Guilin, China

The Gateway to the Chinese Stone Kingdom


animated rehearsal
traditional props
Unusual Pachyderm
Guilin-River-Li-Elephant-Trunk-hill-China-Guangxi
Concrete vs Stone
Jingjiang Prince's Palace, another version
mild medieval fashion
Game counted
sun and moon over the lake
Communist Gallery
a princely pediment
Tunnel to the other side of the city
Fellowship of Buddhas
group fishing
dragon tree
Guilin-Mulong-Pagoda-China-Guangxi
light symmetry
The immensity of jagged limestone hills around it is so majestic that the authorities of Beijing they print it on the back of the 20-yuan notes. Those who explore it almost always pass through Guilin. And even if this city in the province of Guangxi clashes with the exuberant nature around it, we also found its charms.

A Railway Epic

26. Twenty-six hours by train took us from Lijiang, in Yunnan province via Dali and Kunming to distant Guilin.

We ignore the Christmas in some Spartan chariot, displaced in a post-Communist community of Sino-passengers little given to such beliefs. Neither to Christians nor to pagans. Determined, yes, to celebrate the moments on board with the attachment of any others.

An uncompromised walk down the aisle reveals small tournaments of mahjong and of cards, banquets of noodles snapshots and conversations so animated that they sounded like discussion.

Almost 1500km after the departure, without ever setting eyes on other outsiders, practically at the same latitude as the origin, the composition that had been advancing for a long time between rice fields withered by the winter cold, slides into the final destination.

It's just past noon when it comes to a standstill at Guilin West station. We had slept as much as possible in the top sleeping places that suited us. Even so, as we walk along the platform, we can still feel the sway of the train and we drag ourselves and our luggage like the undead in search of meaning in that drain. rail of Eastern civilization.

Guilin Buildings, Guangxi Province, China

Concrete houses from Guilin below the immensity of rocky peaks around the city.

A Rest Even Better Than Deserved

Luckily, we had managed to stay in one of the most sophisticated and welcoming hotels in the city. After a short taxi ride and a quick check in, we surrendered to the laptops but ended up surrendering to the warm and padded bed, committed to recovering our bodies and minds from the fatigue we had been subjected to.

We woke up at night, hungry, but with enough energy to walk around the hotel in search of a spare landing for dinner.

It's dark. A peculiar dark. Here and there, desecrated by one or another street lighting, the pitch proves to be almost white because of the humidity that surrounds the city and, at that time of year, we were betting that the entire province of Guangxi.

We tighten the jackets to protect the bones of the well. Even without knowing the best course, we started on our way. The hotel was located in a prominent area of ​​the urban houses, between the neighborhoods of Sanliancun and Xiacun, on the verge of the Li River and the bridge on Huancheng North Street that crossed it.

Guilin's Foggy Night

We advanced in the opposite direction from the river, guided by lights that the fog distorted but that hinted at some niche of civilization. We alternate between the side of the road and another side street, dotted with trees.

At first, we thought it was a pedestrian refuge, so we walked unconcerned with the traffic. That's until a phantom scooter comes out of nowhere and forces us into an emergency near-jump. It was the first. It wouldn't be the last.

In recent times, motorcycles and small electric cars have become fashionable in the China, much thanks to the savings in fuel costs they provide.

But the epidemic's disrespect for traffic rules and signs validated that, betting on prolonging battery charges, their drivers would drive around at night, like that, with the lights off, without any intention of blowing the horn, whatever the unforeseen event.

An open restaurant but deserted with clientele shortens the walk. We install ourselves. we ask the chao fan and miàn tiao (semi-fried rice and pasta with vegetables) that we knew were ideal for filling your belly and simplifying processes. We devour them with the avidity of someone who has not seen a plated meal for two days, we return to the hotel, to laptops and to sleep.

Tunnel, Guilin, China

Motorcyclist crosses from the old town to another more modern part of Guilin.

New Day, Same Fog

We had breakfast in the company of Ruby Zhu, the Communications Manager of the hotel. Ruby was born in Xian. Studied at Amsterdam, visited Germany and Belgium and got used to European freedom.

