Asia 2010 China

Chills and Caves

Well it’s cold here…really, really cold, which is kind of amazing since I’m only about 65km north of Yangshuo. In fact, I’m wearing the exact same number of clothes I wore when I left wintry New York a week and a half ago! Let’s just say I’m really not a fan at all.

I’m also really not so big on Guilin. Despite all the hype, I don’t find there to be an awful lot of special things here. The scenery is second, no, third-rate and everything requires an increasingly hefty entrance fee, leaving you with a feeling that the attractions really aren’t worth it.

Being here for what I already decided would be my only full day, I simply had to accomplish something. So I headed across the Li River to see what Lonely Planet described as Guilin’s star attraction…the Seven Star Scenic Area (entrance fee RMB 35 or US$5). A massive 297 acre  landscaped park, Seven Star Scenic Area is so named for the seven peaks it features.

Crossing the flower bridge into the park leads you to a series of paths leading to its sights: a “stone forest” with its engraves cliffs, a Buddhist temple, waterfalls, many viewpoints, lakes, monkeys, a zoo, the aptly named Camel Hill and a cave.

While the park certainly was pretty, another word came to mind…kitsch. The waterfalls were man-made. There were a plethora of opportunities to put on tribal clothing and have yourself photographed flanked by peacocks. Even the lakes appeared to be man-made.

Since I was there, I decided to shell out the even heftier entrance fee (RMB 60 or US$9) for the Seven Stars Cave. The ticket included a mandatory hour-long guided tour (in Chinese only, of course) which included numerous stops within the cave for shopping or having a professional take your photo.

The Chinese (like the Vietnamese) like their caves illuminated in a whole rainbow of colors, which created a fairly dramatic and pretty appearance (though a tad kitschy).

After the park, I am of the opinion that I have seen enough of Guilin. Sure, there are other caves here and a few other peaks bearing look-out points, but I kinda feel like once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. So tomorrow afternoon I will head about 90km north to my next destination…Longshen, home of the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces.

From here my trip takes a turn off the basic tourist trail for a little while. Should be interesting to see what I encounter!

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By Aaron

Hey there! I'm Aaron and this is my travel site, where I document my adventures to all corners of the world. My love for travel started at the ripe old age of four, when a midlife crisis uprooted my family to Ecuador for five years. Since then, I've been to countries on 4 different continents. When I'm not blissfully on the road, I reside in New York City, where I become the ultimate travel junkie and spend my days dreaming up my next great adventure! Read More...

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