Archive for August 2011
If you are not bored with the pictures on the previous post for our Li River Cruise, feel free to continue looking some more…
Hubby was posing with the 20 Yuan, where the picture printed on the back of the currency was based on the view of these particular hills on the Li River.
More scenery pictures…
Here, Hubby saw these people washing the dishes from lunch using the river water. We were lucky that we did not get sick from the food. Most of the Columbian tourists brought sandwiches or fruits with them. We weren’t aware of how bad the food was on these boats, so we did not prepare anything. Otherwise, we would have packed sandwiches or snacks as well. So if you are going to take one of these river cruises, be prepared.
As you can see from the pictures below, starting at this point and Yangshuo, the scenery was not as pretty as the previous parts of the river. There were a few clouds hovering on top of us, and we got a few drops of rain here and there.
The mama water buffalo was herding its baby to walk through the water toward the other side of patches of land.
These are cormorant birds. As we landed in Yangshuo, we saw several fishermen having two birds with them, and they charged 5 Yuan to take the bird’s picture. You can also pose with the birds if you want to.
Then we started seeing flocks of ducks everywhere. I guess we must be near the fishing village here.
Finally, we approached Yangshuo area.
Right before we started heading toward the wharf, we saw this horse on a patch of land near the bank of the river. He was walking around by himself and oblivious to the amount of traffic on the river.
I also saw this man, and was wondering what he was doing. So I pointed my camera to him and start snapping pictures. Can you guess what he was doing?
So that my friends, the end of our journey at the Li River. Have I bored you to death yet?
On our third day in Guilin, the next thing on our itinerary was the Li River Cruise. It was supposed to be a four hour cruise and that we were going to have lunch on the boat. So after breakfast, we were picked up by Crystal at the hotel and we headed to the Zhujiang Pier. The plan was for us to do the river cruise which ends in Yangshuo. There, the driver would pick us up and take us back to the hotel. The distance between Guilin and Yangshuo is about 52 miles, and according to China Highlights website, the river scenic veiws between Guilin and Yangshuo are the prettiest one.
By the time we got to the Pier, we could see many boats were anchored by the wharfs. We saw a lot of tourists waiting for their turn to go aboard, or waiting for their boats to arrive. The day we were to cruise the river was a national holiday in China, starting a three-day weekend, and so there were many local tourists as well as the foreign tourists.
Crystal took us toward a boat that was anchored by the wharf and we had to bypass a lot of tourists who were standing in line. We said a lot of “excuse us”, since they were blocking the gangway to our boat. Once we were inside the boat, we passed the first level of the boat and headed immediately to the second level. There was no one there at the boat at the time other than the boat crew. The second level consisted of 5 long tables, where each table could accommodate 8 people. So we plopped our bag and stuff on the table closest to the door to the deck.
Toward the back of the second level, a long buffet table was already set up with the metal serving pans for lunch. There were brochures laying on the tables, as well as tea pots and cups. The brochure contains a map of the river and the highlights the scenery along the river.
So of course while we were waiting for the boat to take off, we took this opportunity to take a snap a few pictures.
Then, slowly, there were other tourists coming onto the boat. The couple who sat down near us were originally come from Argentina but now resided in Mexico. Then, other tourists came in and filled up the boat. Most of the tourists were from Columbia and we were just surprised about that. We usually encounter European or Australian tourists, but never encounter a group from South America. And now, we had. The first level of the boat was full of the local tourists, most of which moved up to the rooftop observation deck for the duration of the cruise.
Finally we left the wharf and slowly heading south toward Yangshuo.
Once we left the wharf, we really started to see beautiful scenery. The hills along the river are those of karst or what we mostly know as limestone. The various shapes of these hills are what make the Li River famous for its scenery. The scenery truly left you wondering about human existence. I for one was in awe of the view.
Along the river, we encountered a lot of fishermen. This fisherman saw our boat and he frantically steered his bamboo raft away from our boat. I was afraid that he would get run over, but he survived.
I’ll stop my caterwauling here and let you see the pictures of Li River. 🙂
I think this cave is called Beauty of Crown Cave.
More pictures along the Li River.
This hill is called the Painted Hill of Nine Horses. Can you locate the horses? I cannot locate all nine, but I can see several of them.
And a dragon fly landed on me. It was a very pretty dragon fly. So, I must be lucky!!