He doesn't shy away from communicating, whatever the theme: “we're not going to the ball with the Japanese… the hotel's TVs have to be good. We don't want the Chinese because they are still far from it. But we don't buy the Japanese ones either. We buy the Koreans. Korean women are good and their factories are in the China, so we help them.”

With the morning getting too exhausted for our taste, we cut short the gathering. We rushed into town.

Isolated from the center of China across the Nan Mountains, Guangxi Province has always stood apart, both geographically and in the imagination of Chinese elsewhere, who give it a good deal of mysticism, visible in the artistic illustrations of countless Chinese restaurants in the China, and around the world.

From Industry to Betting on Ecology

A channel named Ling, opened in ancient times (II BC), allowed small boats to navigate from the Yangtze River to the Xi, through another, the Xiang. Thereafter, commerce took off and developed with no return. In a vast river area and with heavy rainfall, agriculture soon conquered its space. It guaranteed the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of souls that had migrated there.

We advance in time. At the time of World War II, Guilin had a population of over two million when it served as a base for successive attacks against Japanese invading forces. Unsurprisingly, it suffered retaliation from the Japanese. It was razed to the ground.

The authorities outlined a recovery based on the installation of several polluting factories. Later, when the surrounding landscape aroused the admiration of the world, the investment in tourism marketing in the region forced the expulsion of these factories.

Guilin continued to develop in the intended ecological register. The city is now the third in Guangxi, after the capital Nanning (almost 7 million inhabitants) and Liuzhou (4 million).

Urban Guilin is home to not even a million inhabitants but it receives 3.2 million visitors every year. At the time of this text, Guilin was not part of a single building with more than twenty floors, a rare case in the China contemporary, committed to growing in all directions including the sky.

Prince's Palace of Jingjiang, Guilin, China

The yellow Palace of the Prince of Jingjiang, against one of the area's many sharp cliffs.

Monuments that Accompanied History

Even erected during the Ming dynasty (1372 AD to 1392 AD), the yellow Prince's Palace of Jingjiang, which we find 4km away, on the other side of the Li River, seems to compete for the blue of the firmament with one of the sharp and abrupt cliffs that rise from the soil, a little everywhere.

It appears in the heart of the Inner City, the historic heart of Guilin with 630 years, older than that of the Forbidden City of Beijing. Today, as seen by the number of young people passing through, it functions as the University of Guangxi, but in the 257 years since its construction until it was damaged during the Qing dynasty, the palace welcomed fourteen kings from twelve different generations.

Not only. During the Chinese Civil War, Kuomintang founder Sun Yat-sen also lodged there, during the Northern Expedition (1926-1928) in which the Chinese National Revolutionary Army sought to defeat the Beyiang Government based in Beijing and other warlords to reunite the China still divided due to unforeseen effects of the First Chinese Revolution.

A Solitary Peak with a Panoramic View

It took us time to assimilate the complex history of the place. Much more than the beauty of the walled complex, organized around four large pavilions, four halls and forty other large buildings “in the shadow” of the imposing Solitary Beauty Peak, another sharp hill located almost over the Li River and which we have the best of sense of climbing the steep, winding staircase. We know that we have reached the summit when, exhausted, we come face to face with the small pagoda that crowns it.

From that prominent peak, from which, during the summer, abundant vegetation hangs, we can admire a 360º view: the houses of Guilin ahead, especially to the left of the Li river that cuts through the city.

In the greater distance, in almost all directions, the silhouettes of the peaked hills abundant in these parts of the north of Guangxi and that form the stunning Empire of Rock of the region, the domain of Leye-Fengshan, declared geopark such is the geological virtuosity of its countless cliffs, caves and underground limestone chambers.

As soon as spring creeps in, this scenario attracts an eager horde of speleologists, climbers and adventurers in general willing to risk (at least a little) their lives in honor of the magnificence and eccentricity of the local Nature. We were still in the middle of winter. Accordingly, as was the case at the top of Solitary Beauty Peak, visitors were mostly Chinese on holiday after New Year's Eve western period.

