Guangxi province is located on the west of Guangdong province. Other than the Han ethnic group, some ethnic minorities such as Zhuang, Miao, Yao and so on live there so its full name is Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The natural beauty there is regarded as the “Paradise on the Earth”. Last week I went to Guangxi for 5 days and I totally fell in love with it.
Do you know where the scenery at the back of 20RMB bill lies? That’s Yangshuo!
Yangshuo is a popular tourist county near Guilin city in Guangxi province and is widely known for its peaks and rivers, the traditional handicrafts, and bars on the West street. It attracts lots of both Chinese and foreigners. In the day, you can rent a motorcycle from your hotel, which is a common means of transportation in Yangshuo, to travel through the “ten miles gallery”. The whole county is surrounded by thousands of narrow and tall mountains; it’s as if someone painted a layer of traditional Chinese ink over it. One way to enjoy the poetic scenery is to take a bamboo raft along the river between the mountains. The boatman will sometimes sing for you. The Li River cruise is truly the highlight not to be missed.
During the day it is usually quite serene, but it becomes the complete opposite at night on the West street. There are lots of music restaurants and bars. As a renowned specialty, Beer Fish, which is cooked in a beer broth, is worth having a try. When you have dinner, the folk band begins to play the music with guitars, drums or other instruments. After dinner, if you feel like having a drink or singing and dancing, you can easily find a bar. If you are interested in the local culture, the small stores selling delicate handicrafts would be a good choice. For example, you can find handicrafts made from clay, such as cartoon figures and flowers, which are first made by clay and then hand painted. Ceramics are also shaped into different items such as bowls, cups and piggy banks. You can even get some hands-on experience on the spot. You can also find some silversmiths sitting by their shop front making bracelets or necklaces using their small hammer.
The Longji rice terraces are located in Longsheng County, about 100 kilometers from Guilin, where the Zhuang minority live. Longji means dragon’s backbone, therefore it can be translated into Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces. The construction of the terraces began in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), and was not completed until the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). When you’re looking at the terraces, you will be amazed at their magnificent scale and cannot help but praise the culmination of both the profound wisdom and strenuous labor of the Zhuang people. There are two popular rice terrace areas: the Ping’an Terrace Fields and the Jinkeng Terrace Fields. The former is more popular and more developed than the latter. I chose Jinkeng because of its less touristy nature and more originality. For those who like outdoor exercise, there couldn’t be a better choice than to hike at the Longji Terraced Fields. But you may need to have your hotel provide a guide because there are a considerable number of small paths, which may easily lead to you getting lost. For those more interested in an alternative to walking, the cable way from the bottom of the rice terraces to the peak is very convenient (40 minutes instead of 3 hours of walking). Golden Buddha Peak is on the top of the Jinkeng Terrace Fields and allows you to take a wonderful photo of the spectacular scenery especially at sunset or sunrise. By the way, the best time to visit is from mid-April to mid-June when the fields are well-watered and you can see water glisteningunder the sun.
The bamboo rice and chicken are considered the two main kinds of traditional local food. I tried both in a local restaurant, and they were delicious with a special flavor of bamboo. When talking with the restaurant owner, I was told that traditionally people worked in the terrace fields far away from their houses and the food that they cooked in the early morning was always cold by lunch or dinner time. Gradually, they began to fill an empty bamboo tube with their rice and pieces of chicken, so they could cook it when needed. Besides the food, the ethnic costumes are an important feature of the local culture. Take the Miao people for example, they wear colorful clothes with silver jewelry, a symbol of social status.
In a word, Guangxi is a place that offers both wonderful natural landscape and interesting local minority culture.
Reported and Photographed by Zheng Hongqian
Edited by Yan Wandong