Xingping and the Li river

Early in the morning, I went for a stroll in Yangshuo.

A lot of weird art here:

For those who don’t like flowers, florists now sell teddy bear bouquets.

Foreigners waiting for starbucks to open.

Breakfast today was egg custard tarts…

And a yakult-like drink that made its way down the drain.

On the way to the bus for Xingping..

I need a dog as well trained as this one.

Xingping Ancient town:

Moscow nights was playing as I strolled down the path.

After a long and painful queue…

I made it on the boat to Xingping fishing village ⛵

(I was the only teddy bear here, which was a little disconcerting)

The li river was a little underwhelming compared to other places I’ve been to in China.

This is meant to be the nicest part of the river.

It could also be that it wasn’t as nice because of the weather. The scenery is nicely portrayed on the 20 yuan banknote:

After taking a break at the hotel, I went to West street in search of food:

First stop was Roujiamo:

I bought a jar of chilli paste on the way.

Next was spicy roasted potatoes:

Delicious !

If you cross the bridge, you see a show being played right by West street, hidden by water sprinklers and bright lights.

I then discovered another food market with some more adventurous flavours:

Unfortunately, I was full at that point.

Making a present for Chinese lover’s day 💝

Chinese lover’s day, also known as Qixi festival, is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month of the Chinese calendar.


Due to indecisiveness, I didn’t take the river cruise to Yangshao. Instead I took a bus to Guilin South bus station before taking another bus to Yangshao.

At Yangshao, I optimistically expected to come up with some great ideas as to how to enjoy the Li river but as half the day was already gone, a lot of those options were no longer viable.

I settled on visiting Fuli, a small town known for its Chinese painted fans.

I failed to find the bus that went there and so ended up on a small red vehicle truck/car thing.

It was a very bumpy ride.

Essentially there is only 1 street that lives up to its nickname as the hometown of painted fans, which is the town’s Ancient street.

As I wandered around, I stumbled upon an art studio, which provides “make your own fan” sessions – mainly for Western tourists. (Chinese tourists hover around the Western tourists painting with their phone camera in action)

So I had a go. This may not be an “authentic” experience but it was a nice way to spend the afternoon.

The teachers help you practice and give advice before actually painting on the fan.

Once it’s done, they prepare the fan for you:

Finished result !! (Almost)

(They also wrote my name and some other stuff, which I didn’t understand)

I took the bus back to Yangshuo, preciously keeping my fan close to me (They put it in a box, you have to wait for the glue to stick)

Also bought myself some food on the way:

(The brioche with bacon thing tasted good)

Back at the hotel, I took a break with an iced coffee. 😎

I also found a clue as to how it got the reviews it did.

(The hotel isn’t that bad, just not that good either)

I then took a shuttle bus to the San LiuJei light show.

(Sorry, my phone camera isn’t great in night mode)

The show is 1 hour long. Reviews are fairly mixed on it, there’s no story but it was pretty. My favourite review was one where the person said that no matter how much they shushed the audience, people kept talking. This gives quite a funny mental picture of 1 foreigner trying to shush 3000 Chinese tourists. 😂

I liked the show but it is probably best enjoyed by families with relatively young kids.

On the way out, I tried to go souvenir shopping again and bought myself some street food tofu. These are sold everywhere and taste good but are a little spicy.

Found a shop selling live painted turtles…

It started to pour with rain so I went back to the hotel, grabbing a dragon egg-looking pastry on the way.
I have no idea what it was, bought it at a bakery nearby.


I left Dazhai, pouring in the rain and took the first shuttle bus to Guilin.

The road was very narrow, making it somewhat nerve wracking whenever we came across another bus.

At Guilin, it was a short 3km walk to the hotel.

Guilin was overflowing with motorcyclists, who just barely held back from running over people.

At the hotel, I relaxed a bit while doing laundry, desperate to get rid of the sweat.

Today was a rainy day but I still headed off for a quick wall around.

Sun and moon pagoda:

Elephant’s hill:

This is the view from its backside but it’s meant to look like an elephant drinking water.