Riverside Life on the Margins of Li

We return to ground level and to the bank of the Li, pointing to its other peculiarity, Elephant Trunk Hill. Along the way, protected from the possible rain under a bridge, a battalion of women armed with drums and holding strips of glossy fabric, rehearsed movements of any parade in which they were going to participate.

Ahead, a fleet of fishermen seated on the same number of bamboo rafts, the traditional Li's, fished on the icy and almost immobile waters of the river.

Fishermen on the Li River, Guilin, China

Fishermen share the frigid waters of the Li River, the river that crosses Guilin.

Elephant Trunk Hill forced us to walk 5km. We can identify it, of course, by the way it is named, notable for the fact that a long hill ends above the river with a huge hole that, after the rainy season, is reduced to half.

We continue along the Li, in the direction of Fubo Hill, another limestone hill with its foot pockmarked by erosion and with three independent caves. Including the Thousand Bhuddas Cave, filled with Buddha sculptures conquered there from the rock walls during the Tang dynasty (608-907 CE).

It's 8 or 9 degrees. Indifferent to the freshness and to the astonishment of an entourage that enjoyed the river from the openings of the cave, a resident of Guilin determined to preserve the youth of his body, nothing in front of him. It flails in the greenish water, in stark contrast to a jacketed fisherman looking at it indifferently over the edge of the cliff.

As happens throughout the China, souvenir merchants maintain a stall in the vicinity with colorful costumes from the various ethnic minorities of Guangxi: the Zhuang, the Yao, the Hui, the Miao and the Dong. One after the other but well spaced, the Chinese Chinese tourists wear their favorite clothes and have themselves photographed in a fuss.

Discovering the eccentric Guilin Lacustre

We return to the city center. There we looked for another of its emblematic havens of tranquility and leisure, the urban lake of Fir (Shanhu). When we arrive, groups of inhabitants synchronize their souls according to the choreographies of the Tai Chi while the short day of Chinese winter fades away.

The intensifying twilight highlights the two almost twin pagodas that protrude from the lake. These are the Sun and Moon, also known as Silver and Gold, and lit to match. It would not be the last pagodas we would enjoy that night or in Guilin.

We left in a hurry. We took a taxi to the hotel. On the way, we stop at Mulong, another lake part of the city's “two rivers, four lakes” water itinerary. Mulong has everything to be important but we find him without a soul, relegated to an apparent secondary plan.

Historic buildings of Mulong Lake, Guilin, China.

Mulong Lake architectural ensemble with illuminated pagoda and bridge between limestone cliffs.

Completely alone, we are dazzled by the Asian exoticism of that other historical setting, sandwiched between two huge cliffs connected by an arched bridge. The complex is also illuminated, even more exuberantly than the Sun and Moon pagodas.

Finally, we found an employee. With a lot of effort, he explains to us that only in high season do small restaurants open and a themed show is staged. At that time, the place was only used to host private events and celebrations.

After dark, the first guests of one of them appear. We, granted you the contracted exclusivity and we went back to the hotel surprised and satisfied with what the city had revealed to us. The next morning, we move to Yangshuo and begin to explore the magical water and rock scenery that surrounds Guilin.

Shows

The World on Stage

All over the world, each nation, region or town and even neighborhood has its own culture. When traveling, nothing is more rewarding than admiring, live and in loco, which makes them unique.
Badaling, China

The Sino Invasion of the Great Wall of China

With the arrival of the hot days, hordes of Han visitors take over the Great Wall of China, the largest man-made structure. They go back to the era of imperial dynasties and celebrate the nation's newfound prominence.
Beijing, China

The Heart of the Great Dragon

It is the incoherent historic center of Maoist-Communist ideology and almost all Chinese aspire to visit it, but Tianamen Square will always be remembered as a macabre epitaph of the nation's aspirations.
Huang Shan, China

