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桂林 漓江
Guìlín and the Lí River

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"Guilin is a small city in Guangxi Province, a mountainous area of south China, on the Li River. The mist-shrouded hills are a common subject of Chinese paintings, with bamboo groves, waterfalls, and families of water buffalo along the banks." - George Ruff

5 am: Well Before Dawn

    Our local guide, Shao-Mei, suggested that we would find value in getting out of the hotel and taking a walk down the road, past the farming plots, in the early morning hours. I was out quite early, 45 minutes before sunrise, and here is some of what I saw. farm sheds loomed in the darkness, their grafitti emblazoned walls burst out, momentarily defined in the lightning of my flash. The friendly, but puzzled farmers thought I was crazy to take pictures of them, in the darkness.

    I saw an elderly lady carrying two baskets of bokchoy on a shoulder pole. Attempting to give her a hand, loading the baskets onto her bicycle, I was startled to find that each basket contained at least sixty pounds of vegetables.I felt a bit foolish struggling with the greenery, while she easily shifted an equivalent load onto her groaning bicycle pick-up truck. She smiled a shy ¨谢谢¨(¨Xìe Xìe¨), and then pedaled off into the darkness.

Farm sheds loom out of the darkness     
photo © Lance Nevard
Farmers Preparing Their Bokchoy for Market     
photo © L Nevard
I think I gave her plenty to talk about at the market, that morning.

     As I walked down the edge of the road, toward the heart of Guilin, the quiet was startling. Although there were dozens of people making their way through the darkness, all I could hear were the sound of rubber soles tapping the road and sharp knives cutting crisp vegetables. The whir of a bicycle chain, and the occasional soft murmer of voices, in the night, sometimes slipped through.

     As dawn`s first glow lightened the sky, I was startled to see the amazingly small farm plots that feed the people of China, such as those you can see in the image below.

- LN

Predawn labor in the fields     
photo © L Nevard
Time travel in Guilin     
photo © L Nevard
     About 5:30 am, the sun had not yet touched the horizon, when this woman came hurrying by. She was carrying four enormous bags of something pretty heavy, via shoulder pole. I thought that she could have come from 3500 years ago, until I noticed the cell phone in her right hand. Upon review of this image, I feel it is very representative of China, carrying its ancient past while plunging into the future.
     The man on the right is carrying about 150 lbs of vegetables, for sale in Guilin. He is hurrying through the predawn gloom, to get to get to the market by dawn. Wisdom says that the first to show his wares gets the best prices.
Heavy load in the predawn light     
photo © L Nevard
     The sun now up, it was time to head back to the hotel, for breakfast. I encountered several people, from our group, starting out to duplicate my efforts. I also noticed a lovely, hidden garden along the roadside. Behind the gate I spotted this amazing carved tree root.    - LN Root Carving  -  Guilin     
photo © L Nevard

Chinese Folk Music Performance     
photo © Jean Hill
     After lunch, we went to the Guilin Fine Arts Institute, where we had a lecture and demonstration of Chinese painting by an artist on the faculty. We bought one of his drawings, but haven`t yet decided where to put it. There were excursions to Elephant Hill, a market, and a school, where we had a demonstration of Chinese music on classical instruments. Jean took pictures of the musicians and also of a banner outside a children`s classroom across the hall announcing, “Let`s enjoy learning English.” After dinner, there was a trip to a night market, with sidewalk cafes, and a performance by a local theater group.
     The next day was our cruise on the Li River, where we took countless pictures of the beautiful scenes that unfolded as we sailed between the remarkable rounded hills on each side of the river. - GR

Voyage Down the Lí Jiang to Yángshuò

     Our trip down the Li Jiang was quite dramatic, starting at the town dock in Guilin. Our tour vessel was about 25 meters long, and, in many respects, similar to the boats we build at Scarano boat Building. This should not be surprising since the job requirements are pretty much the same. The biggest difference is caused by the shallow water of the Li River, where we frequently scraped the bottom, in less than 5 feet of water. These boats are powered by water-jet, instead of propellers, which would be ruined in their first attempt to descend the Li to Yangshuo.
Our local Guide, Shao-Mei - Guilin      
photo © L Nevard
     The famous karst hills of this region have been the subject of romantic landscapes for several thousand years, and they lived up to their promise spectacularly. The sun beat down from a cloudless sky and the cliffs stood fortress-like between the heavens and the tea-colored water.
Tour boat chef on the Li River     
photo © L Nevard
We slid past the peaks at a steadily increasing rate, while the water buffalo, endlessly chewing, stolidly looked on.

     Finally we reached stretches of river where naked boys were swimming, competing to retrieve the coins tourists tossed endlessly onto the riverbed.

The famous mountains of Guilin drop sheer into the Li River     
photo © L Nevard
     We shared some sherjyo (snake wine)from a jar with several kraits preserved within. Like the name implies, the potion is close to toxic, sort of like rocket fuel. The sheer hills kept slipping by at an ever increasing rate, then suddenly we were pulling up to the dock at Yangshuo. This tourist trap is a bit hard to endure, but the scenery is bogglingly picturesque. An ice cream and a soda later we boarded a bus for our hotel. karst hills and the River Li present a landscape symphony     
photo © L Nevard
Limestone hills along the River Li     
photo © L Nevard
A lovely temple beside the Li River     
photo © L Nevard
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