2010 was the year of China, a country that has always intrigued me and made me angry for obvious political reasons and blah … blah …. In any case it was impossible for me to resist the charm of a country with a so huge and ancient history.
First of all, to go to China you need a visa, which can be obtained in about a week in Milan, while Hong Kong doesn’t need any.
Of course I could never see such a large country in a satisfactory manner without spending a lot of money on air travels, then, despite the month at my disposal, I decided to focus on a particular area: the south. The itinerary planned to land in Hong Kong and then move west in the direction of Myanmar and Tibet, through a very less travelled rural area, stopping in several major cities previously identified. As always, we only booked the flight tickets, leaving the route open to any improvisation. The default trip was: Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Guilin, Yangshou, Kunmin, Lijang, Shangri-La and finally Sanya.
I had been to Hong Kong in a previous trip and I liked it, but this time, perhaps spending more time, I realized how interesting it is, this truly modern metropolis with skyscrapers and incredible shopping malls, but at the same time changing neighborhood you can meet lots of crowded markets selling everything, from which you can enjoy an appetizer of China, ah .. Hong Kong has nothing to do with China! In all senses!
Besides the usual roaming around the streets of each neighborhood, we went to see All of Fame, where you can see the footprints of the biggest actors in Hong Kong including the statue of Bruce Lee, but also a spectacular view of the bay with all skyscrapers as a backdrop.
Incidentally, following strange people dressed with furry ears and a samurai swords, we ended up at the Expo, where It was held the ‘Ani-Com & Games in Hong Kong, an exhibition on cartoons and games where there were many enthusiasts Cosplay posing for pictures dressed as cartoon characters…. C’mon my Camera!!!
Another great experience was to climb to the peak. Hong Kong is made up of islands that are surrounded by green hills from which you can enjoy an excellent view, looking out the window of the plane before landing you can see how this effect gives very peculiar morphology. Anyway once on the peak, I placed the camera on a tripod and setting up a shot every 30 seconds, I had a good time lapse of sunset over the city that you can see on this blog, even if I could post it only in low resolution.
Finally, to please also women, I can confirm that Hong Kong is the reign of shopping, among many shopping centers and markets, you can spend everything you have!
From Hong Kong we need a few hours trip by train to get to Guangzhou, or rather once known as Canton, the capital of Guangdong Province, capital of industrial China with 10 million inhabitants, a village! 😉 We stopped for a couple of days. Here you can buy just about anything at good prices, and being an industrial city, there is little tourism, in fact I have not met many Westerners.
From Guangzhou we take the overnight train to Guilin (about 9 hours), good luck in buying the ticket at the station (outside of Hong Kong English is spoken little) as you can imagine, it was really crowded because the Chinese move especially with the trains. The trip was pleasant, the berth from 4 with me and Sandro and two young Chinese returning home, the meal in the dining car was delicious even though we had to order food pointing to the other tables, we were able to get some Mifan (rice) and meat accompanied by a couple of beers, if you are a little ‘fussy’ you should bring your food.
We get to Guilin in the early morning and after we left the backpack at the hostel, we started a random exploration around of the city, even if the city has only 1 million and 400 thousand inhabitants.
Guilin is located in the Guangxi region and is known to be surrounded by the peaks of the karstic rock overhang and the river that runs through it, it’s a very nice city but nothing more, I recommend a walk in the evening around the river is very well lit and offers a very nice show.
Another thing I remember was the pool of Guilin: since in this period there is 99% humidity, we started sweating after few steps, so we found a pool where we could freshen up before dinner and stop sweating for a couple of hours! Meanwhile, the third and final member of the group joined: Giaco.
From Guilin we tried to make an organized trip by a guy who we met on the first day on the road, he began speaking to us in English (well it was a risk, but I prefer to avoid the agencies if I can), so we went to see terraced formations called “the backbone dragon.” Pleasant ride, hike with 100% humidity, characteristic lunch and very beautiful landscape, we also met some nice people (perhaps the only reason why we buy these “package tour”), I suggest it.
Finally we left Guilin to Yangshuo on a bamboo raft down the Li River, I suggest it strongly because the landscape is very beautiful, perhaps avoid a rainy day even if in August get ready to take plenty of water.
Yangshuo is a nice little tourist town, also international tourism, especially backpackers, then you will find a very concentrated area where are crowded hostels, guesthouses, restaurants, bars, shops, creating a concentration of tourism typical of other of Southeast Asia areas, see Thailand. Yangshuo is also surrounded by karst rocks that make it unique in terms of landscape, much better than Guilin, the rocks are illuminated at night and creates a nice effect that surrounds the city.
I highly recommend the experience as rent electric scooters to go and see the Silver Caves, a 20 km from the village, the caves are worth because they are a fantastic show, well lit and well organized, but equally unique is the journey to reach them, through the Chinese countryside and villages on board a silent motor (it seemed to go by bike) with the freedom of being able to stop, whenever we wanted, to see scenes of daily life such as farmers working the land and we were able to take pictures at will .
A must, in my opinion is “Sanji Impression Liu,” a show of lights, dancing and singing, with more than 500 performers and the background of the fantastic nature, unique landscape of the river and mountains beyond. Impossible to describe, I only remember that he was delighted for 1 hour, absolutely deserves to be seen, if I remember correctly there are two shows every night and based on your disposable of money you can choose several options for seating.
Next stop, the capital of Yunnan, Kunming …. (follow the second part)…