[Disclaimer: The pendulum swings almost at its maximum distance… it swung about 180 degrees. That means, my friends, this post has only one picture. It wasn’t the photographer’s fault though, it was due to the circumstances. Bring your pillow and blanket, get ready to fall asleep anytime…]
After hiking the mountain, we went back to the hotel to rest a bit. You know, we are both grandparents. As a rule, grandparents need a nap after vigorous activity. I would consider going up and down the mountain as vigorous activity. If I sweat just a little bit, that, in my dictionary, is vigorous activity. So we were content when Crystal mentioned that she was going to drop us off back to the hotel.
On the way back, since we did not have any more scheduled activities on our itinerary, Crystal asked us if we would like to see a performance of ballet or acrobats of some sort? We nodded our head (yes, we were that exhausted… we couldn’t even talk… ha ha). So Crystal picked up her cell phone and started dialing. Then she turned around from her seat and asked us, which seat do you prefer? Not so good, good, or very good seat? Hubby contemplated and said let’s choose the middle one, so the good one. Then she went back to her phone, and later told us the ticket would cost us 200 Yuan each.
So we went back to the hotel, rested, had dinner and were ready to be picked up by Crystal by 7:30 PM. At the beginning I wasn’t sure, because we are early birds. We go to bed when chickens go to bed. So having to come out of the hotel at 7:30 at night means we won’t be in bed by 9. But I didn’t fret. Surely if the performance was boring, we were allowed to take naps. After all, we are grandparents right?
We drove through Guilin at night, and it only took us about 10 – 15 minutes to get to the theater. When I got out of the car, the first thing I saw was many large tourist buses. And I was thinking, oh great, it is going to be very crowded. We walked through the parking lot, and there were several steps leading up to the front door of the theater. Like any other theater, this building has a sign indicating its name on the top of the building, with colorful lights. And no, at the time I didn’t think of taking a picture of the sign.
As we waited for Crystal to get our tickets, we stood by the front door, while other tourists were walking by. There were two female in white shirts with red vests guarding the door. Meanwhile, down in the parking lot, more buses were coming and tourists were spewing out of the busses.
Finally Crystal got our tickets, and she led us inside the theater. There were seats lined up neatly, row after row after row, with the floor of the theater sloped at an angle, where the front row seats at the lowest level. Then, in the front of the theater, there was a stage, along with curtains. There were three blocks of the seats, where the middle block contained the twice the amount of seats compared to the outer blocks. The block itself was split into two. The first group was the one closest to the stage, while the second group was separated with a walkway about a meter and half between the first group. There was also seating in the balcony above. And where we were seated? The front row of the second group! We were really lucky! So apparently, good seats mean you have plenty of leg room in front of you. 🙂
While we waited, attendants were helping people find their seats. Tourists started to fill in all of the seats; the hum of conversation floated in the air. You could hear all kinds of language around you. Chinese, Cantonese, even Indonesian! One young girl, [probably early 20s] sat beside me, and boy, she just would not sit still!! She kept bouncing on her seat and kept moving around. Grrr….. Oh… I have gotten grouchy in my old age! The seats behind us started filling up too. People were talking everywhere, until there was an announcement that no flash photography or video graphing allowed. What a bummer!! But, I understood that the performers needed to be able to concentrate, as well as not disturbing the other theater goers. Imagine flash popping out everywhere in that big theater. That would not be enjoyable. So I just tucked my camera away and pouted. Ha … Just kidding.
The lights were turned off, and the projector behind us started working. The screen in front of us started filling itself with scroll of texts of story line and thanks to Cindy, I remember again most of the performance details. You know, you remember you have seen something, but if someone asked you about it, you couldn’t really describe it. Cindy pretty much described all of the performance and helped me remember a lot of things.
Some of the performance highlights to me were ten boys performance with hats. They juggled with several hats, and in the last portion of their performance, one boy was juggling ten hats. He threw ten hats into the air in front of him one by one, while running, and as the first hat descending, he caught it, threw it again to the air, and did the same with the second and next hats. He ended up running in a circle at the stage, and these ten hats flying in front of him. It was really neat and I thought juggling three balls was hard!!
I liked the one with a girl hanging from the ceiling with a long, pastel cloth, where there was a young man holding both ends of the cloth. Then he swung the cloth, which made the girl flying on top of the stage. It was such a pretty performance.
