Part Two – Guìlín, Yángshuò and the Lóngjî Rice Terraces

June 29, 2017 at 9:11 pm (China, Travel) (, , , , , , )

Day Six

Today was simply a transit day. We ate like kings at our buffet breakfast (five star hotel remember?) and then flew to Guìlín where we were greeted with more torrential rain. Mum had some issues with her baggage as she had forgotten about some electricals. Otherwise the day was pretty uneventful the highlight being finding delicious  noodles for 4RMB (0.52€ $0.77AUD).

Day Seven

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Since neither of us are particularly fond of cruises, we were pleasantly surprised with our trip down the Lí river. We spent the whole trip up on the top deck marveling at the amazing limestone structures that make this area’s landscape quite spectacular. Earlier this year I saw the same limestone structures rising from the sea at Halong Bay in Vietnam, so it was of particular interest for me to see them now on land.

It’s hard to explain how beautiful yet eerie they are. A combination of rock, moss and greenery, they look as if a child has drawn a crooked outline for their formation. We were truly mesmerized.

IMG_1956In the afternoon the magic continued with a leisurely bike ride along Dragon River. Here we marveled once again and enjoyed the tranquility of nature without the hoards of tourists.

Day Eight

For our free day in Yángshuò we decided to hire bikes again. We found a suggested route (The Yong Valley Countryside Route) and off we went. Surprisingly, we managed to follow the instructions well and had a lovely trip off the beaten path. The route took us on country roads and through minority villages with not another tourist in sight. Neither of us took many photos as we were enjoying the ride so much!

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Most of the afternoon was spent playing cribbage in a bar/coffee shop while we waited for our transfer back to Guìlín.

Day Nine

IMG_4798A night at the Lóngjî Rice Terraces was on the cards. Hand dug over five hundred years ago, the paddy fields first became known to the public eye after Li Yashi photographed them in the 1990s. You can certainly see why they have captured tourists eyes ever since.

The views of the cascading rice fields are breathtaking even amongst the rain and mist. They seem to swirl in jigsaw like pieces or like children’s building blocks piled up on top of each other.
IMG_4813The fields don’t even yield enough rice for the surrounding villages and are basically maintained to feed the tourist industry. But one does wonder about the heartache that went into not only building them, but cultivating them by hand year after year. It truly is an amazing landscape.

We were lucky to see the terraces without the rain that seems to be our constant friend on this trip. We visited the ‘Seven Stars with the Moon’ as well as the ‘Nine  Dragons and Five Tigers.’ By the time we walked down, the train had settled in for the day so we spent our afternoon in a cosy postcard shop. After a year in China, I finally managed to write some postcards!

Day Ten

IMG_2052It rained all night and all morning so further exploration off the rice terraces were quite off the cards. Instead we played cribbage and drank tea on the hotel’s balcony. We couldn’t complain about the view and the time before heading back to Guìlín passed quickly.

Back in Guìlín we walked around the university area, succumbed to buying umbrellas and braved the torrential rain for a walk around Shan Lake.

Day Eleven

IMG_4829After a lazy morning, we braved the rain and visited the Sun and Moon Pagodas in Shan Lake. These two pagodas are connected via an underground tunnel that goes beneath the lake. Both structures are octagonal and the Sun Pagoda even has a lift. Apparently it is one of very few that do in China.

We had dumplings in a tiny family owned snack bar. We communicated via hand and foot, and were rewarded with a delicious meal. It was a real Chinese moment, away from the bustle of the city, homemade and served by two smiling faces.

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In the evening we went and saw the two pagodas lit up. We ate a Chinese egg waffle dessert and walked around the Guìlín lakes.

Day Twelve

Our last day in Guìlín and with our guide was a little underwhelming to be honest. First we visited Elephant Trunk Hill, which is supposed to be the symbol of Guìlín. The scenic area was unfortunately not very interesting or pretty, but it was pouring with rain and flooded so perhaps that clouded my judgement.

The next stop was Reed Flute Cave. Neither mum or I are huge cave fans so we weren’t really expecting much. The cave has some interesting formations and in true Chinese style was lit up like a Christmas tree. We found out afterwards that this cave was a ‘foreigners’ cave because the Chinese tourists generally go to a different one. Doesn’t really make  you feel that you’re seeing the best the area has to offer.

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A bullet train then took us to Kunming, our next destination. We spent eight hours on the train and were on the train for the entirety of its trip. The highlight for mum was tracking the route on the maps in my Lonely Planet book and keeping an eye on the speed, which capped at 208km/h. On a side note, we have decided the Chinese Lonely Planet is fairly useless and needs updating desperately.

xoxo

P.s More photos?

 

 

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