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GUILIN - CHINA

 
   

Guilin is the center of a tourist industry with popular cruises on the Li jang River and visits to the remarkable limestone formations and caves. The name means cassia tree forest - the cassia is also called osmanthus a fragrant blossoming tree. The town was founded far back in history, in 214 B C, during the reign of Qin Shi Hungdi, the first emperor (whose capital and terra cotta soldiers we found far to the north). It was built as part of the emperor's huge canal building enterprise. Sections of the canal still exist. We visited in spring, the best time as it gets very hot and humid in summer. The town and region have been places of refuge for people escaping northern invaders from the Manchus to the Japanese. The town was fortified by the Tang Dynasty and the Ming Dynasty made it a capital briefly, but nothing remains due to large-scale destruction from Japanese in 1944.
As a famous and popular tourist destination the city is famous for its high prices and scam operators. But we encountered none of that. There are many landmarks within the city such as the Xiangbi Shan (Elephant Trunk Hill) and Duxiu Feng (Peak of Solitary Beauty) and Fubo Shan (named for a Han general).

 
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The group gathers in the modern Guilin airport

 
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View of the Guilin airport as we reach our bus.

 
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View out the bus window on the drive into Guilin - now we are definately in humid south China.

 
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More rice paddies as we approach Guilin

 
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Every inch of bottom land is cultivated in rice, but there are many hills and even mountains around the city.

 
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The entrance to the Lijiang Waterfall Hotel

 
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The entrance to the Lijiang Waterfall Hotel in Guilin.

 
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The multi-story atrium with high speed elevators inside the Lijiang Waterfall Hotel

 
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The multi-story atrium with a large decorative wall inside the Lijiang Waterfall Hotel

 
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The multi-story atrium with a large decorative wall inside the Lijiang Waterfall Hotel

 
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The multi-story atrium with a large decorative wall inside the Lijiang Waterfall Hotel

 
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A wall decoration in the lobby of the Lijiang Waterfall Hotel

 
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A wall decoration in the lobby of the Lijiang Waterfall Hotel

 
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A street corner in downtown Guilin.

 
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Some young students eagerly welcoming us to their school

 
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These students are just as curious about us as we are of them.

 
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Now the students are beginning to enjoy our visit.

 
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The young boys are always more rowdy than the girls

 
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I wonder if they think we are funny

 
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A few of the older girls gather for picture taking.

 
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Now they are back in class and being attentive to their teacher

 
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Now they are back in class and being attentive to their teacher

 
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Students and visitors are enjoying the meeting.

 
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What wonderful smiles

 
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Perhaps a bit shy but curious nevertheless

 
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Two more young scholars

 
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We reassemble in the school playground.

 
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Pagodas to the sun and moon across Shan Hu - Fir Lake from the hotel. The yellow pagoda is constructed of copper or bronze.

 
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Pagodas to the sun and moon across the lake from the hotel. The yellow pagoda is constructed of copper or bronze.

 
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View across the lake

 
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A bridge over the lake that was part of the medieval Tang Dynasty moat - the limestone hills are all around the town.

 
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This large central city square is over an underground garage.

 
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This wall of the Lijiang Waterfall hotel that faces the city square is the one that will turn into a waterfall in the evening.

 
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Outdoor children's amusement park on one edge of the city square.

 
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Yes, McDonald's is every where. This one makes good chocolate milk shakes also.

 
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The pagoda of the sun in time exposure at night.

 
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Another view of the pagoda from a different location.

 
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Time exposure of a pavilon on Fir Lake

 
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Time exposure of a pavilon on Shan Hu - Fir lake

 
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Gunan - The only remaining section of the Tang Dynasty city walls - this gate now has a restaurant on top.

 
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The only remaining section of the Tang Dynasty city walls - this gate now has a restaurant on top.

 
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Night time on the lake

 
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Crowds at night in front of the Tang Dynasty city gate.

 
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The other side of the Tang fortified gate

 
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Timed exposure of the lights on Fir lake.

 
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Timed exposure of the lights on the lake.

 
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Guilin is famous for its Osmanthus trees shown here at night.

 
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The famous waterfall at the Lijiang Waterfall Hotel in operation at night. Large crowds gather in the city square for these performances.

