China: Guangxi: Stepping into the Scroll
In Guanxi Provence, traditional arts and farming practices flourish amid ancient towns and the serene kasts landscape along the meandering Li River.
Your driver will meet you at the airport in Guilin, and transfer you directly to your modern five-star hotel on the banks of the Li River. The rest of the evening is free for you to either rest or stroll along the nearby streets to experience the flavor of this city with a rich history of over 2,000 years.
After breakfast, join your guide for a three-hour cruise down the Li River, which is considered by many to be the most beautiful river in China. Cruising along, it feels as if you are idling along a corridor of landscape paintings—limestone pinnacles are sprinkled amidst terraced rice fields and picturesque villages.
Disembark in Xingping, an ancient town where locals have been living along the historic main street for many generations. Visit the old houses and a rice wine brewery in Xingping before driving to the town of Fuli. Fuli is a small town of 4,000 people, yet boasts a history of over 1,000 years. A quarter of Fuli’s residents earn their income from making traditional painted fans and umbrellas. Walk along the ancient narrow stone streets and visit the local market, farms, rice wine factory, and a fan craft shop.
In Fuli, surrounded by the very same landscape that has inspired millennia of Chinese artists, you will learn the art of executing the precise, yet unrestrained, strokes of Chinese landscape painting. Your lesson will take place on a terrace beside the riverbank.
At the end of the day, you will continue on, driving to Yangshuo. Check into your boutique hotel, which is nestled against the picturesque Yangshuo countryside. Each room has its own balcony, so you can take in the serene karst landscape and views of the meandering river.
This morning, you have two options:
Option 1 – Bicycling and Hiking: Begin your day with a guided bicycling outing, heading towards Aishan village, via an old country road to Yongcun village. Cycle through picturesque hamlets, tucked among subtropical plants and stretched between rice paddies. As you ride, you will approach the famous Moon Hill, rising out of the distance. After climbing 819 steps, you will reach the summit of Moon Hill, and be rewarded with a bird’s-eye-view of the surrounding hills and the “Moon,” which used to be the underground river canal.
Option 2 – Villages and Bamboo Rafting: With your guide, drive or cycle through the serene villages back to Yangshuo, where you can stop to chat with local farmers, and take a short ride on a bamboo raft down the Yulong River, a quieter tributary of the Li River. Drift through the beautiful valleys of the Guilin area. The steep green hillsides and dramatic limestone peaks that line the rivers here have inspired generations of Chinese landscape painters.
After lunch at a local family’s home, you will have a free afternoon to explore West Street, a popular area with cafes, bars, and restaurants, and a selection of souvenir shops.
In the late afternoon, sit down to dinner at a local restaurant before viewing an outdoor performance with the stunning karst peaks serving as backdrop. Directed by a highly-acclaimed Chinese director, this live performance is a well-orchestrated mixture of dancing, lighting, and colors.
At the start of your day, have an assessment done by a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) specialist on the grounds of the hotel. Medicine in China dates back some 4,000 years and began with the ancient emperors’ interest in finding the elixir of life. Today, the treatment is still founded on the use of herbs, diet, and acupuncture, with an emphasis on qi, the vital force of living things. Qi gives rise to the opposite and interdependent forces of yin and yang. In Chinese medicine, a medical problem is caused by a yin-yang imbalance within the patient.
The rest of the morning is left open for you to explore or take part in creative arts activity on the hotel grounds.
After lunch, meet your driver for the three-to-four-hour-long trip to Longsheng. Porters will take care of your luggage while you stretch your legs on the 30-minute uphill walk to your boutique hotel, which features spectacular views of the Longsheng rice terraces. Your lodge was built using only traditional Chinese pegs and grooves; not a single nail was used during construction. When you arrive at the end of your climb, you will be welcomed to the village with a special singing ceremony and a glass of local wine.
After breakfast, visit the magnificent Longsheng terraced rice fields with your guide. Carved into the hillside over a period of hundreds of years by the local Zhuang and Yao ethnic minority communities, the rice fields, when filled with water, are thought to resemble dragon’s scales, hence the mountain’s name – Dragon’s Back. Cross paths with Zhuang and Yao ethnic minority villagers, as you traverse the terraced slopes connecting the villages.
Stop for lunch, a picnic, or a visit to a local farmer’s house, depending on the day. After returning to the lodge, you’ll enjoy a lovely dinner at their restaurant. Comprised of fresh vegetables grown in the local villages, and poultry and pork raised organically, the delicious entrees are full of local countryside charms.
This morning, you will be transferred back to Guilin airport to catch your return flight, or fly on to the next leg of your visit to China.
This is just the beginning.
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