There was a girl climbing up wooden chairs stacked on top of each other, where she stacked the chairs herself, as she climbed up. Then, after she put up about 6 or 8 chairs, she was balancing with her two hands or just one hand, on the top of this wobbly looking structure. Then, she tossed one chair to the side, and landed to the next chair with her two hands, and repeated the motion until she came back down to the stage. I was afraid for her, although I am sure she knew what she was doing. There was a rope from the ceiling that she pulled and hooked onto her back as she stacked up all of the chairs, but to me, it was only holding her costume. It wasn’t like she was wearing a belt that for sure would hold her up if a mishap happened.
One of the performances involved two persons holding a piece of big, long and transparent cloth, enough to cover the middle block seats. They stood at the walkway separating the block, and then ran back toward the exit door in the back, so all of the audiences were covered by this cloth, while they danced and the music was still going on. The effect was somewhat transporting us, or me at least, to a different world where everything was musical, people dancing and happy. Then two persons who held the cloth dropped their hold, so the audiences had to use their hands to lift up the cloth. As a result, you see the waves of the cloth in the theater. It was neat. 🙂
Then there was a group of young men performing acrobatics involving several metal rings. Each metal ring consisted of two rings, one was smaller than the other one, and the two rings were connected by four or five metal bars. The rings were large enough for a man (small man) to hold the inner ring with both arms and legs spread out. They went round around the stage with the rings, sometimes several people were in and out of the ring, and sometimes it was hold just by one person, with the ring itself rolling on the stage. This was where I saw they made an error, or at least, the apparatus they used broke. I saw one of the inner or outer rings come apart, but the performer made it up by holding it up with his hand and kept on rolling. So that makes me wonders if they were not a metal ring, but made by other material.
The other performance was two little girls, very tiny little girls doing contortions on top of a giant vase. Also, one of them was holding candles with both of her feet, hands, forehead, as well as her mouth. I was just amazed how limber they were!
It was a beautiful performance, and I really enjoyed it. There were also laser light shows during the whole performance. Although I have never seen a Cirque de Soleil show, this performance reminds me of CDS. It was worth the money and time to watch this show, I might add. I might even watch it again, if circumstance permits. The only downside that I experienced was the other tourists, who insisted of taking pictures with flashes, which was very disturbing. Also, people who insisted to talk, and very oblivious that the others would want to see the performance and not want to hear them talk!
At the end of, when all was said and done, the audience walked toward the exit door, and there it was. The whole ensemble was standing up in the front lobby, ready to take pictures with the audience. They were still in their last costume, bathed in bright hall lights. Silly us, we were in a hurry, trying to get out and did not take any pictures. Grr… that’s why I want to go back and watch them again. One of the sites I found online, I don’t know if I can find it again, mentioned that each of the performers was holding a CD or DVD of the performance. That the CD/DVD is available for sale. I’m not sure if that is true or not.
This gig was produced by China Heaven Creation. Apparently, CHC also produces other shows! So, I can imagine they would incorporate other shows with other tourist places in China. I guess we will do more research if and when we go back to China again.
Lastly, during my research, I found there are other tourists who have seen this show, and somehow they have pictures as well. There is this mR.Son.Photostream that uploaded his/her pictures into flickr; the pictures look professionally taken. One photo by kk_wpg and the rest of them were blog posts by Marathon Man, Wong Chun Xing, M-Knight, and tepikampung. I also found a couple of video clips here and here.
So enjoy! If you stop by Guilin, be sure to watch this show if you have the time. Until my next post, Li River cruise!
[Disclaimer: So you are back? This post contains boo coos of pictures. Mostly unedited, since I don’t have a good photo editing software, and I am lazy. So, you have been warned, good luck reading!]
The rice fields in this part of China were supposedly designed starting from the Yuan dynasty, and continued to be improved with the Ming dynasty, and finished with the Qing dynasty. I said supposedly since I cannot find anything concrete about these, without spending hours or days of research with the history of terraced rice fields. If you are interested to read about a sliver of information about the terrace rice fields, please click here.