 
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The Pagodas of the Sun and of the Moon at night over Shan Hu (fir Lake).

 
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The Pagodas of the Sun and of the Moon at night over Shan Hu (fir Lake).

 
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A few of the river craft waiting at Zhujiang Wharf on the Lijiang River for the popular tourist cruise. Taking this cruise is one of the main reasons tourists visit Guilin.

 
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Dozens of buses have brought the horde of tourists here crowding to reach their assigned river craft.

 
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And still more crowds press on to reach their boats.

 
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The 3/4 day cruise includes a buffet lunch. Here the chefs on three cruise boats are preparing their kitchens

 
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More kitchens at the stern of their boats.

 
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Tourists are boarding at the bow of several ships.

 
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We are about to get underway, but quite a few of the other boats are already leading the way.

 
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One of the more colorful of the cruise boats.

 
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The line is forming for the cruise to Yangshuo county.

 
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It appears all the passengers have boarded and the wharf is empty - looks like this boat is not going or is waiting for late arrivals.

 
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Our boat falls into line ahead of these three.

 
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We pass the first of the karst formations.

 
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Now we are approaching the series of hills, peaks, crags formed by ancient limestone many of which have fanciful names. A poem printed in the river guide states "The river winds like a blue silk ribon - While the hills erect like green jade hairpins." - but unfortunately on this overcast day we won't see such colors.

 
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The column of boats rounding one of the many bends in this winding river. The river is very shallow and the channel itself shifts from bank to bank. The over cast prevents better photography.

 
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Going round two more bends - note how shallow the water is toward the right side - typically the inner side of a curve will have deposits making the depth less.

 
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The line of boats gives the shallow side a wide berth. At some times of the year the river is too shallow for the cruise.

 
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Looking astern - the shallows are marked with a line of rocks.

 
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Shallow water with sandbanks.

 
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These jagged peaks would be much more colorful on a clear day.

 
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We pass a Chinese family out for a day excursion.

 
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The river guide map provides names for many of the formations, but it is difficult to match them. This may be the "River Snail hill".

 
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Now we are overtaking another boat by passing in a wider section of the river.

 
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But there are still many boats in the line ahead.

 
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Another unique formation with a village between it and the river.

 
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Is this couple fishing? What a frail bamboo craft.

 
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The Beauty of Crown Cave - named as it resembles an ancient Chinese crown. Note the road high on the cliff.

 
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The Beauty of Crown Cave - named as it resembles an ancient Chinese crown. Note the road high on the cliff. And the peak above.

 
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Entering another section with fantastic peaks next to the river.

 
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Another cave formed in the karst mountain.

 
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More fantastic formations

 
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More fantastic formations

 
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Another river village

 
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Another river village

 
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We are enjoying the scenery and all the cruise

 
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A lone villager either fishing or collecting fire wood.

 
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Passing another bend in the river - note the navigation aid on the shore.

 
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Another cruise boat right behind us.

 
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Another cruise boat right behind us.

 
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A local man brings an exotic drink for us to sample

 
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What is in the bottle?

 
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A brave American indeed.

 
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A herd of water buffalo brousing along the river.

 
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Another village

 
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This may be the "Painted Hill of Nine Horses'

 
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After such a strenuous morning observing the passing scenery we are ready for a big Chinese buffet lunch.

 
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More buffalo lounging along the bank - note the misty mountains in the background

 
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More buffalo lounging along the bank

 
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It is either a small waterfall or a sewer outlet.

 
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It is either a small waterfall or a sewer outlet.

 
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Cultivated fields in the valley between these strange hills.

 
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The crops are grown on the hillsides as well.

 
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More crops - but what are they?

 
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We are passing another cruise boat

 
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And another cruise boat

 
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More boats, more tourists, more fun.

 
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We are about to enter a hair-pin curve - the boats in the photo have already passed around a narrow spit of land and shallow and are continuing down stream ahead of us.

 
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The cruise boats come in all sizes and styles.

 
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Now we are approaching the end of the cruise and here already we are passing some of the boats that have unloaded their passengers and are now returning upstream empty but for crew. It is a narrow section of the river.