A restaurant for Sponge Bob fans:

I ate lunch/dinner in a self service restaurant:

(Not sure what it is, the drink was weird but the beans were good)

I then bought some kind of dessert from sweetness cheese. It’s essentially brioche with a sweet butter layer on top. I took shelter from the rain in McDonald’s to eat it:

(Heart attack inducing food)

Robots are also taking over the role of elderly ladies:

The city lights up at night, making it much easier to tell which is the moon and which is the sun pagoda.

The main goal for today was to do souvenir shopping so I passed by the Guilin night market.

Unfortunately I didn’t find anything particularly interesting there. There are a lot of shop stands selling durian.

At 8.30pm, I made my way to the Lijiang waterfall hotel, which showcases an artificial waterfall:

Love from Guangxi 💚


Another nice hotel room view:

For breakfast I was served noodles with warm rice milk and an egg:

(I was quickly bought a fork without having to ask but this doesn’t really help much with noodles 😅)

I headed off, following the picture map of the hotel:

This led me onto the route for the golden Buddha viewing platform:

More stairs 😥

The views are beautiful and worth the effort:

View from Golden Buddha:

Flying eagle:

At this point, I descended the viewpoint and went exploring.

LP is right in that nothing is well signposted here, so exploring is a bit difficult. After a while I realised I could see the path to Ping’an LP mentioned on the offline map (Osmand) and decided to go down there.

I think this is music from paradise viewpoint:

This poor horse was carrying litres of water down the hill.

The path to Ping’an is very well disguised. I would never known there was a path, let alone that it was going to Ping’an, if it wasn’t for the offline map.

It’s not a particularly well defined road.

The path passes through ZhongLiu , which isn’t a particularly attractive village:

Along the way I met some Yao ladies who insisted on me paying to have a picture taken:

These ladies are famous for their long hair, which they wrap around their head.

After a painful 10-15km walk, I saw something resembling the exit.

The road actually goes quite a bit further on before reaching Ping’an.

At Ping’an, I took a taxi back to Dazhai (I would have walked but my flip flops were damaged – bad shoe choices today – I thought it’d be easier than Zhangjiajie)

For some reason the taxi didn’t have a front mirror, instead it had a screen showing a camera recording of the front of the car (rather than the back as I first thought).

The taxi left me at the ticket checking point at Dazhai, instead of to the hotel. On the way into town I noticed that the Yao ladies used their hair in a bonfire show.

This also explains why there is so much noise in the evening.

The path to finding the hotel was tricky. All the buildings around the Longji rice terraces are pretty much the same. It started to rain and I discovered pretty much every area in town.

At the hotel

I ate egg fried rice. I was also given as a token of what I think is rice wine and a unripe peach.

Good night!

P.S. If you do happen to go to see the Longji rice terraces, the best view was at the Golden Buddha. The path to Ping’an from Dazhai is only nice for the first 30 minutes and there were snakes crossing it.

Fenghuang -> Guilin

Good morning! 😊

Before leaving Fenghuang, I went for a quick stroll.

The remains of a Chinese chess game:

Also known as Xiangqi

As I checked out, the manager kindly gave me a packet of something (it was very sweet, seemed to have sesame or ginger in it).

Fenghuang is a town built in the 1700s, and its architecture is representative of the Qing dynasty. Its population consists of a range of ethnic minorities such as Miao, Tujia and Han.

This 5 jiao banknote (which is no longer in circulation since 1999) shows the Miao (left) and Zhuang (right) children.

A lady in traditional Miao costume posed for the camera:

In the bus, 2 Brits became acquainted, at which point I quickly learnt that the person behind me was a “remoaner”. Another fun bus trip.

After a 6 hour bus ride to Guilin, I bought a ticket for Heping, with a taxi expecting me there to take me to the hotel in Dazhai.

Not to bore anyone with the hiccups I experienced along the way, lets just say that I reached my hotel:

Not long after I got my pyjamas on, I heard a knock on the door and I was given a seat for the toilet.

I’ve never actually tried one of these before 🤔


I made it first on the 8am bus to Fenghuang.

