Karst Cliffs and Rice Terraces

After staying in Hong Kong, a very Western version of China, we now wanted to see how the true “Middle Kingdom” looks. First we went to the mainland and when changing trains at the first station we had to realize that China is different. Nothing was written in English and we did not understand one person, and they did not understand us either. In addition, we had not even a guide book. So true backpacking!
After we had finally explain the train ticket seller with much effort and self-painted Chinese characters where we wanted to go, we arrived in Zhaoqing, which should serve as a stopover on our way to the Guanxi region. Here we felt instantly super comfortable. The food was delicious, the city was extremely clean, the people incredibly friendly and there was a nice park nearby to explore.

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After three days of relaxing we went to Yangshuo where we wanted to help out in an English-language school. The work was,unfortunately, quite limited, and so we had much time to wander through the pretty little town. Especially we liked to stay in the city park, where many people did Tai Chi, couple dance, kung fu, music, singing, badminton or card games. This wonderfully harmonious coexistence of people was very intriguing. Yangshuo also attracts numerous tourists every day because of its beautiful surroundings with many cliffs and caves. The cloudy weather, however, spoiled us our bike tours and we only got a glimpse of the impressive landscape.

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After our time in Yangshuo, we marveled at another highlight of the Guanxi province, the Longji rice terraces. In this region three tribes live together peacefully, which by 1300 A.D. had fled into the mountains and built the rice terraces there. Now their beautiful wooden houses decorate the slopes. Unfortunately, the weather gods still not thought well of us, so we spent several days in a super small, friendly and welcoming village. There the traditional clothes are still worn, even during their work in the fields. Also quite famous is the bottom-length hair of the local women, which they wash in the river every day. We marveled at this, but only secretly.

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After the wonderful time in Guanxi we continued the long journey to the province of Yunnan. Here we visited the towns of Dali and Lijiang , with their unique and well preserved but also very touristy Old Towns. And what “touristy” means in a 1.5-billion-country, you can surely imagine. But the atmosphere of the ancient Chinese cities could not be destroyed even by the loudest tour guides.

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From Lijiang, we visited the park, “Black Dragon Pool” and the spectacular Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the deepest gorges in the world. During an exhausting but unforgettable two-days hike at about 3000 meters altitude we had a fantastic view of the Yangtze River raging through the narrow gorge. At the end of the gorge, we jumped in a bus heading north which brought us deep in the foothills of the Himalayas and into the Tibetan culture.

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