Cruising China's Li River

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Bamboo rafts, some carrying fishermen and their cormorants, others piled high with fruits and vegetables or fitted with seats for passengers, are the prime movers of Li River commerce. Their design was perfected centuries ago and has not changed for generations. Most of the people who live along the river and farm the tiny tracts of fertile land scattered among the limestone hills ignore the tourist boats and go about their tasks just as their ancestors did before them. Water buffalo are still used to till the land, kids with dip-nets strain shrimp from the river, a cormorant fisherman calls to his birds, and men and women standing waist deep in water harvest reeds from the shoals. Against the surreal backdrop of karst mountains the Li River and its people seem to be caught in a time-warp where nothing has changed for hundreds of years.

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