Guilin China, a Tourist Haven and Heaven
The Ancient Wonders of China continue to unfold in Guilin China.Article and Pictures by M. Maxine George. Special Featured Pictures by Lenora Hayman.
Our time in Guilin, one of China’s foremost scenic vacation spots, was action packed. The Chinese have long recognized the value of Guilin for its picturesque scenery, most agreeable climate year round, with an abundance of interesting opportunities for spending your leisure time in pleasant and interesting surroundings. The Chinese themselves enjoyed vacationing there long before other people discovered the joys of visiting Guilin. I understand why Guilin is sometimes promoted as “The best under heaven.”
The Reed Flute Cave
After checking into the Lijiang Waterfall Hotel, we were taken to the Reed Flute Cave for a delightful tour of a very interesting place. It seems to be quite a popular site to visit, as we had to wait for a short while before our tour began. Once in the limestone cave we were all agog as we were surrounded by many formations of stalactites, those jagged tapering structures hanging from the roofs of the cave, and the stalagmites that were built up from the floor of the cave.
These weird jagged forms were said to have been caused by the build up of calcium salts created by water dripping over a long period of time. These unusual forms were artificially lit by various coloured lights, making breathtaking visions. The pathways were carefully laid out and walking was easy. Our progress was slow, as everyone stopped frequently to take in as much of this fascinating cave as possible and to try to take pictures. Everywhere I looked there was another awe inspiring sight. Amazing! Partway through the tour of this massive cave, we were treated to a short light and music show. The Reed Flute Cave really was a fascinating place to visit.
The 2016 China Asean Expo Tourism Exhibition
We were in Guilin to attend the 2016 China-Asean Expo Tourism Exhibition. This annual event has been held in various venues in other years, but this year the decision was made to make Guilin the permanent home of future exhibitions. The event set off with a Gala Dinner on the eve of the opening event. At the conclusion of the dinner we were rushed out again to our bus, not quite sure what was happening. Our bus was soon on the road in what appeared to be a parade of buses. All the intersections were blocked so that the buses had priority as they passed in close formation. Arriving at our destination, my friend Lenora and I were quickly led through crowds of people to a position where we were standing behind the huge boom that hoisted the large TV camera, swinging around to capture the show for a live broadcast. In moments I became aware that most of our companions were, not only uniformed police, but also a whole swat team all constantly alert for any signs of trouble.
A procession of dancers and entertainers began to take turns representing their countries with music and dance. Their colourful costumes dazzled onlookers, right before our eyes on the street and also echoed on the large screen above the street.
Each of the countries taking place in the Chinese – Asean event took turns with their own performance. All the time the swat team and other uniformed officers kept a constant watch on the crowd. Standing in the midst of those vigilant men made me feel both very wary and very well guarded. With the onset of global terrorism in the past few years, I realize the need for such vigilance.
Before long I realized that two of the men from our group were also keeping us under surveillance. Very reassuring, seeing that we were in a strange country and were unable to speak their language. At the conclusion of the event we were quickly escorted back to our hotel, before the crowd began to disperse.
The Two Rivers and Four Lakes Cruise
Another evening we went to a dock, just across from the Lijiang Waterfall Hotel, for an evening cruise known as The Two Rivers and Four Lakes Cruise. The comfortable cruise boat slowly took us through the flood lit, interconnected rivers and lakes of Guilin City. A well-lit pagoda was the first object to catch our attention. As the boat began to move, we realized there was another pagoda appearing from behind the first pagoda, both ablaze with lights, which reflected on the water. Bridges and buildings were all lit for the pleasure of the viewers. Again all the lights reflected on the water, turning our adventure into a scene from a fairy tale. Some buildings had dancers or actors doing short skits, behind large lit windows, for their sailing audience.
Partway through our tour, a smaller fishing boat came alongside us. It was a fisherman and his cormorant out for an evening’s fishing. Then as we watched, the bird dove into the water and came up with a fish in its mouth. The bird successively caught three more fish in the time we were slowly sailing past. Our evening cruising the two rivers and four lakes was a most enjoyable evening.
The Li River Cruise
A day long Li River Cruise was the highlight of our visit to Guilin. The trip began in Guilin and continued for about 80 km to Yangshuo. The river meanders and winds slowly through some of the world’s most beautiful scenery.
We enjoyed our boxed luncheon at the long tables in the covered deck, where large windows gave us a good view of the passing scenery. Fresh tea was served with lovely blue and white china.
Passengers were constantly drawn upstairs to the deck rail to watch and take pictures of the unique limestone mountainous formations. Those strange peaks and valleys were mostly all covered with greenery.
Beside us there were tranquil pastures where occasionally water buffalo grazed. Everything was peaceful. The sun was shining down on us, and no discernable breeze was present. Sailing was smooth. Our very delightful daytrip ended in Yangshuo, an ancient town further up the river.
Yangshuo was a fun place to visit. This was our first opportunity to explore a variety of local shops and stalls. We were told that we were to meet at the High street in time to go for dinner. We all scattered about looking into whatever attracted each of us. I was surprised when one on our group called to me that I was wanted in one of the shops. It seems that Lenora had found a kimono shop and that was the one thing I wanted to find in China. Yes, I bought my kimono that afternoon. I spent the rest of the afternoon just looking, knowing I had already found the very thing that I was hoping to find.
We had an interesting dinner that night. As usual a dozen or fourteen courses, with a variety of Chinese food were brought to our table. I was always thankful for my Chinese-Canadian companions, who could tell me what was being served, so I could make my choices. At each meal I attempted to master the chopsticks. (Mind you I was often offered a knife and fork if I wanted one.) The sun was just setting as we sat down at the restaurant. One of our men went outside onto the balcony and got an absolutely wonderful picture of the mountains, water and shadows at dusk. Sorry mine was taken a bit earlier, but it does show the beauty of the view.
The Impression Sanjie Liu Show
One last evening event was particularly noteworthy. It was an evening show that took place on the Li river. This show played to a packed audience seated outdoors on benches, on the beach, facing the water. The Impression Sanjie Liu Show was a well choreographed performance set in the water, taking advantage of the spectacular backdrop of the mountainous scenery surrounding Guilin. The show presented the customs and life of the people living in the area in a most colourful and spectacular way. Quite an amazing and imaginative show. Not surprisingly, they say the show is sold out at every performance.
The following day, after lunch, we again boarded a Xiamen Air domestic flight to begin our journey home. We landed in Xiamen with enough time to have dinner before catching our Xiamen Air international flight home that evening. Again I appreciated a business class seat with the opportunity to sleep in the very comfortable seats that opened out to full length beds. I arrived home refreshed from an extremely interesting visit to the ancient Orient – China, on the Maritime Silk Road.
Article and Pictures by M. Maxine George. Special Featured Pictures by Lenora Hayman.
Last Updated February 6, 2021 by Matthew George – Webmaster