Huang Shan: The Yellow Mountains of the Floating Peaks

The granitic peaks of the floating yellow mountains of Huang Shan, from which acrobat pines sprout, appear in artistic illustrations from China without count. The real scenery, in addition to being remote, remains hidden above the clouds for over 200 days.
Castles and Fortresses

The World to Defense - Castles and Fortresses that Resist

Under threat from enemies from the end of time, the leaders of villages and nations built castles and fortresses. All over the place, military monuments like these continue to resist.
Dali, China

Chinese Style Flash Mob

The time is set and the place is known. When the music starts playing, a crowd follows the choreography harmoniously until time runs out and everyone returns to their lives.
Lhasa, Tibet

The Sino-Demolition of the Roof of the World

Any debate about sovereignty is incidental and a waste of time. Anyone who wants to be dazzled by the purity, affability and exoticism of Tibetan culture should visit the territory as soon as possible. The Han civilizational greed that moves China will soon bury millenary Tibet.
Lijiang e Yangshuo, China

An Impressive China

One of the most respected Asian filmmakers, Zhang Yimou dedicated himself to large outdoor productions and co-authored the media ceremonies of the Beijing OG. But Yimou is also responsible for “Impressions”, a series of no less controversial stagings with stages in emblematic places.
Lijiang, China

A Gray City but Little

Seen from afar, its vast houses are dreary, but Lijiang's centuries-old sidewalks and canals are more folkloric than ever. This city once shone as the grandiose capital of the Naxi people. Today, floods of Chinese visitors who fight for the quasi-theme park it have become take it by storm.
Dunhuang, China

An Oasis in the China of the Sands

Thousands of kilometers west of Beijing, the Great Wall has its western end and the China and other. An unexpected splash of vegetable green breaks up the arid expanse all around. Announces Dunhuang, formerly crucial outpost on the Silk Road, today an intriguing city at the base of Asia's largest sand dunes.
Longsheng, China

Huang Luo: the Chinese Village of the Longest Hairs

In a multi-ethnic region covered with terraced rice paddies, the women of Huang Luo have surrendered to the same hairy obsession. They let the longest hair in the world grow, years on end, to an average length of 170 to 200 cm. Oddly enough, to keep them beautiful and shiny, they only use water and rice.
Bingling Yes, China

The Canyon of a Thousand Buddhas

For more than a millennium and at least seven dynasties, Chinese devotees have extolled their religious belief with the legacy of sculpture in a remote strait of the Yellow River. If you disembark in the Canyon of Thousand Buddhas, you may not find all the sculptures, but you will find a stunning Buddhist shrine.
Dali, China

The Surrealist China of Dali

Embedded in a magical lakeside setting, the ancient capital of the Bai people has remained, until some time ago, a refuge for the backpacker community of travelers. The social and economic changes of China they fomented the invasion of Chinese to discover the southwest corner of the nation.
Lhasa a Gyantse, Tibet

Gyantse, through the Heights of Tibet

The final target is the Tibetan Everest Base Camp. On this first route, starting from Lhasa, we pass by the sacred lake of Yamdrok (4.441m) and the glacier of the Karo gorge (5.020m). In Gyantse, we surrender to the Tibetan-Buddhist splendor of the old citadel.
Amboseli National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, Normatior Hill
Safari
Amboseli National Park, Kenya

A Gift from the Kilimanjaro

The first European to venture into these Masai haunts was stunned by what he found. And even today, large herds of elephants and other herbivores roam the pastures irrigated by the snow of Africa's biggest mountain.
Faithful light candles, Milarepa Grotto temple, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 9th Manang to Milarepa Cave, Nepal

A Walk between Acclimatization and Pilgrimage

In full Annapurna Circuit, we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). we still need acclimatize to the higher stretches that followed, we inaugurated an equally spiritual journey to a Nepalese cave of Milarepa (4000m), the refuge of a siddha (sage) and Buddhist saint.
Architecture & Design
Cemeteries

the last address

From the grandiose tombs of Novodevichy, in Moscow, to the boxed Mayan bones of Pomuch, in the Mexican province of Campeche, each people flaunts its own way of life. Even in death.
Adventure
Volcanoes

