January, 12th, 2012
It´s cold, and a damp chill is slowly winding its way up my worn-out denim jeans. A myriad of different impressions is bombarding my nervous system, still worn out from the long flight across the Indian Ocean. Next to me: Chickens and bus seats, and people conversing in loud, passionate sounding voices I cannot understand. The people are carrying the chickens, not the other way around. Or is it?
The massive culture change must be getting to me somehow. It all seems a bit of a blur, but suddenly the scenery changes and jolts me wide awake with its awe-inspiring beauty. Finally, the 90-minute journey over bumpy country roads is coming to an end! Not that I don´t enjoy feisty chickens as travel companions, but I do enjoy gazing upon mesmerizing, majestic mountain ranges thinly veiled by blue shaded fog that much more.
“Common, let´s drop our luggage off at the hotel and get ourselves a nice warm pear tea. It´s freezing, and I can barely feel my feet anymore!” my travel companion states.
“Sounds like a plan!” I answer distractedly while taking in the cozy beauty of picture-perfect Yangshuo all around me. Its contrasting appearance to Guilin, the city we had arrived in and where we had oddly enough been the only people who had left the plane, is staggering.
Where Guilin suppressed the soul with its tightly stacked grey upon grey high-rise buildings, leaving barely enough room for one’s being to breathe, Yangshuo is an entirely different matter. It opens your heart and feeds you images straight out of nature´s endless palette of spellbinding imagery. The picturesque resort town in Southern China´s Guanxi region is set amid pinnacles like Bilian Feng (Green Lotus Peak) and is a pure paradise of all shades of green and blue and grey and wonder.
A popular destination for hiking and rock-climbing enthusiasts alike, Yangshuo is undoubtedly a charming little minx. She first winks at you and then enchants you with one single gaze, transporting you to an exhilarating world of wonder and possibilities. Visitors can choose between countless intriguing options: From quaint Li-river tours to warming Pot-Luck meals, and from healing Qi Gong classes to exciting Bamboo-rafting experiences – a world of Chinese-wonderland- options awaits.
After a lovely little tea-time time-out, we head to our hotel. Once in my cozy room, I flick through a very artsy Yangshuo travel guide that someone seems to have forgotten on the bedside table…
The booklet whispers to me through the subtle magic of the written word:
欢迎亲爱的访客, Huānyíng qīn’ài de fǎngkè, welcome dear visitor! The ancients bid you welcome. You are blessed indeed, as Guilin’s scenery is the finest under Heaven. Show respect and gratitude to the land and its people always. For thousands of years, this spring of poetic radiance and harmonious splendor has inspired countless artists, poets, and musicians alike. Know that their creative electricity still dwells all around you in the rivers, trees, and majestic mountains. And give thanks to both the seen and unseen sources of your vitality, the gift of your life.
Know, esteemed visitor, that here in Yangshuo, you will feel protected by the strong Qi (life force) of the mighty karst mountains. You will be washed clean off your worries and doubts by taking in the gentle beauty of the two rivers. Remember that too much fear imbalances your kidney energy, so take time to quieten your mind with the help of some ancient Chinese wisdom in the form of Tai Chi or Qi Gong. It might please your Spirit to soak in a natural hot spring in the Moon Water Cave or to strengthen your Wood energy, your inner adventurer and warrior, by practicing the art of rock climbing. Wherever your choices and your path may lead you, always remember: Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.”
A knock on my door – my travel companion awaits, and our very own Yangshuo adventure is about to be born. Through which of the many doors laid out before us will we walk? Join me in practicing the virtue of patience, and find out more in the next post. As the ancients would say –
Patience is a bitter plant, but its fruit is sweetChinese Proverb
Back to you, dear reader: What is the most inspiring location you have visited so far? And why did it inspire you? As always, I would love to hear from you:) Stay well and curious!