You wouldn’t know it by looking at this picture but Yangshuo is a bustling little town with lots of little cafés catering to tourists. I visited in 1995 and then again in 2002. I was struck by the changes. Here is what I wrote in my journal:
“Nov. 13, 2002. Yangshuo is the perfect cure to many long weeks on the road. I feel as though I could stay here forever. I am sure I’d grow tired of it eventually but for now it suits me just fine.
I have managed to fall into the community somewhat – the staff at the 7th Heaven Café have befriended me. It is a lively place with a fun staff and great food. There is a roaming population of foreign tour guides who make 7th Heaven home, plus the usual collection of travelers coming from/going to S.E. Asia.
So much has changed since I visited in ’95. There are many more cafes and the food is much better. There are far more elderly foreign tourists; mostly part of groups but some solo. The most telling change is the huge numbers of Chinese tourists. It is the growth of the Chinese economy and the leisure class that will have the biggest impact on life in Yangshuo. Already much of the town is scrambling to meet the demands of Chinese business interests. I cannot knock people here for chasing this money; it will mean a better life for many of them. It also means a different Yangshuo for everyone.”