The rice field in Ping’An is called Longji Terraced Rice Field because the view of the terraced rice fields resembled dragon scales. I also heard of the “Seven stars accompanying moon” in this Longji Terrace. I could definitely see the stars, but I am still wondering which part of the scenery is the moon… Okay, I will stop my squawking here and continue on with the story of our journey.
This was the view we saw when we first got up to the viewing point #2. We were lucky that we got to see anything at all. See the clouds just hovering on top of the mountain? At this time, the rain turned to drizzle, so we pulled out the camera and put the hood on it.
We spent some time up here to enjoy the view, as well as catching our breath, and I kept taking pictures. See, I could multitask. 🙂
We took a couple of pictures together with Crystal. You know, you have to do the touristy thingy.
After fifteen minutes of staring at these wonders, we started heading down. About that time, our bellies started to rumble. Going down was easier than going up, although we still had to watch our step. Since I had the camera in my hand, I snapped pictures while we walked. The first picture was this horse. A lone horse tied in this small yard, but he did not seem to mind. He (or she) was busy eating his lunch.
Then we came upon this view.
And I looked back, and snapped some more pictures of the rice fields. But I’ll just post one picture. How about that?
We came upon again with another set of minorities girls, and this time they caught a tourist who was willing to open their wallet. Sorry with the crookedness of these two pictures. You know, technically I wasn’t supposed to take their picture without paying.. Ha ha….
More rice field pictures. Are you bored yet?
This building I believe was one of the local “guesthouse” or I could be totally wrong. I didn’t knock at the door and ask them. Even if I tried, I wouldn’t understand their local dialect.
More rice fields…
And pretty much after that, we came back to civilization.
And then we stopped at one of these buildings, Ping’An hotel. At the time I didn’t know that it was a hotel, I thought it was just a restaurant. I also didn’t know, that the name of this restaurant is the combination of my sister’s and my Chinese name! 🙂 Crystal ordered for us and Hubby liked the beef and potato best, while I liked the Kungpao chicken and the mushroom soup. In the back of my unspoken mind, I was afraid of getting sick from eating the food up in the mountain. We don’t know their hygienic habits and how they prepared their food. Luckily, I was born with a third-world stomach… 😀 We didn’t get sick at all.
While we were sitting at the restaurant, we sat by the window and slid it open. The cool mountain breeze was really refreshing. It didn’t last though, since there were other tourists that complained they were cold. Wuss… Oops… you didn’t hear me say that. 😀 Are you wondering what we could have seen from the restaurant?
After that, we made our trek back down, having our belly filled, and cooled down a little bit. I snapped more pictures, and get ready to get bored okay…
And that, my friend, the end of the story of this particular trip. So what do you think? Do you want to go up to the mountain and see these Longji Terraced Rice Fields?
This picture was based on three photos – I let the computer do the work and stitch them, so you can see on the right hand side, the computer did not do a good job. I lack an editing software, so I did not even try to attempt to fix it. Then at the left hand side, lower corner, I had to add more grass to cover the white area. So if you zoom in really close, you see all these deficiencies. But, it was enough for me, since when I look at this panoramic photo, I was instantly transported back to the mountain. So, my friends, this is the end of the story on this part of the journey.
If you are interested in finding more information about Longji, check out these links. Beware that most of the information out there came from the travel agencies, and I only found a few of bloggers out there who share their stories. If you are a hiker, this is definitely a place you should go.
Up next, the Li River Cruise. Stay tuned!
[Disclaimer: this is a very long, long, boring story, with lots and lots of pictures. I decided to split the story into two parts, so I won’t have disgruntled and sleepy readers… ]
Our first real touristy activity in Guilin was the day after we arrived in Guilin. We arrived in Guilin on Wednesday night and we headed straight from the airport to the hotel. We did not do much that night other than resting, since we barely made it to Guilin. You see, a few days before we were supposed to leave Indonesia, I injured my back. And you would ask me, “what did you do? ” Well, I only bent to pick up a bag, and there it was, I felt a tug in my left lower back. As the days progressed, my back was getting worse. Massage helped and gave immediate relief, however, the stiffness and spasms came back the next morning. So, when we were in Hong Kong, we looked for an acupuncturist. Luckily, we were able to see a traditional doctor. I got two dosages of acupuncture treatment, as well as a steroid shot to help loosen up those bothersome muscles. I was almost as good as new. So yes, I lived up to my name, Granny Anny.
