China through my lens- Part 4: Guilin

Yangshuo, Guilin is my favourite place I travelled to while in China. (You can read about my travel adventure and thoughts on Yangshuo in my earlier post under travel!)

Yangshuo thoroughly satisfied my inner photography cavings. Without further ado, here are my photographs.

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Okay this one technically isn’t ‘my’ photograph, it’s more of a behind the scenes of my photography 😛ImageImageImageImageImageImage

These photos are taken at the ‘Impression Sanjie Liu’ perfomance. Unlike any other theatre performance, this spectacle is performed in the world’s largest natural theatre. The water of Li River is the stage and the misty hills in signature style of Guilin’s mountain ranges are the backdrop. Many of the performers are actual natives in the rural Guilin region. This show is a must see for any traveller in Yangshuo and it certainly leaves a lasting impression!

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This is one of the walls in Ryley’s Cafe. If you read my travel diaries post on Guilin then you will know how much I adore this place!Image

The board with an abundance of notes left by customers!

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Photos inside the Silver caves. The cave is HUGE and the formations are very impressive. The coloured lighting makes everything feel rather surreal as you walk through.Image

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Travel Diaries: Guilin

My recent trip to Guilin, Yangshuo was simply incredible. Unlike the rushed and tiring itinerary of our tour group holiday in Hainan, our time in Guilin was relaxing yet full of worthwhile activities thanks to my grandpa’s well thought out daily plans.

One of the highlights from this holiday was gliding along on the bamboo rafts on Yulong River, also known as the ‘little Li River’. Both sides of the water are surrounded by the signature hills of the area and bamboo forests with signs of the occasional primitive civilisation of a few locals. These signature mountain ranges are all uniquely and strangely shaped. On a misty day, the scene is stunning. It was like I had escaped society and into a picturesque book. It was not peak tourist season and apart from us on the bamboo rafts there were very few other tourists, making the experience all the more intimate. It was almost unreal. I wish I had a notebook with me at the time, capturing the essence of the moment and exactly how the scene made me feel rather than trying to recreate the experience by writing this a week later.

The famous tourist street ‘West Street’ or ‘Xi Jie’ was also full of gems. From Chinese cuisine restaurants to western cafes and bars to souvenir shops, West Street is as eclectic as it is cultural. The majority of visitors here are tourists from all over the world and throughout China. One can hear various languages spoken on this street. This street holds a fusion of west and east. The courtyard like setting with an old oriental style fused with the jazz and pop music played by the bars at night makes an ambience of both quietness and noise, and chaos and elegance. My favourite place on this street is a cosy and quirky place called Ryley’s Café. There is a bookshelf near the entrance overflowing with books both in Chinese and English. On the opposite wall there is a note board full of random messages left by strangers. There is a small stage for live performances at night. The walls are ornamented with vintage posters and records. The bar at the back is lit with LED lights. It is a place where one could spend hours reading, writing, talking or scrolling through the Internet.

My trip to Guilin, Yangshuo made me want to travel and explore more. It reminded me of when I backpacked in Vietnam and Cambodia on a world challenge expedition with school. There were many backpackers in Yangshuo. When we were driving back to Yangshuo on the bus from having seen the Silver Caves, we stopped by the road to pick up two western backpackers. It startled me a little when I heard them speak Chinese. I find it somewhat refreshing and amusing hearing foreigners speak the language. Yangshuo is a place definitely worth visiting if you ever travel to China!

Photos will be uploaded soon!

Travel Diaries: Hainan Tour Group Thoughts

Travelling in a big group is exhausting. I travelled to Hainan and stayed there for 5 days with my mum, grandma and young cousin with a tour group. I now know to never travel with a tour group again if possible. Or a cheeky energetic 6-year-old cousin.

Hainan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China and can be known as the ‘Hawaii of China’ given its abundance of coconut trees, beaches and warm temperature all year round. Before arriving, I had anticipated staying in 5 star hotels with a sea view while sipping on coconut juice. Lying on a hammock while watching the sunset. Chilling by the beach while indulging in a good read. Yes, my perception of holidaying in Hainan was really generic. In reality travel with a tour group meant travelling on a tight budget (average hotels and even more average food) with a tight schedule and thus having 6am wake up calls and a rushed itinerary.

Here are some observations and thoughts during my time in Hainan.

-Chinese people love to take photographs at every single tourist attraction. But its not like they just take a few at the main picturesque spots. Many tourists feel the need to take a photo of every single artefact at an exhibition or of themselves by the sign of an attraction regardless of whether they have an interest in the place/thing. Are you seriously going to look back in a few years time at these photos of yourself in front of some antiquated vase that some native group used in the Hainan region a century ago?

-Selfies selfies selfies. #Imreadyformycloseup. One particular memorable moment happened when we were catching the boat to get to a small resort island. There was a chubby 20 something year old male sitting in front of me dressed in a matching Hawaiian shirt and shorts. Within seconds of getting seated he pulled out a gopro to take several selfies. Those ones where you hold the camera above your head to make your face seem slimmer and more attractive..

-Travelling at the end of February is not travel peak season. Yet, at every attraction we visited there were countless tourists packed at each location. This is China. It was impossible to take a decent photo of the picturesque landscape without having a plethora of people in the background all with their cameras out trying to capture the same thing.

-This leads to another thought that kept crossing my mind. I wonder how many photos of strangers will have me in the background. Accidental photo bombing LOL. Looking at some of my photographs from this trip I assume a lot.

-That moment when the bus starts moving and I haven’t sat down yet.

-The moment when you want to yell out of frustration at your naughty 6-year-old cousin but there are too many people in close vicinity so you just grin and bear it.

-That awkward moment when you try to get a stranger to take a group photo but your DSL camera is supposedly too complicated for an amateur to take a decent photo with everyone in the frame and in focus… even though its set on auto…

Next week (3rd) I will be travelling to the beautiful Gulin! (NOT with a tour group Thank goodness)

I will be uploading photos of my China trip once I get back to Auckland!