As everyone else waited for the bus driver, they proceeded to enjoy breakfast. It seems quite common to eat in public transport here. Some even eating ramen and other smelly foods that would seem impractical for a bus ride.

On the bus ride, a lady started talking and kept on going (all in very fast Chinese).

She then started passing out small packets of food before going back to the front of the bus and kept talking whilst holding up larger packets – which she was successfully selling (The set cost 300 yuan). It was a bit strange as she was also the ticket inspector.

All that to say that this was the opposite of a quiet bus ride.
She then passed her unnecessary microphone (baring in mind that this was a small bus) to another lady who started passing out cards for a hotel and a driver.

When I arrived at Fenghuang, I got desperately lost, causing me to visit the town:

Cultural square:

(Some ladies were singing badly and very loudly into a microphone here)

In China, shoes need hats too.

Crabs on a stick:

Playing cards on the city wall:

South gate:

Little old me started feeling nauseous so after climbing up and down the staircase of the South gate and round in circles (another sweaty day), I took a nap at the hotel, which has a nice terrace view over the old city.

After sunset, Fenghuang becomes a sort of night time attraction park, with lots of bright flashy lights.

People queue to walk on the stepping stones in the river.

And one can ride boats lighten up with Chinese lanterns down the river.

Some cute looking ice creams:

Scattered around town are small shops selling drums

The restaurants keep live animals outside, and not just fish:

(Not a vegan-friendly area)


The town is pretty but seems to have lost authenticity for the sake of tourism, with its empty bars and nightclubs, its never ending souvenir shops and juice bars.


So far it has been a busy week in China and I am keeping up that momentum with another trip to the park.

Before that I want to compliment the wonderful hotel I stayed in. I finally had a good night sleep and the view from my room’s terrace was lovely.

(Hotel MINI has 3 different locations)

In the cable car I said my goodbyes to Yangjiajie.

I took the bus to San Cha Kou.

From here I went to see the celestial bridge

And the Emperor’s throne.

Before going back on my steps to the pecking rooster.

The views there were incredible. Best of all there was just a handful of tourists (it’s not that simple to reach).

Not far is 1 dangerous step viewing point

(Which despite having a better name, was less impressive)

I then followed an abandoned looking path.

Ancient weathering crust:

Another weathering crust + waterfall:

The path ended at a rather unattractive village (offline map says Xiang Da Lu Kou)

Some locals helped me get on the bus to Tianzi Shan stop where I saw at least several hundred people waiting for the bus (found the tourists!)

So while I had been running away from flies and other bugs on an unkept road, everyone else seemed to be invading Tianzishan.

Admittedly the views were pretty here too.

No way of getting through this 🤔

At Yunqing rock, I got shooed away from the edge but not before taking a picture.

Some girls decided to go mountain walking in heels.

Giant tortoise:

(Looks more like a camel to me)

McDonald’s managed to make its way up here.

So I treated myself to an ice cream break:

(The green stuff is green tea syrup)

It seemed like the crowd just gravitates to the viewing platforms with better names.

Imperial writing brush peaks were crowded:

But then The warrior training horses was empty:

(Making for a great ice cream eating spot)

My legs then led me up a steep staircase to the heavenly platform.

With a view of the same peaks as before but on the other side of the valley:

Xihai peak forest:

Further down is the southern heavenly gate.

And the path kept going down (this can get painful on the knees)

At the bottom, I took a bus to leave the park via Wulingyuan entrance.

Wulingyuan is definitely more developed than Yangjiajie (where there is still a lot of construction going on). However, the buildings are all the same (but nicely designed) making it seem a bit inauthentic. Overall I am quite happy with my visit although I am sure I missed a lot (good reason to come back).

Fun fact :

Zhangjiajie is named after the Zhang aristocratic family whilst Yangjiajie is named after the Yang family. Jia = family or home. So essentially walking in Zhang’s (or Yang’s) family homeland.

Skipping forwards in time : coffee and cake sandwich for dinner at E-pino cafe in Zhangjiajie.

And bought some emergency food for tomorrow.


I woke up this morning to the sound of a very loud crowing cockerel.

This morning I had a novel shower experience as I cautiously stood over the ‘toilet’, trying not to fall or touch anything.