Hobbling around the airport with a sore and stiff back was no fun, but it did give us a ticket to the fast lane with the Hong Kong immigration. The officer saw me hobbling around and pointed us to the special lane with barely one or two people in it. Oh, a tip for you: whenever you have to go through immigration at any airport, pick the lane closest to the citizen’s lane. Because when there is no one at the citizen’s lane, the immigration officer will call the people in the lane next to the citizen’s lane. So you might get lucky and not have to wait very long.
Back to Guilin. Our guide, Crystal, picked us up the next morning to go toward Longsheng, and then to Ping’An village to see the famous Longji terraced rice fields. Our tour was designed for just the two of us, so we don’t have to wait for other people. So we got this brown/reddish sedan with us, and off we went toward the mountains. It was a misty and foggy day, and somewhere along the road, rain drops fell on earth. We dreaded that it would rain all day, but what could we do? If Mother Nature wanted to give the earth water, who were we to tell her no?
While we sat in the back of the sedan, we acted like real tourists. We looked at the surroundings, and what we saw was very pleasing to the eyes. I attempted to take some pictures, but my back was not co-operating. So, there were only a few pictures taken during this road trip.
The area was agricultural; orange trees could be seen often, rice fields, other harvest plants, flocks of ducks could be seen everywhere. The land was very fertile from what we could see.
Then we came up with this view, and I told Hubby that it was very pretty. Part of this region somewhat reminded me of Bavaria, with the hilly mountain would set as background toward a house and the field.
I Googled the distance of Guilin and Longsheng area, and it was about 90 km or less than 60 miles. It took us about two hours to go to where we were supposed to be up in the mountains. A lot of the winding roads up the mountain reminded me of Indonesia, except the roads in Guangxi were much nicer and wider. The traffic was very minimal as well, which was really nice. To get a clear picture of the map, thanks to this tour website, I was able to pinpoint almost exactly where we were in the map.
By the time we reached the gate from where we had to walk on our two feet, rain came down on us. But, no worries, as usual with tourist places, there were lots of vendors selling souvenirs, umbrellas, ponchos, and what not. So we stopped and bought one umbrella for me, since we borrowed the one from our room, and also a couple of ponchos. Crystal tried to haggle for us, but Hubby was not one into haggling. So we paid whatever the vendor said it was. We put on the ponchos, and armed with the umbrellas, we were ready to climb.
Due to the rain, the camera stayed hidden in the backpack, under the poncho. So, we trudged upward slowly. The pathway upward was marked with chiseled stone steps wide enough for three people standing abreast. Our eyes had to stare down looking at those stones, to see where we should place our feet, in case we stepped at the wrong place and fell off the mountain, and that would not be a happy ending story.
Due to rain, we had to watch the slippery mud as well. With the rain coming down, the dirt around the step stones was splashed around, and unless you are a mountain goat, you would have to watch your steps. Unlike the steps to Heidelberg Castle, these stone steps were not numbered. But it was definitely more than the 315 steps. I think someone out there mentioned perhaps there was about more than 1000 steps? I didn’t count them. It was definitely a hike. You had to be in a very good shape to climb up these steps easily. Or, you could hire a palanquin carried by two people, and break no sweat at all.
As with tourist places, there were a bunch of other tourists climbing up and down the mountain. There was no rhyme or reason, at one time we had to walk on the right side of the steps, and at other time we had to walk on the left side of the steps. I don’t think anyone knew what the unspoken rule along the mountain was. We knew to watch our steps, as well as other people’s umbrellas. We did not want to get poked in the head and lose an eyeball. After what we thought was a never-ending step, we finally reached the first viewing point. Crystal told us that she was taking us to the top one viewing point, where there was a house with three Chinese flags. So we rested a bit here, and we still dared not to take out the camera at this point. The rain still drizzled down and we didn’t want to ruin our camera. [The pictures above were taken on the way down to the mountain, when rain had finally stopped.] Then, on we went up again.
As we trudged our way toward the top of the mountain (or somewhere up there, I don’t think we were at the summit), we saw a lot of vendors along the pathway. We also saw several areas where you could take pictures for a fee with the minority girls. These girls dressed from the top to the bottom, with the colorful clothing and the ornaments sown to the dress. One of them wore a bright blue dress, mixed with yellow, red, purple stripes and silver ornament and the other girl wore a red dress, with yellow, blue, black stripes. The headdress also was decorated with dangling ornaments. Glitters can be seen everywhere. Since I was a cheap tourist, I used my iPhone to take a picture of these girls. Most of the pictures were filled with my other hand holding the umbrella, so I had to crop and got rid of those funky pink shapes at the right corner of the picture.
