Showing posts with label Guilin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guilin. Show all posts

Sunday, August 12, 2007

China: Cruise along the Lijiang River in Guilin

A trip to Guilin would not be complete without a cruise along the Lijiang River. We had a fantastic cruise along the Lijiang River today! The picturesque karst landscape was simply spectacular despite it being a cloudy day.

Our group left downtown Guilin at about 8:15 a.m. and was at the wharf 45 minutes later. I was surprised to see so many cruise ferries waiting. There were just so many tourists, both local and foreign! Cruise ferries in fact left almost every 5 to 10 minutes. The trip down the river would take about five hours. Buffet lunch is prepared and served on board.

It was drizzling when we left the wharf. But that did not hamper us from proceeding to the roof deck of the ferry to enjoy the great scenery. Indeed, this is a highly-recommended tour which one must include in a China itinerary. In fact, the Lijiang River Scenic Zone is in the China tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage inscription. I'm sure the scenes from the Lijiang River below which I uploaded in YouTube will definitely whet your travel appetite.

Despite the fact that I wanted to sit down and relax in the air-conditioned area below, I just could not leave the roof deck since every curve and turn along the river offered new surprises and better views. Observing the daily life along the river was a very enriching experience. And it was amusing seeing how vendors sold their wares on a higher level because they would try to catch the ferries, rowing their rafts towards us and hooking them to the cruise boats as soon as they made contact so that they could sell their wares to the passengers.

At the end of the cruise is Yangshuo County which has an old town that is well-preserved but has been transformed into a tourist trap. Souvenir shops and inns now occupy this old settlement along the Li River. There were so many people, I found it difficult to move around. But at least all the old buildings were preserved and have become economically viable. I have a lot of photos in Multiply.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, August 11, 2007

China: Guilin, forest of Sweet Osmanthus

The karst limestone landscape of Southern China are a recurring theme in many old Chinese paintings. And it was thus a pleasant surprise for me that the group was visiting Guilin, a city set amidst picturesque karst mountains, which is very famous in China for its fantastic natural and man-made scenery. Many Chinese say that Guilin's scenery is the "finest under heaven." The name of the city literally means "forest of Sweet Osmanthus" because of the large number of fragrant Sweet Osmanthus trees in the city. It’s a three hour flight from Beijing. There are also flights from other major cities such as Guangzhou and Shanghai.

As soon as we left the airport, the karst mountains greeted us. What is great about Guilin is despite the growth and urban development, they have managed to preserve most of the karst mountains as well as the old water system which linked the city together. It’s sad when I think about Baguio City since informal settlers have already occupied the once picturesque views; and there seems to nothing left of the natural environment. Same goes for the Pasig River and the esteros of Binondo and Sta. Cruz which I hope the City of Manila cleans and revives.

We arrived in time for lunch at the Shan Hu Hotel. The hotel is in downtown Guilin and it gave us a great view of the square in front of it. After lunch, we were given ample time to rest. But I decided to explore the vicinity. I visited Fir Lake beside the hotel which has two charming pagodas along the banks. After walking around, I rushed back to the hotel to catch our bus.

For the afternoon, we visited the Guihai Forest of Steles Museum. It’s a collection of over 200 steels carved around the karst mountains and its different caves. You could see that they come from different periods dating back to the Sui Dynasty since there are steles with the old Chinese calligraphy that is no longer in use.

In the evening, I went around the vicinity again. It was an incredible sight as the city's waterway areas were fantastically lit!

Today, we visited the Jing Jiang Palace, the seat of government of Guilin during imperial times. The Jing Jiang princes were generations of Ming princes dispatched by the emperor to govern Guilin.

At the back of the palace was an example of an Examination Hall where examinees sweated it out for three days and three nights answering the difficult examinations which were administered during imperial times.

In the afternoon, we went to the Jing Jiang Mausoleum, the burial grounds of the Ming princes. They are located five kilometers from the city center, at the foot of the grand Yao Mountain. Only one of the eleven tombs has been restored, namely the tomb of Zhuangjian. The setting of the tomb was panoramic as it was built amidst lush pine trees and surrounded by hills and mountains.

Ten figures can be found of each of the two side of the ceremonial way to the inner palace, which include animals such as elephants, unicorns, and pixiu. We had a forum with the local heritage managers in one of the halls of the tomb complex. Then it was back to downtown for dinner. Tomorrow we take a cruise along the Lijiang River!

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,
Related Posts with Thumbnails