Mountains of Fire

More or less prominent ruptures in the earth's crust, volcanoes can prove to be as exuberant as they are capricious. Some of its eruptions are gentle, others prove annihilating.
knights of the divine, faith in the divine holy spirit, Pirenopolis, Brazil
Ceremonies and Festivities
Pirenópolis, Brazil

A Ride of Faith

Introduced in 1819 by Portuguese priests, the Festa do Divino Espírito Santo de Pirenópolis it aggregates a complex web of religious and pagan celebrations. It lasts more than 20 days, spent mostly on the saddle.
Riders cross the Ponte do Carmo, Pirenópolis, Goiás, Brazil
Cities
Pirenópolis, Brazil

A Polis in the South American Pyrenees

Mines of Nossa Senhora do Rosário da Meia Ponte were erected by Portuguese pioneers, in the peak of the Gold Cycle. Out of nostalgia, probably Catalan emigrants called the mountains around the Pyrenees. In 1890, already in an era of independence and countless Hellenizations of its cities, Brazilians named this colonial city Pirenópolis.
Singapore Asian Capital Food, Basmati Bismi
Meal
Singapore

The Asian Food Capital

There were 4 ethnic groups in Singapore, each with its own culinary tradition. Added to this was the influence of thousands of immigrants and expatriates on an island with half the area of ​​London. It was the nation with the greatest gastronomic diversity in the Orient.
Obese resident of Tupola Tapaau, a small island in Western Samoa.
Culture
Tonga, Western Samoa, Polynesia

XXL Pacific

For centuries, the natives of the Polynesian islands subsisted on land and sea. Until the intrusion of colonial powers and the subsequent introduction of fatty pieces of meat, fast food and sugary drinks have spawned a plague of diabetes and obesity. Today, while much of Tonga's national GDP, Western Samoa and neighbors is wasted on these “western poisons”, fishermen barely manage to sell their fish.
combat arbiter, cockfighting, philippines
Sport
Philippines

When Only Cock Fights Wake Up the Philippines

Banned in much of the First World, cockfighting thrives in the Philippines where they move millions of people and pesos. Despite its eternal problems, it is the sabong that most stimulates the nation.
Fruit sellers, Swarm, Mozambique
Traveling
Enxame Mozambique

Mozambican Fashion Service Area

It is repeated at almost all stops in towns of Mozambique worthy of appearing on maps. The machimbombo (bus) stops and is surrounded by a crowd of eager "businessmen". The products offered can be universal such as water or biscuits or typical of the area. In this region, a few kilometers from Nampula, fruit sales suceeded, in each and every case, quite intense.
amazing
Ethnic

Amberris Caye, Belize

Belize's Playground

Madonna sang it as La Isla Bonita and reinforced the motto. Today, neither hurricanes nor political strife discourage VIP and wealthy vacationers from enjoying this tropical getaway.

Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

life outside

Sanahin Cable Car, Armenia
History
Alaverdi, Armenia

A Cable Car Called Ensejo

The top of the Debed River Gorge hides the Armenian monasteries of Sanahin and Haghpat and terraced Soviet apartment blocks. Its bottom houses the copper mine and smelter that sustains the city. Connecting these two worlds is a providential suspended cabin in which the people of Alaverdi count on traveling in the company of God.
Santiago, island, Cape Verde, São Jorge dos Órgãos
Islands
Santiago, Cape Verde

Santiago from bottom to top

Landed in the Cape Verdean capital of Praia, we explore its pioneer predecessor city. From Cidade Velha, we follow the stunning mountainous ridge of Santiago to the unobstructed top of Tarrafal.
Sampo Icebreaker, Kemi, Finland
Winter White
Kemi, Finland

It's No "Love Boat". Breaks the Ice since 1961

Built to maintain waterways through the most extreme arctic winter, the icebreaker Sampo” fulfilled its mission between Finland and Sweden for 30 years. In 1988, he reformed and dedicated himself to shorter trips that allow passengers to float in a newly opened channel in the Gulf of Bothnia, in clothes that, more than special, seem spacey.
Baie d'Oro, Île des Pins, New Caledonia
Literature
Île-des-Pins, New Caledonia

