domingo, 29 de septiembre de 2013

Journey into the East

Ohhhh, now I regret having called the former post “The Real China”! Isn’t this the true China?! This deep, rural, traditional China, isn’t it the real deal?! Well, this is definitely the country side of China, the other face of one of the world’s most developed and powerful countries, but it isn’t an accurate portrait. This lacks all kind of modernity. Actually the night we spent in Xingping, a tiny little village on the bank of the Li River, was the first night I spent in a long time without access to electricity. No electricity in the restaurants for cooking, no air-con in our hostel room, no wi-fi connection, no nothing that resembled even a bit the innovative and huge Chinese cities that we left behind. Can you imagine going back to live without that kind of commodities?! Well, in the deep China, with any occidental around, that is still possible. I guess that it doesn’t happen every day (or at least so we were told by the girls of This Old Place International Hostel in Xingping while they put their best smiles – which we could barely see - trying to excuse this lack of electricity), but it turned our experience even more pure.

Actually Zhangjiajie, Feng Huang, Guilin and Xingping were pretty awesome. By then we were already completely used to the eastern toilets, to the dangerous driving and to the food, so it was all about relaxing. In Zhangjiajie we hiked around the Tianmen Mountain and the floating mountains of the Tianzi Natural Reserve (the one and only that inspired James Cameron for the creation of his Avatar mountains) for 3 days. In the beautiful and almost Venetian Feng Huang we spent a warm night and the following day, enjoying the relative peacefulness of this village that is considered one of the oldest in the world. This characteristic makes Feng Huang one of the top tourist destinations in China, but not for western people. While in Zhangjiajie we still bumped into a couple of fellow Europeans and some Americans, in here we were the only non-slit-eyed people. It was indeed full of Chinese tourist but there was not even one occidental to be seen. So, as well as the village itself, that day, we were the other major attraction. So funny!

We left Feng Huang with an afternoon/night bus (in which we travelled for 10 hours laid on a kind of bunker bed made in Chinese people sizes – dear readers, I’m sure that anything you might be picturing in your heads right now doesn’t make justice to that bus) to Guilin, where we spent the next 3 days visiting the area. First the rice terraces of Longji, then we did the Li River circuit (not until the end though, we left much earlier than our fellow international tourist and walked along the slippery river bank until Xingping, where we saw the most gorgeous sunset and spent a lightless night) on the fake bamboo canoes and, in the last day, we rest… Well, not quite, but it wasn’t as intense as the previous days/weeks. The “high” (adrenaline wise) moments of this last day in the Guilin province were those when our (this time around) true bamboo canoe, wisely conducted by our conductor/guide/funny Chinese man, crossed the water draftings in the Yulong River near Yangshuo. These were the perfect last couple of days in the "real" China before we head to Honk Kong!

And also to see more pictures (taken from me, but without the LOMO fish eye), please check here.

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