One of the fantastic things about living in China is the opportunity to explore and experience the different provinces and cities and all which make up the rich tapestry of China. Last week I took a short holiday to Yunnan Province, the place which provided my first taste of China. It may sound surprising but sometimes life in China can become a bit routine and travelling can help to remind you what an epically beautiful and fascinating country we live, intern in or are planning to come to!
After a short flight to Lijiang, a city, which was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1997 but has now grown to one of China’s top domestic tourism hubs and an example of how the old way or life (is albeit a little artificially) be preserved, I was already feeling relaxed and the high altitude, blue skies and clean air was wonderful! Lijiang itself is worth a visit and most people either love or hate it. Some will say it’s touristy and tacky while others see it as a relaxing place to chill out, experience local Naxi culture and acclimatize before tackling Tiger Leaping Gorge. This was where I was heading.
The next day, around 2 hours away from Lijiang, we travelled to the start of the Tiger Leaping Gorge trail and as you will see from my pictures – some pretty spectacular scenery. On the way out of Lijiang I noticed the dirt and bumpy road I took two years ago was now a glistening newly paved road – I was a little worried given the Gorge would be packed with tourists but thankfully the area remains reasonably quiet and serene.
There are two routes through the gorge – the high trail; a two day hike, a couple of awesome villages and hostels in between and the low road trail; a windy, scary road through the gorge and mostly full of day tripping Chinese tourists. I think you know which one I chose!
The hike itself, with 28 bends, waterfall crossings, sheer drops, tough climbs and temperatures pushing 30c was not easy! The first day was almost entirely uphill with a brief lunch before finally reaching the Half Way Guest House (home for the night) good food, a beer and sunset over Yulong Mountain greeted us so all in all it was pretty worthwhile.
If the first day was special the second day was mind-blowing, the scenery gets even better and we crossed waterfalls before hiking down for lunch and then all the way to the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge stone with a shaky ladder to climb on the side of the cliff and rapids below it has to be a time where health and safety is a little bit out the window but adrenaline kicks in!
The gorge (Hǔtiào Xiá), one of the deepest in the world, measures 16km long and is a giddy 3900m from the waters of Jinsha River (Jīnshā Jiāng) to the snow-capped mountaintops of Hābā Shān (Haba Mountain) to the west and Yùlóng Xuěshān to the east. (Lonely Planet, 2014) With all the development in China sometimes it’s nice to see that even the skyscapers now going up all over Chengdu are no match for this natural wonder.
Now back at work, it all seems a little like a dream and is well in truly at the top of my list of things you can’t miss in China and it’s only 1 hour by plane from Chengdu!
Apply now for an internship and experience other parts of China that are only a short flight away!
This weekend’s trip to YangShuo consisted of a legend of a tour guide, a missing wallet, a damaged phone and passport, some sort of binoculars device and several outrageously hung-over interns. The 8 hour bus journey each way was not enough to put of the 16 interns whose perseverance was rewarded with a great weekend away.
We set of on Friday night, where we shared a bus with local Chinese people who were keen to interact with ‘foreigners’ and get to know us despite the language barrier. There we were first greeted by a tour guide who was a pivotal figure through-out the trip. Although he did not speak too much English, his facial gestures and enthusiastic attitude was infectious enough to make everyone fall in love with him. By getting people to stand up, make a speech and sing to the audience, he helped make the bus journey go a little bit quicker.
We eventually arrived in YangShuo at 6.30 in the morning which meant there was so much room for activities! After breakfast we set off on a boat ride along the beautiful LiJiang River where we saw the famous mountains that can be seen on the 20yuan RMB note.
After we had taken enough pictures and enjoyed the wildlife including water buffalos and a never ending line of ducks we took a bus to the Yinzi Cave. This scenic cave was made up of impressive sights including a deep underground river and waterfalls that made it distinctive to any other cave in the world.
After the cave visit we settled down to some traditional Chinese cuisine before heading out on different activities. The first group set off to explore YangShuo further and by hiring scooters, they were able to go off-road to hidden, undiscovered areas. This allowed close up pictures of the local sights to be taken and everyone who was a part of it thoroughly enjoyed it.
The other group went on to butterfly spring, another scenic cave trip and got to see a Chinese show where singing and dancing in colourful costumes commenced. As the day drew to a close, we arrived at our hotel and got ready to explore the YangShuo nightlife. We set of for dinner at 7pm and the drinking began. We were provided by San Hua a Chinese spirit that was shared between both interns and locals. This helped top of a great day with an equally eventful night. The night involved Philippe leading us on a failed search for waffles, drinking and dancing in some of the local bars and Max jumping in a river with his passport and phone.
Sunday morning therefore started with a few sore heads and Joe moaning about how he had lost his wallet and his English rail card. There was no time to nurse a hang-over as we quickly went off to the Yulong River to partake in some bamboo-rafting. This could have been the perfect opportunity to sit back, relax and get some peace but it did not turn out that way. Our favourite tour guide urged everyone to buy water guns which turned into a big water battle between rival rafts. Once you were out of sight of the other rafts, there were chances to get food and beer without getting out of the water which was pretty pleasing. After we were back on land we headed to a restaurant to get some duck soup before heading back to Zhuhai.
Overall our trip to Yangshuo has to go down as a success and is a place that is definitely worth a visit. A big thanks to everyone for coming and hope to see you on the next trip.