Sunday, August 15, 2010

Guilin, Longji Terraces, Yangshuo, and End of Trip in Hong Kong

After spending several days in the Shanghai and Hangzhou area, we took a flight down to Guilin. I had previously been to that area before, but when I was there the weather was not very good and a lot of the views weren't as good as they normally are supposed to be. There is also a lot to do in the Guilin and Yangshuo area, so it is a good place to spend a few days.

The first day in Guilin, we were planning to head out to the Longji rice terraces, but there were torrential downpours in Guilin city. Everyone was telling us that if we went to the terraces, we wouldn't be able to see anything since they're up in the mountains and it would be foggy there. The last time I had tried to see the terraces, it was also rainy and foggy, so at first I was pretty disappointed I would miss it again. However, after some discussion, we decided to just roll the dice and go out to the terraces. Luckily enough, as soon as we started driving, we got outside the heavy rain and things cleared up more and more the closer we got. The views at the terraces ended up being really beautiful. 

Since it was still spring time, the views we had were of a near infinite series of water pools reflecting on the sides of the hills. All four seasons have distinct views on the terraces: spring has the water pools, summer has the green rice plants, fall has the yellow color of rice ready to harvest, and winter has the all white look of snow covered terraces. Maybe someday I'll have a chance to see them all.

Longji Village

Longji Village

Phil, Chris, and Derek Walking on Terraces

Terrace Covered Hills

Terraced Hillside

Wes on the Terraces

Repairing Terraces

Valley of Terraces and Villages

More Vertical View of Valley

Lone Worker on Terraces

After the day trip to the rice terraces, we headed south to Yangshuo. I have previously been to Yangshuo, but it's one of my favorite places in China and incredibly scenic, so I didn't mind going back there. We spent a day biking along the Yulong River, where there are nonstop karst mountains, rice paddies, and river views. 

Wes Getting Ready for a Day of Biking

Karst Mountains and Rice Paddies

Yulong River

Farmer in Rice Paddy

Yangshuo Scenery

Shaky Video on Bike Ride

We also rode our bikes out to Moon Hill and took a hike to the top. From the top, there are great 360 degree panoramic views of the whole area. It is really beautiful and worth the steep hike.

Moon Hill

Phil, Wes, Chris, and Derek at Moon Hill

Valley from Moon Hill

View from Moon Hill

Besides biking around in the countryside outside of the city, you can spend some time within the city of Yangshuo itself. The views from even the rooftop of our hostel were amazing. The main West Street area, although it's a bit touristy, is fun to spend some time in as well.

West Street

Canal Side Cafe

View from Hostel

View from Hostel

Night View from Hostel

Late Night Street Barbecue near West Street

On our last day in Yangshuo, we took a cruise on a bamboo boat down the Li Jiang or Li River. It's one of the most famous sites of China and a really beautiful stretch of mountains and river.

Wes on Cruise

Li River

The Boys Cruisin

Li River

After our time in Yangshuo, we went back to Guilin to take a night train down to Shenzhen and eventually cross the border to Hong Kong. Derek had to leave, so it just left three of us. Hong Kong is always a great place to visit and we were excited to get down there. Chris had very kindly used some of his hotel points to book us a room with an amazing view and rooftop pool at the W Hotel. We only had a single day and night in Hong Kong, so we couldn't see too much. It was also raining pretty hard throughout the afternoon and early evening, but we made the most of it. We also met up with some fellow Northwestern alums and ate a great dinner at a Korean barbecue.

W Hotel Room

View of Busy Harbor from Hotel Room

Infinity Pool on W Hotel Rooftop

Hong Kong Skyline at Night

Hong Kong was the end of the China trip and after our time there, Chris had to head back to the US, whereas it was time for Phil and I to start the Southeast Asia part of our trip. Stay tuned for the next leg of the trip: Singapore!

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