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05 October 2010

Hong Kong & Guang Xi

written by: Don

After 3.5 years, we finally returned to Hong Kong to visit our family, and this time we were joined by Monika & Michael. Then, in the second week, we took this opportunity to do what Birgit has been insisting on doing for nine long years - to finally go to China!

Even though we have been back to Hong Kong together several times before, this is still a first time under many other aspects: first time as a married couple, first time for Monika & Michael, first time since Karl moved back - and first time since I picked up photography as a hobby.

The trip started off with me going to Hong Kong alone to work in Mott's local office for a week. It was a superb arrangement, as I got to spend more time with my family in the evenings. I even visited Karl's uni lecture one evening - and fell asleep promptly within 15 minutes!! Ok, admittedly, it was due to jet-lag, not due to Karl's style of lecturing... ;-P

Hong Kong (19/09/2010 - 23/09/2010)

Once Birgit, Moni & Michael have arrived, the holiday truly begann. We had five fantastic days in Hong Kong together with my family, including a city walking tour (guided by - myself!), Mongkok Ladies Market, Chi-Lin Nunnery (introduced by mama), the unmissable Fire-Dragon dance (introduced by Moni :-P ), Stanley Market, the big Buddha etc... And of course, there were plenty of good meals in between every day.

But sadly there never seems to be enough time to do all the things we would like to do. The most notable proof: we didn’t set our feet into Time Square the whole trip - not even once! Ah well, more reasons to go back soon, I guess...

View Dazhai & Yangshuo in a larger map

Longji Rice Terraces (24/09/2010 - 25/09/2010)

After the many wonderful days in Hong Kong, we parted with Moni and Michael and flew out to Guilin. Our first destination is a little Village called Dazhai. Inhabited mainly by the Yao minority, Dazhai Village is well tucked away in the mountains of Guangxi. It is the first village of the Longji Rice Terrance Region and the last place you can reach by car. Any other place within the region are reachable only on foot at least an hour hike up the mountain along narrow footpaths.

So with this in mind, once landed in Guilin, we have arranged for a certain Mr. Chen (a.k.a. Mr Full-Throttle) from the Hotel to drive us to Dazhai. So sure enough, he drove us (it felt like he flew us) down the highway then up the mountain, all the while running dangerously close to the edge of the road next to a 100m fall, all that with a fog so dense you cannot see your own fingers at the far end of your outstretched arm. Most remarkably, he managed to speed under such conditions to a point that the motor ran hot and he had to stop and use the readily available bottles of water to cool it off (he seems to have seen this coming and was well prepared, one would say). Then finally we arrived at the gateway to the rice terrace reserve and were greeted by Brunold, an Austrian. This was obviously a surprise, we didn't really expect to be greeted with 'Servus' instead of 'ni-hau' in the middle of China, but there you go. Brunold, as it turned out, is the co-owner of the hotel we are staying in, Wisdom Inn, together with his girl-friend Sandy. So we took a short walk from the car park into the mountains, and in no time, we arrived at Dazhai Village.

By then, everything was pitched black, so there was no chance for us to appreciate the beauty of the village. So when the next morning broke, we were swiftly woken up by a rooster, only to be slightly disappointed by the rather muggy weather. We took heart and decided to do the recommended extended hike up and down the mountain, not even deterred by the look of the only other guest at our hotel: a polish lady who did the very same hike the day before and had her face covered with scratches and scares after slipping on the wet stones.

To get this straight, the hike was pretty awful, my boots got soaked pretty much the moment I thought: 'well at least my feet are dry' and those stones were really bloody slippery. But all that was rewarded by the beauty of the landscape. The sharp edges of the rice terraces combined with the flowing curves give the entire landscape an altogether otherworldly appearance. This is a place anyone would want to go back again and again, in the different seasons. In September when we were there, the rice plants are fully grown and ready for harvest, but in Spring time, they grow raps instead and everything is in a bright yellow. Then in Summer, when the rice are still young and the water surface exposed, the reflection of the sunlight in the many terraces gives the scene a magical glow. And of course in Winter, when the terraces are snow covered, no words are required to describe how fantastic that must be.

Longsheng Hotspring (26/09/2010)

After a day of hiking along the rice terraces in soaked boots and in order to sit out the cold and wet weather, we decided to make a little detour to the Longsheng Hotspring. The endless hours of bus ride up and down the province with interchanges in Longsheng and Guilin were an experience of its own, but it was well worth it! Obviously, no photography allowed within the hotspring areas, but there were still plenty of images for us to take home. It was simply a relaxing day during which we have had our feet burnt in hotspring water and a chicken killed right in front of us for our dinner order - only to turn out to be pretty chewy and not very enjoyable. Welcome to China!

Yangshuo (27/09/2010 - 01/10/2010)

There was only one thing we knew about Yangshuo before we got there: ‘this is a place you will not want to leave in a hurry’, says the Lonely Planet. And how right it is! The three and a half days we had in Yangshuo were filled with fabulous activities: hiking along the Li River; cycling, swimming and bamboo-rafting along the Yulong River; visiting the impressive light show with a 500-men strong cast; taking a Chinese cooking course; tandem cycling to the moon hill... the activities were countless. The choice of the hotel was an absolute stroke of luck: The Giggling Tree, located just outside Yangshuo in the countryside, is ran by a Dutch couple. The staff there were just simply brilliant, organising all sorts of activities and looking after the guests very well. We certainly had a great time there - despite the many mosquito bites!!



Ulrike likes this blog post.

(Posted on 22 October 2010)

Amelia wrote on 22 October 2010:

I can't wait to see you both back again to head for the north. Please do not let me wait too long into the future. With Love, Mama

Monika likes this blog post.

(Posted on 24 October 2010)

Guto Assi wrote on 09 November 2010:

Wow! Wonderful photos! I want to visit this place, but I need you two as my guides...

The one with carps, droplets and waves is fantastic! Well done! So, what is your new camera?

Lots of love,

Guto and Lilian

Sue wrote on 08 March 2011:

I've become a fan of your photos Don! Guang Xi is sooooo beautiful!!

We've just got a Canon EOS550D double lens kit. What is the camera and lens you are using again?

Don wrote on 09 March 2011:

Hey Sue, glad you like the photos! :-) I use a Canon EOS550D as well, with the 18-250mm IS lens. It's not a great lens, but the quality is very good for the price and the wide range of focal lengths makes it very versatile and great as a travel lens.

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