Villages, rice fields and karst mountains

Villages, rice fields and karst mountains

Are you ready for more China stories? As you’re reading this I’m probably already on my next adventure in Portugal, but I’m definitely not done telling you about my trip through China. It’s was such a special and interesting trip and I’m super excited to share this next part with you. After Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Yichang and Zhangjiajie, it’s now time to explore Guilin and it’s surroundings, but first we stop for a night in the beautiful ancient village Fenghuang.

After about 6 hours on the bus from Zhangjiajie we arrived in Fenghuang. The hotel owner had told us to get a taxi to the south bridge and have the taxi driver call them so they could pick us up. I’d already read in the reviews that the hotel was hard to find and I’m so happy that the owner picked us up from one of the main streets and guided us through all the small alleys towards the hotel. We definitely would not have found it on our own. Fenghuang is a beautiful ancient village build along the river. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much completely taken over by all the Chinese tourists. We never really like walking along the touristy streets, so we always try to venture off a bit to find more quite places and that’s what we did here too. We walked along some lovely alleys admiring all the wooden houses. Despite it being super touristy I did really like Fenghuang and I especially loved walking along the river at night and seeing how all the houses were lit up beautifully.

Ping An
It was the plan to go from Fenghuang to Dazhai village to visit the Longji Rice Terraces, but not everything can always go according to plan. We couldn’t get there in one day and additionally to that our hotel cancelled on us. So, we ended up staying a night in Guilin and the next morning we took the bus to Ping An (another village in the Longji Rice Terrace area). The trip there was definitely an interesting one, we had to take a mini bus first, which dropped us of at a certain crossing, because the bus was going to another village. So, we found ourself sitting on the side of the road, waiting for another bus to take us to Ping An. It kind of felt like we were part of Peking Express (a Dutch TV show) and needed to find a ride. Some busses passed us because they were either going in the wrong direction or they were full, until one bus stopped. It looked like it was completely full already, but somehow the driver managed to get all 6 of us (some other backpackers were waiting as well) in. So we were standing, holding on to the luggage racks for dear life while going up all the winding and bumpy roads to Ping An. After that insane bus ride all that was left for us was about a 30-minute hike up the mountain to our hotel, with all our luggage on our backs. I was sooo sweaty, but we made it! After taking a little rest we hiked up to the ‘nine dragons and five tigers’ viewpoint, where we sat in the sun for about 3 hours enjoying the spectacular view.

In the evening we went out for dinner in a local restaurant. It turned out to be a restaurant where a lot of Chinese tour groups ate. When we walked in basically all heads turned to us and they all started trying to make conversation with us. I honestly have no idea what happened, but at some point everybody was standing around our table and someone offered us some sort of alcoholic drink with which we had to toast. Everyone was video taping and wanted to take photos with us and of course no one spoke English. It was complete chaos and absolutely hilarious! About half way through I also started videotaping, so get excited to see that footage in one of my vlogs soon. After they all left we got to enjoy our food in a little more quietness and it was delicious, probably my favourite Chinese food during our trip!

After a night in Ping An we made the trip back to Guilin, this time we got a ride from the owner of the hotel who needed to go to Guilin as well, which was so much more comfortable and faster than the bus. When I was planning our trip I basically just saw Guilin as a necessary stop to reach the rice fields and to catch the boat to Yangshuo, but it turned out we actually really enjoyed our time in Guilin. There are some beautiful lakes, with some pagoda’s that lit up at night and we really liked the boulevard they’ve made next to the river. In the morning there were some dance classes going on and the vibe was amazing. Also, we got our nails done, which is always a good idea if you ask me ;p.

The next day we traveled to Yangshuo, not by train or bus, but by boat. The views of the karst mountains were stunning. I think these mountains are actually really funny, because it’s not like a normal hilly area. It’s completely flat and then every now and then a bump pops out of the ground. On our boat ride we also got the see the mountains that are pictured on the 20 Yuan note, so that was pretty special.

Yangshuo itself is super touristy, the main street is insanely crowed and everything is soooo loud. I feel like the Chinese think the more lights and the more noice the better. We’d already come across quite some points where this showed very clearly, but this one is definitely the winner. All the shops had loud music and salesmen and -women talking through microphone to try and get people into their stores. The funniest thing was though that when you go one street further there is legit nobody and it’s basically completely dark and silent. The reason why Yangshuo is really worth visiting though, is it’s surrounding nature. We rented bikes from a place around the corner from our hotel and went on a biking trip through the countryside. Within no time you’re out of the craziness of the city and we found ourself biking through small villages and along the river. Of course, it was pouring rain again, but just like before we didn’t let that stop us and eventually it cleared up and we really got to appreciate riding our bikes through this beautiful country.

On our last evening in China we went to the Impression Sanjie Liu show. Honestly, this is the most amazing show I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s performed by over 600 people (an entire village we’ve been told, I didn’t actually count them, but there were a lot). The stage is the Li River and the backdrop are the karst mountains. I can’t really describe what the show was like, but sometimes I felt like it could have been an opening or closing ceremony for the olympic games, that’s how spectacular it was. My favourite moment was when there were I think about 150 men all on their own little rafts and they pulled up red silks from the water in different patterns and rhythms. I have no idea if that makes any sense to you, but it was spectacular.

So, that sums up our last week or so in mainland China. Luckily we still had Hong Kong to look forward too! I’m so happy with the itinerary I’d planned, because we had exactly the right balance between cities, nature, villages and travel days. At some moments I was so happy we got to sit in a train or bus for a full day because I was exhausted, but I think that’s a great sign because it means we did and saw so many amazing things and we really have done everything we could possible want. I hope you enjoyed coming along with us to Fenghuang, Ping An, Guilin and Yangshuo in this blog!

2 Replies to “Villages, rice fields and karst mountains”

  1. Wat een mooi verhaal heb je geschreven! Ik heb het helemaal opnieuw beleefd. Het was geweldig met jou te reizen!

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