 
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Now we are approaching the end of the cruise at Yangshou County - some of the boats that were ahead of us are still unloading.

 
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One of the sections of river front at Yangshou County - but note the way the water spills over a wall - not a place for a large boat to dock.

 
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Another part of the Yangshou County river front - another wall under the water here. Perhaps very small boats can safely reach shore here.

 
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To approach a landing we first must continue downstream a short distance, turn around and then wait for other boats to complete their discharge.

 
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Continuing downstream slowly as we await our turn. There are still quite a few boats ahead of us. Note the small temple or shrine in the trees.

 
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Passing some of the town short front

 
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The 'dock' area gets crowded as the boat captains hurry to discharge tourists so they can go back river and home.

 
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Now we are getting into the final line. Note that temple - shrine in the trees above.

 
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View across the Li jang river as we reach the shore at Yanshuo County. Yangshuo is a tourist center of centers with a double line of stalls starting next to the river dock. The locale is worth a visit also for the numerous karst peaks and caves.

 
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A sign on the rock above the landing place.

 
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Here is that unusual cruise boat again.

 
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The view back upstream as we reach the river bank - a group of other boats are tied to each other and to small pontoons in order to discharge passengers.

 
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The closeup of the shrine in the trees.

 
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We are next in line now - note how the passengers crowd onto the dock - as we will see this is because the exit from that dock is very narrow and crowded all the way up the hill.

 
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Another colorful boat - it is passsing us going downstream and preparing then to turn around and follow us to the dock.

 
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Our group is moving slowly up the paved path into the selling arena. Our guide is stopping for something.

 
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Now we are moving through the gauntlet of vendors - some remain with their stalls, but many more are out into the walk way trying to make a sale. Thousands of tourists pass this way every day but there are hundreds of vendors. One has to wonder how many actual sales a vendor needs in order to break even.

 
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Interesting architcture above the narrow walkway.

 
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As we enter a tunnel through a wall some locals appear to enjoy watching the crowd - note our guide's spinning rosetta. The crowds in this narrow and relatively dark, congested section make it impossible to stop and take photos, so we pass through.

 
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A side area - apparently there is some restricted entrance - a fee? - we don't venture to find out.

 
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But looking back down the walkway this gives some impression of the passage we navigated.

 
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A view of the sales area ahead that we have yet to cross through.

 
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Finally we are out onto the town street and find the stalls on either side allow for a widened passage between.

 
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The sales lady is figuring the 'best' price she can for some silk and hand stitched covers.

 
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Typical stall with silk, rayon and cotton cloth items.

 
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Typical stall with silk, rayon and cotton cloth items.

 
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Another view of the central bazar - market street

 
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This indicates that not everything made in China is exported to the US and Europe. There is plenty left for tourists to pick up.

 
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Looking across the Li from the Yanshou County steet we see horses and buffalo doing their thing while ignoring the mob of tourists

 
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Further in to the town we find typical store with apartments over them.

 
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Further in to the town we find typical store with apartments over them.

 
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More genuine Chinese articles to tempt the most careful tourist.

 
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During the bus ride back to Guilin we pass more rice paddies.

 
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Another view of a rice paddy

 
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Hard Work - lady carrying buckets along the highway.

 
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Another rice paddy and nearby farmer's village

 
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The rive paddies occupy all the flat space between the karst peaks.

 
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Back in Guilin we walk around Rong Hu and Shan Hu lakes and photograph the Pagodas of the Sun and Moon from all sides.

 
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The remaining Tang Dynasty city gate with new restaurant on top.

 
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The remaining Tang Dynasty city gate with new restaurant on top.

 
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The lake with its bridges and pavilons - the Waterfall Hotel is the second large building from the left in this photo.

 
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One of the graceful arched bridges over Rong Hu Lake

 
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An other view of the lake and pavilon

 
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A close up of an interesting monument.

 
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Another view of double arched bridge on Ronghu Lake.

 
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Another view of double arched bridge on Ronghu Lake.

 
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Another pavilon in mid lake

 
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Statue of Tang Jing Song

 
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The Pagodas of Sun and Moon viewed from other side.

 
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A modern building in downtown Guilin

 
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The Pagoda of the Sun

 
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The Pagoda of the Moon

 
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Both Pagodas of Sun and Moon from another side.