Finally, we reached where we were supposed to be. Luckily, the rain stopped at this time, and we dug out the camera, and we climbed back down the mountain. Huh? Ha… I was just checking to see if you’re asleep or not…. Ha ha…
So, needless to say, it was well worth it to climb up the mountain for a good 45 minutes to an hour to see the rice fields. If you climb this mountain every day, your doctor will be very happy with your heart. You are probably thinking, what is so special about rice fields? You could see rice fields back in Indonesia. Well, I will let you know the answer in the next post. Ciao!
Every time we go back home to see my parents and my family in Indonesia, they all ask, “why do you keep coming here?” Ha! Don’t they know that we really like to take those gruesome two days to travel to see them? And that’s just one way. We lose three to four days to travel back and forth. Well, they mean well actually. They want us to see different parts of the world, rather than just sit our behinds on my mom’s or brother’s couch. But we enjoy them so much… perhaps more than they enjoy seeing us? Ha ha..
Hubby heeded their advice though. Usually, he will try to make a stopover in one place for three to five days, so we can sightsee other places. Recently, after our layover in Hong Kong, we took China Southern Airlines to go to Guilin. Guilin is located in the Southwest portion of China, in the Guangxi region. I heard from other people that Guilin is a pretty place, and I agree with them.
We stayed in Guilin for three days, and from there, we went to the surrounding areas to see some of the wonders that we don’t see back where we live. Since there are different places that we went to see, I will break my boring story into different posts. First, I’ll talk about Guilin itself, and then will go on to talk about Longsheng, where we saw terraced rice fields, then the Li River cruise, Yangshuo, Reed Flute Cave, and Fubo Hill. See, be prepared to read these while you’re having trouble sleeping. If I am able to make you go to sleep, I might claim this blog as a natural sleep remedy! 🙂
Guilin is a very neat town. It is not large enough to be so busy and crowded that we felt that we were back in Houston. Guilin is surrounded by natural limestone hills, covered in trees. So, as far as your eyes can see, you see the different shapes of these green hills everywhere. Some are so close that you think you can touch them, and some are so far away, with layer of shades of green getting lighter and eventually fades away. The contrast of a building with a hill behind it really caught my eye. I drank in all the wonders of Guilin greedily, trying to memorize the view as much as I can. I love the tranquility of the place, and would love to be able to go back and visit again. Below are a series of the different hills that we saw during our stay there. A lot of pictures were taken while we were in the car, so I had to scrap a bunch of them. I also picked just a few so that you wouldn’t be bored to see them too
The people of Guilin were of a mix of blue collar workers, as well as the white collar workers. You could see both the old and the new in Guilin. Their method of transportation involves two, three and four wheels. Most of their motorcycles are electric scooters, so they don’t need gasoline for those. They cost about 3,000 RMB, according to our guide. They transport pretty much about everything on these two wheels; dogs, humans, their groceries, just like in Indonesia. The accessories involved though are much more innovative than Indonesia’s. The riders use a full-face visor to cover their eyes and faces from the sun (and bugs); a jacket or some sort to cover for the front of the motorcycle; a foldable umbrella, a basket in front or back or both to add more storage space. The three wheels as well, looked like part of a bicycle or motorcycle with a wagon attached in the back.
The hotel where we stayed, the Guilin Bravo Hotel, is located in front of Ronghu (Rong Lake).
We walked around the lake one afternoon and took a few pictures. It was a hot day, so the walk did not last very long. We saw an elderly lady walking her pug, Nina. We crossed paths and we said “Hello” to each other. We walked a little further and decided to head back to the hotel and we saw them again. This time, instead of walking merrily, Nina was flattening herself to the stone bench, her tongue was sticking out, her whole body was shaking from panting, trying to cool herself off. Indeed, it was a hot and humid day. It was a good thing we are from Texas, where you can bake cookies inside your car, during summer time. Not that I ever tried that… Anyway, here are a few pictures from around the lake and surroundings. Enjoy!