Fairyland

Meeting so many people in Hong Kong was a nice experience and I easily could have spent more days around there, but I was eager to explore the land of Dragons & Emperors. Travelling by yourself in China is quite challenging as there’s almost nobody that speaks English. Furthermore most of the signs are in Chinese. With help from my friends and a internet connection to search for info or to use my gps, I found my way quite easily through this fascinating country. For that purpose, I will give a little more practical info than usual in my Chinese journey blogs to help my fellow travellers with my experiences where I can.  I quickly found out that taking pictures of the food I liked, maps, things I wanted to see, useful signs like ‘subway’, ‘luggage room’, etc (when I saw them in Chinese & English) and so on, were a big help too.  Learning the basics of Chinese could have been, of course, another option.

Li river in Xingping

Li river in Xingping

I decided to start with the beautiful karst mountains in Yangshuo near Guilin. Guilin is located in the northeastern part of the Guangxi province and contains many districts such as Longshen, Yangshuo, Xing’An, Yongfu, … It’s famous for it’s fairyland landscapes & beautiful sceneries along the Lijiang river.  From Hong Kong you have several options for that purpose. I chose for the nighttrain to Guilin. You can choose for a hard sleeper (around 240CNY) or a soft sleeper (around 440CNY) It leaves in Shenzhen, China so from Hong Kong you have to take the train for about an hour to Shenzhen (32HK) You can buy the tickets for Guilin directly at the train station in Shenzhen but it’s mostly sold out if you wanna travel on the same day. Best is to book it in advance but if you buy it in an agency, they will add their commission obviously.

Once you pass the customs and leave the building, go straight & you will walk into a big plaza surrounded by shops & offices. The ‘long-distance’ train station is on your left after approx. 200m. Nobody speaks English here so for us as foreigner, it’s an adventure to find our way through. David, a local who works in the import/export of mobile devices and who could therefor speak English, saw that I was struggling to find my way around and spontaneaously helped me. When he saw that I had opted for a soft sleeper bed on the train (446CNY) he adviced le to cancel it and take the much cheaper night bus. Especially because I was travelling to Yangshuo. The nightbus was going there directly in 10h where the nighttrain was going to Guilin in 14h. I had then to take an extra bus to Yangshuo myself for an extra hour and a half (50CNY) I was not so excited about the idea of going with the nightbus but saving 5h30 of travelling & 166CNY made me change my mind. David was so kind to help me all the way, canceling the train ticket, buying a new bus ticket & giving me some local tips.

Yangshuo

Yangshuo

The busride was as expected a rollercoaster but I arrived safe & sound in Yangshuo 10h later. Friends had adviced me to stay in ‘Green Forest’ hostel and so I asked a tricycle driver to bring me there. Of course he came with the classical answer ‘Ooo sir, our hostel is fully booked. But I know another nice hostel very close’ Right… I insisted to go to Green Forest. He told me ‘Very far’ and threw a ridiculous fare at me! But we came to a compromise and he brought me to the Green Forest hostel, located in the center of Yangshuo, close to the Yulong river & West street.  Yangshuo is gifted by nature with more than 20000 karst hills & 17 rivers. The Yulong river also known as ‘Little Li’ river is surrounded by endless green rice fields and karst mountains.

Xingping

Xingping

After checking in, I couldn’t wait to do a cruise on the Li River (4h-120CNY) and discover it’s beauty.  A minibus picked me up at the hostel and drove me in 1h to Xingping where I took a small motorized bamboo raft to cruise the river up to Yang Di.  Drifting along the river gives you a sensation of sailing in a painting with surrealistic green peaks rising from the fields & verdant bamboo groves reflecting in the clear water.  A unique way to experience the poetic world of beautiful Guilin.  This is the most scenic part so don’t take an expensive cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo as it’s only here at the very end that you will be astonished by the beauty surrounding you.

On my second day, I decided to do a daytrip to the rice terraces of Longshen & Ping’An, 160km north of Yangshuo (160CNY) The bus picked me up at 7.30am and after a 3h drive I arrived at the county of Longshen. The Longshen county is situated in the northwest of Guilin nestling sheer mountains & rice terraces.  It counts 6 villages such as Ping’An. Longji, Jinjiang, …

Once arrived at the Longji scenic area, I needed to pay an extra 30CNY for the local bus to get around & 60CNY for the ‘Rad Yao’ show in the village of Huangluo Yao (Long Hair village). I would advice to skip that show as it is not that great.  The Longji scenic spot contains splendid rice fields landscapes with natural shapes, beautiful lines & colors.  The Longji terraces are made up of Ping’An Zhuang & Jinkeng Yao terraced fields.  For hundred of years the Zhuang & Yao people have been working very hard here to cultivate those terraces in every corner of the valley.  I visited the village of Ping’an and could see how the terraces had all kinds of shapes such as ‘towers’ & ‘snails’ and how their appearance changed with the seasons.  As it was summer, green seedlings were rolled like green waves…

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