The Island that Leaned against Paradise

In 1964, Katsura Morimura delighted the Japan with a turquoise novel set in Ouvéa. But the neighboring Île-des-Pins has taken over the title "The Nearest Island to Paradise" and thrills its visitors.
Dark day
Nature

Lake Cocibolca, Nicaragua

sea, sweet sea

Indigenous Nicaraguans treated the largest lake in Central America as Cocibolca. On the volcanic island of Ometepe, we realized why the term the Spaniards converted to Mar Dulce made perfect sense.

Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Autumn
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Guides penetrate Cidade de Pedra, Pirenópolis
Natural Parks
Stone Town, Goiás, Brazil

A City of Stone. Precious.

A lithic vastness emerges from the cerrado around Pirenópolis and the heart of the Brazilian state of Goiás. With almost 600 hectares and even more millions of years old, it brings together countless capricious and labyrinthine ruiniform formations. Anyone who visits it will be lost in wonder.
Christmas in the Caribbean, nativity scene in Bridgetown
UNESCO World Heritage
Bridgetown, Barbados e Grenada

A Caribbean Christmas

Traveling, from top to bottom, across the Lesser Antilles, the Christmas period catches us in Barbados and Grenada. With families across the ocean, we adjusted to the heat and beach festivities of the Caribbean.
Visitors to Ernest Hemingway's Home, Key West, Florida, United States
Characters
Key West, United States

Hemingway's Caribbean Playground

Effusive as ever, Ernest Hemingway called Key West "the best place I've ever been...". In the tropical depths of the contiguous US, he found evasion and crazy, drunken fun. And the inspiration to write with intensity to match.
Santa Marta, Tayrona, Simón Bolivar, Ecohabs of Tayrona National Park
Beaches
Santa Marta and PN Tayrona, Colombia

The Paradise from which Simon Bolivar departed

At the gates of PN Tayrona, Santa Marta is the oldest continuously inhabited Hispanic city in Colombia. In it, Simón Bolívar began to become the only figure on the continent almost as revered as Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.
Ulugh Beg, Astronomer, Samarkand, Uzbekistan, A Space Marriage
Religion
Samarkand, Uzbekistan

The Astronomer Sultan

The grandson of one of the great conquerors of Central Asia, Ulugh Beg, preferred the sciences. In 1428, he built a space observatory in Samarkand. His studies of the stars led him to name a crater on the Moon.
End of the World Train, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
On Rails
Ushuaia, Argentina

Last Station: End of the World

Until 1947, the Tren del Fin del Mundo made countless trips for the inmates of the Ushuaia prison to cut firewood. Today, passengers are different, but no other train goes further south.
4th of July Fireworks-Seward, Alaska, United States
Society
Seward, Alaska

The Longest 4th of July

The independence of the United States is celebrated, in Seward, Alaska, in a modest way. Even so, the 4th of July and its celebration seem to have no end.
Coin return
Daily life
Dawki, India

Dawki, Dawki, Bangladesh on sight

We descended from the high and mountainous lands of Meghalaya to the flats to the south and below. There, the translucent and green stream of the Dawki forms the border between India and Bangladesh. In a damp heat that we haven't felt for a long time, the river also attracts hundreds of Indians and Bangladeshis in a picturesque escape.
Flock of flamingos, Laguna Oviedo, Dominican Republic
Wildlife
Oviedo Lagoon, Dominican Republic

The (very alive) Dominican Republic Dead Sea

The hypersalinity of the Laguna de Oviedo fluctuates depending on evaporation and water supplied by rain and the flow coming from the neighboring mountain range of Bahoruco. The natives of the region estimate that, as a rule, it has three times the level of sea salt. There, we discover prolific colonies of flamingos and iguanas, among many other species that make up one of the most exuberant ecosystems on the island of Hispaniola.
Full Dog Mushing
Scenic Flights
Seward, Alaska

The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.