Yangshuo: Cormorant fishing spectacle

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If you google ‘Guilin’, every other photo you see will probably have a cormorant fisherman in it, including the trademark straw hat. This was one thing I definitely wanted to do and I jumped at the chance when I found out my guesthouse organised nearby evening cormorant fishing experiences.

Cormorant fishing is an ancient method of fishing using a trained long-beaked bird (a cormorant) to catch the fish for them. Unfortunately with modern fishing methods being far more efficient, many cormorant fishermen struggle to make a living from just the fish themselves. By showing their craft to tourists they can make some extra money.

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We met our mini bus in the middle of town and I would say where they drove us but all I know is it was somewhere along the Li river. I’m sure the numerous different fishing experiences offer you a similar thing throughout Guilin. I think the one I went to was 40RMB, including transportation.

Once we reached our location (the journey to which was like part of a horror film, being driven in pitch black to the middle of nowhere and told to get out by a secluded river’s edge!) we were told to get into a wooden boat lined with benches. Already on the river was the fisherman at work.

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For around half an hour the man fished and our boat sailed alongside him, alternating sides so everyone on the boat had an opportunity to take closeup photos.

Once we were back at shore the fisherman gestured we could take turn having photos with the bird (and his hat!) which was fun. Our translator/guide gave the fisherman some cash for the extra trouble, although I hope that wasn’t all he got that night. (I wish I had checked now. Always good to know these locals get a fair share of money for their trouble).

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All round, a great experience but I wish it had gone on for a bit longer. I also would have liked to have seen a sunset or daytime demonstration but I suppose there are other places/people that offer those alternatives so a good idea to check your options. I also wish I’d brought bug spray!! Sounds obvious but late at night and by open water you’re going to be a meal on wheels.

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