Finally came back to Singapore recently from China. Beguiling Guilin !!! It is touted as one of the most beautiful spots in China and it is also culturally rich & gastronimically fulfilling. Guilin is famous in China as having the country's most picturesque city. There are plenty of crystal-clear rivers flow through the city, encircled by mountains with unusual and bizarre rock formations & caves.
I must say that Guilin is really a remarkable area, which calls out to be explored and offers many days of fun & discovery to visitors.
Guilin was my last travel photography trip arranged & planned in 2010. Will start to plan a series of travel photography trips for this year, including a documentary photography trip. Honestly, great travel photography isn't about what camera or lens you carry along, but it's about opportunities. I want to start early, end late, get the best light, take time to get to know a place and come back again. To me, that's what travel photography is all about.
Most of Guilin lies on the west bank of Li River and the main road is Zhongshan ZhongLu 中山中路, which is split into 3 & runs roughly parallel to the river. On its southern section, Zhongshan Nanlu 中山南路 is Guilin's train station and main bus station. Its central section, Zhongshan Nanlu is a rapidly gentrifying streth tourist-class hotels, shops and expensive restaurants, while its nothern end, Zhongshan Beilu 中山北路 is the city's main commercial area.
Located in the west of the city, Xichenglu Pedestrian Street 西城路步行街 is the second commercial center of the city. Restaurants, clothing stores and other retailers can be found here. If you want to try Guilin cuisine, this is the place to go !!
The Reed Flute Cave 芦笛岩 gets the name from the reeds used for making flutes and pipes that grow at its entrance. The cave is regarded as the largest and most impressive cave in Guilin !
Tourists enter the cave and then take a U-shaped sight-seeing route to see different spots, whereupon they exit it from another cave quite near the entrance one. One trip lasts about one hour.
Illuminated by colored lighting in the Reed Flute Cave, the fantastic spectacle is found in many variations along this 240-meter-long cave. Walking through the serried stone pillars, tourists feast their eyes on changing spots, feeling they are in a paradise where the Gods live !!
If the western world has Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music, China's equivalent is Liu San Jie 刘三姐 or also known as Third Sister Liu, the titular character of a hit movie musical of the same era.
Just as millions of people sing along with "doe, a deer, a female deer", generations of Liu's fans have been enthralled by the melodious songs sung by Liu and her beau, Ah Niu 阿牛, as they flirt with each other and lead their fellow villagers in the fight against an evil landlord.
The modern-day rendition of Liu San Jie 刘三姐 on Guilin is the outdoor live performance co-directed by famous China's film-maker, Zhang Yi Mou 张艺谋.
For tourists who cannot live without carbohydrates in Guilin, one of the local dishes in the must-savour list is Guilin rice vermicelli. What makes this rice-flour staple special is its painstaking production process. Rather than thin, hair like strands, the version here is sliced from blocks of rice-flour for a more chunky bite. What makes this dish really enjoyable is the way different local eateries compete with each other to come up with the best soup and mix of ingredients to go with it !!
Solitary Beauty Peak 独秀峰 is located in the center of Guilin City and built around the Jingjiang Prince City Scenic Area which is a highest grade tourist resource in the city. It was built on the site of the mansion of the Prince Jingjiang in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). In the scenic area, the manmade sights embrace the natural beauty.
The renowned Yueya (Crescent) Pond is located at the foot of the peak. Its name is owing to its distinct crescent shape. The Sun Yat-sen Memorial Tower stands on the bank of the pond and was established in 1921 to memorize the revolution led by its namesake, Sun Yat-sen. Now, it has been acknowledged as one of the major protected heritages of Guilin City.
A stone stair of 306 steps will lead you to the top of the peak, where you can enjoy the beautiful scenery of Guilin City. I managed to climb up all the way !!!
The main hub of activity is the area around Central Square, 中心广场 built in the 1990s. In this downtown area, department stores, stalls and restaurants are usually open until late night daily. Between Central Square and Li River, lies the pedestrianised Zhengyang Jie 正阳街. Popularly referred as "walking street", this area is geared towards tourists, with a selection of restaurants, bars, galleries and fairly kitsch souvenir stalls.
Elegantly embellishing the scenery of Shan Lake, the Sun and Moon Twin Pagodas 日月双塔 are beautifully contructed. The octagonal, seven-storey Moon Pagoda is connected by an underwater tunnel to approx. 40 metres high Sun Pagoda, the world's tallest copper pagoda and one of the few pagodas anywhere in the world with a lift.
Camel Hill is one of the features of Seven Star Park 七星公园. With a bit of imagination, you will find that all the limestone hills in Guilin look like somebody or something. This hill looks incredibly like a huge camel standing in a vast grassland. At the foot of the hill there is a grassy lawn, which offers a pleasant place for a stroll. The place is very popular with locals, and many can be seen leisurely walking around in the early mooning or late afternoon.
Seven-Star Zoo 七星动物园 is located in the Guilin Seven-Star Park. It is the only zoo in Guilin city. Guilin Seven-Star Zoo was built in the early 1960s. After its construction, panda becomes the famous star here. Since 1960s, there have been raised more than 6 pandas. The two Olympic Pandas displayed during the 2008 Beijing Olympic have moved here recently and are regarded as the seventh and eighth panda kept in the Guilin Seven-Star Park.
The Wonder Garden is one of the most popular places in the zoo. Many children will come here to feed young sheep and rabbits.
This Seven Stars Park 七星公园 really makes for some pleasant strolls as there are peaks to climb, caves to explore, lawns to picnic on and even wild monkeys to spot during early evening on Moon Tooth Hill 月牙山 which is your best bet.
Try mentioning that you are going to Guilin to any Chinese person and you'll almost certainly receive longing looks of jealousy. For many, it is a dream destination and i can now understand why. Otherwordly karst topography provides stunning backdrop to a city set alongside the tranquil Li River and dotted scenic lakes, while many of the streets are lined with osmanthus trees, filling the air with a sweet fragrance not normally associated with Chinese cities.
Indeed, Guilin has been attracting many visitors from all parts of the world in the recent years. But please don't let this put this off though. Most of the sights are within easy cycling distance so you won't need to squeeze into buses to get to them and even if you do find Guilin a bit too much, its modern facilities, good transport links make it a convenient base from which to plan trips to the rest of the province and beyond !!
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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