 
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A modern building but with some traditional Chinese architectural elements.

 
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The Elephant Trunk rock - on the Guilin river front near the Elephant Trunk cave.- which is difficult to reach

 
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A tower on top of the Elephant Trunk hill

 
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a cave in the Elephant Trunk hill seen by telephoto through trees

 
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Close up by telephoto of tower on Elephant Trunk hill.

 
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Close up by telephoto of tower on Elephant Trunk hill.

 
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Osmanthus trees in Guilin city park along the Li jang river

 
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View of Guilin lake above trees from restaurant window

 
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Here we are enjoying luncheon in Guilin with Kelly Weiman - our amazing tour director.

 
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Here we are enjoying luncheon in Guilin

 
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Here we are enjoying another luncheon - last meal before flying to Hong Kong.

 
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We are preparing for final tour around Guilin after another huge luncheon.

 
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Here we are in the Seven Star Park (Qixing Gongyuan), which is across the Li River from Guilin. The park features several limestone caverns as well as the unusual rock formations that are all around Guilin. But we didn't have time to view the caverns ( such as Yinlongyan (Hidden Dragon Cave). The seven peaks happen to form the shape of the Big Dipper constelation when viewed from above. Another hill is called Luotuo Shan (Camel Hill)There are several pavilons and a forest of carved steles.

 
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In the Seven Star Park these local Miao ladies take advantage of the tourist traffic. They approach and will ask (say) $5,00 for the tourist to take a photo with them. The photo taken the tourist finds out they mean $5.00 EACH.

 
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Another photo of the Miao ladies and tourists

 
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Another photo of the Miao ladies and tourists - if you are not among those being photographed With the ladies, and with whom they are negociating, they don't notice you may be taking photos also.

 
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Another obvious location for tourist photography

 
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And here is a lovely tourist couple in the seat of honor.

 
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Yes, I sucumbed to their charms also.

 
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A busy street corner in downtown Guilin - we are on our way to the Reed Flute Cave

 
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As always, the walkway between the bus parking place and the entrance to the tourist attraction is lined with sales stalls.

 
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And the crowd forms into a very lengthy waiting line. There is our guiding star - the spinner at the lead

 
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I took several rolls of high speed film plus many digital photos in the cave but most are much too blured. The various colors are created by colored lights, not necessarily the color of the rock.

 
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Another photo inside the Reed Flute Cave in the Guangming Shan limestone hill.

 
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Another photo inside the Reed Flute Cave in the Guangming Shan limestone hill.

 
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Another photo inside the Reed Flute Cave in the Guangming Shan limestone hill.

 
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Another photo inside the Reed Flute Cave in the Guangming Shan limestone hill.

 
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Another photo inside the Reed Flute Cave in the Guangming Shan limestone hill.

 
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Another photo inside the Reed Flute Cave in the Guangming Shan limestone hill.

 
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Another photo inside the Reed Flute Cave in the Guangming Shan limestone hill.

 
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Another photo inside the Reed Flute Cave in the Guangming Shan limestone hill.

 
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Another photo inside the Reed Flute Cave in the Guangming Shan limestone hill.

 
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Another photo inside the Reed Flute Cave in the Guangming Shan limestone hill. This is the highlight of the cave - The Crystal Palace of the Dragon King

 
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Another photo inside the Reed Flute Cave in the Guangming Shan limestone hill. This is the highlight of the cave - The Crystal Palace of the Dragon King

 
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Another photo inside the Reed Flute Cave in the Guangming Shan limestone hill. This is the highlight of the cave - The Crystal Palace of the Dragon King

 
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Another photo inside the Reed Flute Cave in the Guangming Shan limestone hill.

 
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Another photo inside the Reed Flute Cave in the Guangming Shan limestone hill.

 
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Another photo inside the Reed Flute Cave in the Guangming Shan limestone hill.

 
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Another photo inside the Reed Flute Cave in the Guangming Shan limestone hill.

 
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View from the mountain side entrance of the Reed Flute Cave over the many limestone formations

 
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View from the mountain side entrance of the Reed Flute Cave over the many limestone formations

 

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