The bus to Yangjiajie had a disproportionate amount of security cameras.

It took 2 hours on an increasingly bumpy road to get to the hotel, which was by the entrance of Yangjiajie park.

I left my bag at the hotel before being dropped off at the entrance.

A friendly dog kept me company as I waited for the bus.

Who was later joined by his friend.

In Yangjiajie, I was greeted by a monkey.

I took the cable car up to Huangshi village.

I was a little worried before visiting the park as I had no idea what I was going to do (other than I definitely wanted to be here). The hotel recommended a route and this cable car ride got me all excited again.

The views from Huangshi village are beautiful (fyi there is no village, it’s a mountain top). It was also far less busy than I expected to be.

I came across a family of monkeys.

These 2 babies are getting used to stardom.

Within 30min of arriving, I was quickly accumulating baby monkey pictures.

(But it’s so adorable 😍)

Front garden

5 fingers peak:

6 wonders pagoda:

Ice cream break of the day ! (I think it was grape but it looked like beetroot)

I walked down the mountain, where I quickly started eating the ice cream as it had caught the attention of the monkeys.

Such a disappointed face 😂

And went down the golden whip stream scenic route.

This route wasn’t that interesting but led to other parts of the park.

The medical centre had Soviet flags 🚩

One of these is golden whip peak

Chopped off peak:

(It was split in 2 because of erosion and gravity)

I tried the water from the source of longevity.

It looked clean enough. It’s believed to prolong life and is meant to be full of essential minerals.

After a long and horrific climb up some seemingly never ending stairs, I made it to the back garden.

Just before that were some spectacular views.

It was at the enchanting terrace/heaven pillar that I discovered where all the tourists were in this park.

This monkey did a good job at stopping the flow of people, making it hard to move around.

I think it’s avatars hallelujah mountain (They all look a bit similar).

People were throwing money at this turtle.

And somehow someone can make a business selling goldfish up there.

Just a reminder that behind the pictures is a teddy bear pushing it’s way through people, trying to mind his business and take pictures.

More fighting through the crowd over the world’s greatest natural bridge.

At this point, I was running out of time. The hotel owner said to be a bus station of Huangshi village cableway at 18:00 (imperatively) and that I should go up and down Gold whip stream route.

Instead I optimistically walked up to enchanting terrace (wish I’d known there was an elevator) and so planned to walk all the way down from Yangjiajie cable way after taking the bus there.

Despite running out of time, I did a detour to Wulong village.

Wulong village is not a village. It’s a bunch of fast food restaurants and touristy stuff.

In Wulong village is tianbo mansion.

Tianbo mansion is not a mansion, it’s a viewing platform.

To get there, you need to climb some unconvincing metal ladders. But the views are worth it.

On the way down from Wulong village, I passed by this confusing sign on the path.

The man praying to Buddha:

(I don’t quite see it either)

The sun started to set, causing me to hurry my way downwards.

I finally arrived at the bottom of Yangjiajie cableway a bit in a sweaty mess. As I walked towards the bus stop, I heard a wonderful voice calling out ‘iced coffee!’

At the hotel I treated myself to a delicious and filling meal of zucchini, potatoes, chicken and rice.

(Whilst in turn being eaten by mosquitoes)
晚安! (Wan an) Bonne nuit ! Good night!


Today I was meant to have a guide to take me to Binglang Valley (which LP made sound amazing). But since that idea sunk, I had to find a plan B.

The most obvious plan B was Tianmen mountain but after having watched youtube compilations of panicking tourists, I was a little relunctant (I’ve always had a fear of heights).

But I couldn’t come up with anything else. When I arrived, the cable cars were fully booked so I took the bus.

(This could be a blessing in disguise as the queue for the cable car was horrendous)

This is the world’s longest aerial cable car. It’s 7km long and takes 30min to climb up the mountain.

The bus is quite a fun alternative. It rides up the Heaven-linking avenue, which has 99 bends (with a lot of ‘wooaaa’ and ‘ohhhh’ from the kids on the bus at each bend). See below.

