Part 3 - Guangxi Province cont’d

Yangshuo is one of the most famous tourist cities in China, so we anticipated seeing many foreign faces (as I did at the tourist attractions in Thailand for example). That was surprisingly not the case, though the city was flooded with Chinese tourists. Thankfully we stayed at a hostel outside the city in a village called ShiBanQiao, which was more peaceful at night. 

After an afternoon and an overnight in Yangshuo we carried on to a smaller town called XingPing, farther north on the iconic Li River. There we had the chance to take a bamboo raft along the river, another one of the most scenic places I’ve ever been to. Karsts rise high up hundreds of meters from the otherwise flat ground all around the river, how fascinating this planet truly is. This karst scene along the river is quite famous in China: it is found on the back of the 20RMB note

We returned to Yangshuo the next day and took a cooking class. There we learned how to make several local dishes, and they came out surprisingly well considering how little cooking experience I have. My favorite dish featured lotus root, with bamboo shoots, peppers, and onions. Unsure of catfish’s kashrut status, we elected to use tofu for the beer fish dish. Served with carrots and tomatos and several other vegetables, it was a tasty alternative. I hope to learn how to cook more soon. 

The cooking class was more or less the end of our Guangxi adventure, last night I flew to Shenzhen, Guangdong province. Tomorrow I will leave Shenzhen for 3 days in Hong Kong!

Part 2 - Guangxi Province

Our first day in Guilin was my first taste of southern China: subtropical climate, different local dialects and a new southern cuisine. Two of the most well known local specialties are rice noodles and beer fish, I’ll get to that in the next post. 

After a day in Guilin recuperating from the Yellow Mountain, we headed out towards the Longji rice terraces - also known as the Dragon Backbone rice terraces. It took two busses to get to our first destination, a village called PingAn. This region is mostly populated by Zhuang people, one of China’s recognized ethnic minorities. The Zhuang women are famous for carrying on their centuries-old tradition of never cutting their hair. 

The next morning we got up around 5 and walked to the nearest viewpoint to watch the sunrise over the rice terraces. The sky was overcast, so we didn’t get the view we’d hoped for. The views, even without the sun, were still fascinating. 

On the way back we befriended a Chinese family also there traveling, and they invited us for tea and breakfast. Chinese breakfast (consisting of steamed buns, rice with egg, and a soupy rice dish with English translations varying from congee to gruel) was never really my scene, so after eating with them we went back to our hostel for a more familiar second breakfast.

The hike from PingAn village to ZhongLiu village took us about 3 hours. There we ate lunch with a local family and continued on past DaZhai village to TianTou Village, another 2 hours hike. The views there were fantastic. 

The next morning we left TianTouZhai and caught a bus down to Guilin. There we immediately got on another bus down to Yangshuo, about 1.5 hours south of Guilin. 

Li River, Yangshuo 

Longji Rice Terraces, Guangxi province

Final China Trip - Part 1

Our journey began on Tuesday afternoon with a train from Shanghai to the capital of neighboring Anhui province, Hefei. We decided to go to Hefei to meet my good friend Jenny and her family. They were gracious enough to send a driver to meet us at the train station who brought us to them. Her family’s company produces magnets and we met them for dinner in a dining area inside their factory complex. After a delicious meal (local vegetables, tea, fish, soup, etc) we were taken to our hotel across the street.

Wednesday morning we were taken on a fascinating tour of their factory and learned how magnets were made. Their finished product is sold to the likes of GE, Motorola, LG, and Apple. From the factory we said goodbye to our wonderful hosts and headed towards the Yellow Mountain with our driver/new friend Zhou Lin Feng. 

The Yellow Mountain isn’t just one mountain but is a mountain range in southern Anhui that is well known for being one of the most picturesque locations in all of China. Open rockface rises towards the sky with trees and shoots of bamboo scattered all around. People have been traveling there for thousands of years to catch a glimpse of its beauty. The peaks of the mountains are typically shrouded in a cloudy mist, making the whole scene even more surreal.

After riding a cable-car halfway up, the hike took about 6 hours to the summit. Perhaps the word hike is a bit of a stretch because the whole path is essentially a very long stairway, but we were pretty wiped by the time we arrived at our hotel atop the mountain. The views from the top were some of the best I’ve seen in my life!

Thursday we made our way down the mountain and drove 4 hours to the Hefei airport where we flew out of Anhui province to Guilin, in the north of Guangxi province (southern China). It is my first time in southern China, and Guilin city feels a lot like Thailand and Vietnam. We’ve left the city for the countryside today, but we’ll be in this region until Thursday. 

Yellow Mountain, Anhui Province

A pensive Buddha inside the Wild Goose Pagoda, Xian. 

They number into the thousands, and no two faces are alike - Terra Cotta Warriors, Xian. 

Inside the Forbidden City, Beijing. 

Tian An Men Square, Beijing.