours for the kitting up and messing around at either end. There's another venue out from Putao (north of Yangshuo) which we did later but we found that well organized and tame by comparison. If you want adventure then it
has to be Xingping. You can book either with any travel agent in town. Current cost 150 Yuan per person including transport.

Yangshuo is a famous tourist destination in south China's Guangxi Province. It lies about 70km south of the city of Guilin, which has an airport (code: KWL) and bus/train stations with good connections to most major cities. The whole area is speckled with incredible mountains, and Yangshuo has become a major outdoor activities hub. There's fantastic rock-climbing, mountain biking and hot-air ballooning just to mention a few of the more popular options. Alf Exposito

Alf is an Aussie of Spanish descent living in Yangshuo. He and his wife own Yangshuo's Buffalo Bar and Li River Retreat, a spectacular location on the river just north of town" .

Alf edits the website "http://www.yangers.com" which covers sites, hotels, weather, tours and much more. You can find out about the places mentioned here and lots of other things to see and do in Yangshuo.

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