The bus drivers drove very swiftly (maybe a bit too quickly) up the mountain.

The bus stopped in front of the Heavens gate. Tian = sky/heaven. Men = gate.

This cave, also known as heavenly door, is thought to be the first stopping point of the immortals when they go to earth.

Another day sweating as I climbed up the stairs.

The next step was to take the escalator, which is deep within the mountain and takes you to the top.

At the top, I started by walking down the East line.

First skywalk of the day.

It doesn’t show very well on the picture but you can see all the way down the cliff.

The views were incredible though.

The East line cliffwalk is 3.7km long and 1km high.

Lunch break:

I reached Tianmenshan temple, a large Buddhist temple.

This building had the Sakyamuni Buddha in it but it felt awkward taking pictures inside as monks seemed to be telling people’s fortunes.

Outside are little ponds with a mini gold fish version of Wulingyuan Scenic Area (aka Zhangjiajie).

A dumpling falls prey to the little fish.

I’m sure these 2 people are important.

Blueberry ice cream break !

A Chinese version of a bridge in Paris.

The suspension bridge was terrifying, it kept moving and creeping.

Some people were very brave.

Guigu practiced flying and tree walking at this crack in the mountain.

A poor puppy was dragged up here.

In the forest of wishes:

(I hope that the 5 yuan fee includes not chopping off the branch I placed it on)

The west skyglass walk felt scarier than the East one.


I climbed up to the top of mountain, which has a catchy name: cloudy and dreamlike fairy mountaintop

On the way down (bus), I booked my hotel. The goal was to find something more affordable and better located than last night.

If you pay cheap…. you get cheap….

(I think the chair has been a dog’s chew toy, the walls are covered in stains, the road outside was quite noisy and the bathroom is .. rudimentary? – but at least there is air con 😅)

I went to the nicest looking cafe I could see and grabbed an iced coffee with my new friend.

Another Chinese food shopping haul: grape fanta, sweet bread and a cheaper version of KitKat. I also grabbed a face mask since my skin has been rebelling since I left Beijing.
Also sanitizing wipes (just in case).

On route to Zhangjiajie

Before taking the bus to Hengshan West station, I visited Nanyue Temple.

Nanyue is a large, and very popular, Taoist and Buddhist temple. It is opposite the entrance to Hengshan scenic route.

In China, tortoises are a symbol of longevity, wisdom and peace. It is also one of the 4 sacred animals, representing the North and winter.

In Taoism, the tortoise supports the weight of Heaven. Its shell represents the Heaven whilst the underside is Earth. It is therefore the animal that has supported the universe since the beginning of the creation.

The children were very excited by the turtles swimming around. (Turtles have shorter lifespans and therefore don’t represent longevity)

All the shops, restaurants and hotels were selling incense in Hengshan.

Hunan region is known for its spicy food.

The hotel lady kindly gave me a red date yoghurt as a parting gift, which I treated myself to on the bus.

Lituo bus station:

A statue of Mao decorates the security check point.

I took a small snack whilst waiting for the bus.

There aren’t any alternatives other than taking the bus if leaving in the afternoon from Changsha. For some reasons the trains only leave in the morning or in the evening, which is a shame as the bus’ A/C wasn’t working great in the 30+°C heat.

After 4 hours of sitting in a bus full of increasingly upset Chinese people (The bus was running 1 hour late), I finally started to see mountains.

Sunset view through the dirty bus window:

I eventually arrived at Zhangjiajie.

Speed walking across the bridge to the hotel.

There was a mishap in the booking (ie. They completely forgot about me) so my plans changed and I ended up in a slightly more spacious (and more expensive) room then planned.

I noticed this ice cream place on the way to the hotel. I wasn’t really sure what I was ordering and instead of ice cream, I ended up with bubble tea. 😅

The smell of this small restaurant attracted me. I pointed at the picture of fried food cuz that was something I thought I could handle easily but then I got served the ramen that was in the picture next to it.

Another chopstick challenge! (Super cheap though, 13 yuan)

There was pretty much everything in there. Slices of tomato, mushrooms, tofu skin (maybe), sausage, cabbage, chilli, egg…

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