Li River Cruise (Guilin, China)

The Li River Cruise is where you see some of the most famous sites in Guilin, including the famous shot of Guilin that is featured on the 20 RMB bill. Don’t know why they picked that spot in particular, though, because almost the entire trip down was gorgeous!

Meet up in Guilin (China)

Traveler meetup with Gisel! Met in India when we both first set off on our respective trips, partied together in her home country of Portugal, and somehow found ourselves in the same city by coincidence in China. 😊 I was sadly not as good of a host because I was new to Guilin too, so I took us to a shady literal hole-in-the-wall where the bowls were covered in plastic bags. I paid for the meal and said she could pay for the bubble tea, but that turned out to be twice the cost of the meal. Did not think this through…

Still, super glad to see you and all the best on your upcoming trips! Wonder where in the world we’ll meet up next!

Longji rice terraces (Guilin, China)

The Longji (Dragon’s Backbone) rice terraces, so called because the rice terraces look like scales on the back of a windy mountainous dragon. They are incredible feats of engineering, consisting of mud wall dams, canals, and sometimes even bamboo pipes to move the water where it needs to go.

Maintaining and farming rice terraces is backbreaking work. Work that locals are increasingly turning away from now that other opportunities in the cities or in tourism are available. But without the rice terraces, there is no tourism. So according to our guide, local farmers are paid an additional monthly income as an incentive to continue farming. Even with that, however, some of the terraces are noticeably deteriorating and the younger generation prefers less labor-intensive work.

Save Taiwan (Guangxi, China)

Seen high up in a village in Guangxi: “We must liberate Taiwan.” Seems like a weird, out-of-place issue for villagers so far inland to be concerned with. I also wonder if anyone’s given them any Taiwan updates in the last 70 years…

Elderly recreation center (Guangxi, China)

Elderly Recreation Center

Gaoyou is a Dong village known for longevity. There is a sizeable group of men in their 70s, 80s, and even 90s. Not unusual throughout China, but quite a feat out in the countryside where hard labor is the norm and medical services are not readily available.

In the center of the village is an old traditional building labeled the Elderly Recreation Center. My grandpa, who’s going on 90 himself, was beckoned in by one of the old men inside, and the rest of us tagged along. They told us their ages, invited us to eat fruit, and agreed to a picture.

Just like the men, the building was aged. Whereas the drum towers and other buildings we saw were often newly-built in the traditional STYLE, this was a real traditional building. No nails, blackened poles, and far more intricate than anything they bothered to build starting about 100 years ago. Very fitting for the Elderly Recreation Center.

One thing that I couldn’t help but notice was that there were no women. Presumably the village should have a lot of long-living women too, especially because women live longer on average. But, the guide explained, it’s a patriarchal society, so only the old men are highlighted. Another explanation could be that, while the old men are here recreating, the old women are the ones still working the land and taking care of the grandchildren. No wonder why these men can live so long!

Zhaoxing chorus performance (Guangxi, China)

The Dong ethnic group is known for its ability to sing in chorus without a conductor. This skill is put on display via a public performance every morning in Zhaoxing.

This particular morning, we were treated to another kind of entertainment: a Chinese tourist so keen on documenting the performance that she basically became part of it. In the middle of songs, she frequently strode up to the stage and posed for photos. You had to look at her even if you didn’t want to. Well, since she was posing so nicely, thought I might as well snap a photo!