Our next destination, Guilin, is what you think of when you think of the natural landscapes of China. Everything from the fisherman pushing their small rafts along a picturesque river surrounded by glorious mountains such as below.
Or to the green rice-paddies up in the mountain that change shades with the seasons.
We also visited our first set of “Chinese minority” groups.
Apparently only 10% of the Chinese population are considered minority groups, who the government give special rights to (such as having more than one child) but must have certain restrictions at the same time such as wearing their traditional clothing, and trying to keep to their way of life as much as possible. The group we visited, on the way up to the rice-paddies, were the Yao people, most well known for their women folk who only ever have a hair cut once in their life (when they are 16), but otherwise grown it out.
They wrap their hair around their head in different ways depending on whether or not they are married, or have kids and our tour guide explained how they take care of their – washing it with the fermented wash-off from the rice before cooking. Apparently it cleanses the hair and keeps it pretty much jet black and doesn’t smell so much. We entered the village and despite being drawn into a show where we were pretty much forced to buy some souvenirs as a “wedding gift” in a fake ceremony, seemed like a very peaceful life.
We walked up a very gently sloped mountain to get the top of some glorious country-side dotted with rice paddies on every corner. It also seemed to be a popular place for people to stay with many little small inns and hotels on the way up and popular with people who want to hike around the country-side.
On the way up, you can buy lots of products such as home-made chilli sauce, or some of the “Buddha Tea” that I think is apparently mangosteen tea, a fruity, sweet tea that definitely needs no sugar.
The next day after the rice-paddies, we took a river cruise. This river is very well known for its amazing scenery and the four hour tour takes you down amazingly sculpted mountains and beautiful landscaped dotted with cattle, fisherman and wildlife. We even stopped at a point that is so famous is sits on the 20 yuan note, although the photo doesn’t really do it justice.
On our final day in Guilin, we visited Elephant Island which is known for the mountains that look like elephant structures (or more like a wolly mammoth in this case to me).
And we popped into the local caves dotted with stalactites and stalagmites that a local farmer apparently stumbled upon when digging a hole. Although lighting has been fitted, apparently all of the structures are fitted except for the comfortable walking path tat our tour guide lead us through.
I’ve only been on caves like this once in my life, but the structures in this one were truly amazing.
Even more magnificent when reflected against an internally formed pool such as in the picture below:
Guilin was definitely a bit on the smaller-side to the cities in China. Still massive, though not as modern but very nice.