Tuesday, October 16, 2012

the beautiful face of china

our china-savvy sources all unanimously concurred that guilin was one of the most beautiful places we would ever see in our lives. we planned on doing some hiking, some biking and other general high-adventuring while we took in the scenery, but i am sorry to report that several elements conspired against us.

one of them being that it rained for one-and-a-half of the two-and-a-half days that we were there. and the other being that, in the years since our china-savvy sources had been there, guilin has really built up into less of a sleepy adventure town, and more of a tacky tourist town. we couldn't find anywhere where there weren't hordes of other people, and it was in guilin where i confirmed my suspicion that chinese people will attempt to sell you anything, anywhere. even in the middle of a river as you float by on a bamboo raft.

but, all of that said, we did see some lovely things and have a lovely time. and our hotel boasted the world's tallest manmade waterfall, which was turned on every evening for about 15 minutes. so, there was that.

we explored reed flute caves.

and hiked to the top of folded brocade hill.

the big event was a cruise down the li river, during which we saw the karst topography that inspired the scene depicted on the back of the 20 yuan bill.

the cruise ended in a village called yangshuo, where we went on a bamboo raft ride and saw moon mountain and the big banyan tree, which is more than 4,000 years old. if you stand under the tree, you are guaranteed long life. if you walk around the tree, you are guaranteed a lot of money. and if you walk around the tree holding hands with the person you love, you are guaranteed your love will last for your entire long, rich life. we figured it didn't hurt to give it all a try.

the highlight of the whole day, though, was a big nighttime performance choreographed and directed by the same guy who directed the opening ceremonies for the beijing olympics. there were 600 performers on a stage basically built under the river. it was remarkable, and definitely one of our favorite things about our entire trip.

the show was so good, in fact, that we didn't even get mad when our driver got lost on the way home, turning an hour and a half drive into a nearly three hour drive. but i also don't think guilin is on our list of places we can't wait to get back to, either.

1 comment:

steve said...

Guilin is one of those places that makes you think "Hey - I could be a national geographic photographer!"

it is an amazingly beautiful place. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.