A place that will let you fall in love with China: Mysterious Guilin and Yangshuo
by Katya Trubnikova who has been living in China for more than 7 years
When an ordinary tourist comes to China, generally he or she starts from the capital Beijing or modern megalopolis Shanghai. Of course, there are plenty of world famous attractions to see in these two cities, but I still think it is a mistake to visit only these big cities. You should definitely go further to discover the best of China.
I have travelled to many countries before, but my heart was only captured by1 unique sceneries of China. Picturesque valleys, rice fields and peculiar ‘space’ mountains and rivers are filled with mystery and authentic Asian atmosphere. They cannot be compared to any other places in the world.
However, some of these places are not so easy to reach without a guide or a local Chinese friend, because international tourism service in some of these places is still in the process of developing, the majority of the people who live in rural areas and small cities do not speak English. It was very lucky for me to study in China and I had plenty of opportunities to travel across the country with all my family and my future husband who was guiding us.
So in this article I am not going to tell you about famous tourist attractions in big cities of China, but we will directly move on to the natural wonders of China, that will never disappoint you! I would suggest you to spend several days in Beijing or Shanghai for visiting famous historical sites such as The Great Wall2, Tian’anmen Square and The Bund, and then move on to other more natural attractions in the south of China to see something unforgettable.
“Picturesque valleys, rice fields and peculiar ‘space’ mountains and rivers are filled with mystery and authentic Asian atmosphere. They cannot be compared to any other places in the world”
Guilin and Yangshuo
One of my favorite places is village Yangshuo close to Guilin, which scenery reminds me of other planets… That is why it was one of the locations scouted for4 Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Yangshuo is a magnet for backpackers5 from all over the world, because of its marvelous nature, karst mountains and caves and laid-back atmosphere6.
Back to 2012 I visited this place when I first came to China, as an exchange student between Qingdao technological University and VSU. After the end of that semester, my mom and her friends came to join me for a trip to the south of China. I also invited another 2 of my classmates to join us, but one of them decided not to go, because the distance was huge and we didn’t manage to buy sleeping couch tickets due to high demand. Nevertheless, we made up our minds7 not to give up and challenged ourselves with a 31-hour ride on the train with only hard seats.
A leisurely trip on bamboo raft on the Li River
Peculiar 'space' mountains of Yangshuo
It was an exhausting and unforgettable night but our destination was worth it.
While we were watching peculiar mountain peaks appearing in the window, my friend Lena started a conversation with a young Chinese boy. Lena explained to him that we were going to Yangshuo village famous for it’s unique beauty. The boy was very nice and friendly and he told us there is a way to save money by taking a local bus instead of an overpriced excursion bus for tourists. He even called his friends who lived in Guilin and asked them to meet us at the train station and lead us to this cheap local bus.
So when we arrived, two young boys were waiting us on the platform with the biggest smiles on their faces, proud of being guides for the foreigners. At that time in 2012 there were not as many foreigners as now in China, it seems like everyone was trying to get close to us, take picture with us. People’s attention was all on us especially in small cities and villages. After several days we were tired of this attention and being asked to take photos every now and then.
However, today I remember these moments with a smile, because nowadays there are thousands of foreigners coming to China from all over the world to work or study. As a result, Chinese people do not pay as much attention to them as before.
Don’t worry, if you come to China maybe in some rural areas you can still be very popular! So don’t be shy when you need help, try to communicate with Chinese local people. They will try to help you even if they don’t understand your language.
When we managed to get to Yangshuo, we started to explore this alien-like8 mountains and landscape. Yangshuo is also famous for its peculiar rocks, people from all over the world come here to have a unique experience of rock-climbing. Here is the famous Moon Hill, the most attractive natural rock climbing site in Yangshuo. And of course we visited the famous scenery printed on the 20 Yuan RMB banknote.
There you can also see the Intangible9 Culture Heritage10, cormorant fishing11, an ancient tradition with deep roots in China, Japan, and Korea. The technique is typically practiced in rivers, with fisherman training their birds to catch fish in their throat and bring them back to the boat. Now, there are only a few cormorant fisherman left in Yangshuo, and most of them practice it for tourism purposes.
Yangshuo also makes a good base to take a leisurely trip on bamboo raft on the Li River. Imagine yourself floating on the raft, watching this unique scenery: green fluffy peaks, fishers using trained birds to catch fish and farmers toiling in their fields.
We were deeply enjoying this memorable moment and all of us jumped into the water. Later that evening I read a guide book about this place and was astonished to learn that there can be crocodiles in these rivers… Thanks God we didn’t meet them.Besides this, Yangshuo is very abundant12 in tropical fruits, some of them you can only find in China, e.g., yangmei, litchi, jack fruit, rambutan and mangostin.
To sum up, I believe all of these things are enough for you to fall in love with China, what do you think?
If you are not sure yet, please wait for my next article about Zhangjiajie mountains — the inspiration for American blockbuster Avatar. Or you can go to China and see it with your own eyes. I promise it will not disappoint you!
Tips for travellers
• You can buy cheap tickets to China on Skyscanner.ru and domestic flight on Trip.com, but do it in advance.
• Or you can travel by train, the cheapest way which helps you to save not only your money but also time, if you travel at night (Trip.com).
• Download some offline maps like Maps.me or others, because Google maps and many other websites are blocked in China.
• For convenience and I would also advise you to find some tourist group to join or ask your Chinese friends to travel together to see more hard-to-reach13 places.
• Or I can help you as an instructor-guide to work out an interesting route and will show the places that will correspond to your desires and budget.
Work and Travel in China
• Position 1: English language teacher (in a language center)
• Location: China, Shandong province, Qingdao city
• Students: 3-12 year old, around 10 students/class
• Time: 25 teaching hours plus 15 office hours, Monday and Tuesday off
• Position 2: kindergarten English language teacher
• Location: China, Shandong province, Qingdao city
• Students: 3-6 year old, around 10-15 in the class
• Time: 8: 00 – 17: 00 Mon-Fri
Salary: 100.000 – 150.000 rub/ month
• Requirements: fluent in English, clear accent, more than 2 years teaching experience.
• Contact: vk.com/tru_kate Kate.firstname.lastname@example.org
1. captured (by) – захвачен, увлечен
2. The Great Wall – Великая Стена (Китая)
3. unforgettable [ˌʌnfə’getəbl] – незабываемый
4. scout (for) – разыскивать, расследовать
5. magnet for backpackers – магнит для бэкпекеров
6. laid-back atmosphere – непринужденная атмосфера
7. make up (one’s) mind – принять решение
8. alien-like [‘eɪlɪən laɪk] – неземной
9. intangible [ɪn’tænʤəbl] – неосязаемый
10. heritage [‘herɪtɪʤ] – наследие
11. cormorant [‘kɔːm(ə)rənt] fishing – рыбалка с бакланами
12. abundant [ə’bʌndənt] – обильный
13. hard-to-reach [ˌhɑːdtə’riːʧ] – труднодоступный