Posts Tagged With: best things to do in Yangshuo

 
 

Bewitching Yangshuo, part II: Loving and longing along Li river


“The river winds like a green silk ribbon, 

while the hills are like jade hairpins”

Chinese poet Han Yu (768-824)


The white-grayish clouds seem to merge with the gently flowing waters of Li-river, creating a visual art piece in front of my eyes. I consciously choose to hold my often quietly

passionate horses and leave my camera out of it.



Nowadays, there is something deliciously rebellious to only taking mental pictures and putting your entire focus there – deliberately, consciously, and fully aware that every hell YES to a certain decision equals a NONOPE to a different one. Just like you cannot not communicate, you cannot not decide – because even the choice to remain passive and not decide can be a decision with far-reaching consequences both for your own and for other being’s lives. 


Is it the energy of the poetic scenery all around me that makes my mind wander- wonder like this? No surprise there, after all, Li River is a gentle force of poetic beauty and inspiration to be reckoned with. 


Uncovering Lijiang River’s mystery


If Li River, the most written about waterway in China, was a person, he/ she would obviously be called Li. Li would be a mysterious being, maybe born in one of those foggy and elusive winter months, with a tantalizing, seductive, and deep gaze, with a deep-blue scarf ever so effortlessly thrown around their neck, with a few strands of dark hair falling loosely about his or her head.


Of course, Li would lounge around in bohemian teahouses, read forbidden books, discuss art with fellow mysterious beings, write alluring poems and ethereal music, and muse about life. Li would live on the inspiration alone that the river, the green and lush karst hills, and the rugged mountains pour out so generously day after day in Yangshuo county. Li would be a miracle being indeed!



Back to more grounded perspectives and to our leisurely walk along Li river, where we even get to admire the famous scene that became the inspiration for the background image on the 20 Yuan banknote! We also get to witness water buffalos leisurely grazing along the river bank, some of them carrying enormous backward-curving, crescent-shaped horns stretching close to an impressive 1,5 meters (5 feet) long.


On top of that, we get to take in the exotic sights of black cormorant birds with their long, curved, elegant necks and watch savvy-mean fishermen gone tourist-entertainers pimp out their birds for a quick shot along the river boardwalk. 



All the while our host, a passionate Chinese teacher, is dead set on instilling as much knowledge into us as possible, and so we learn new words such as “Měilì de” – beautiful, “ni kan” – look, and “Wǒ bùxiǎng” – I don’t want to, by the bucket load. As well as all about the intriguing meanings behind the Chinese language symbols. 


There is something profoundly enticing about the poetic richness of Mandarin, which literally means ‘speech of officials‘, a group of Chinese languages natively spoken across most of northern and southwestern China.


And while it’s so refreshing to take in all that new knowledge, it feels wholesome to balance the neverending stream of enthusiastically exclaimed Chinese words thrown in our general direction with some soul-soothing contemplation of the breathtakingly beautiful panorama in front of us. 


There is a fairytalelike, enchanted, and deeply peaceful quality to the mountain magnificence that we are privileged to lay our eyes upon. Painted in gentle shades of blue, lovingly covered up by elusive layers of mist, there is truly no-where I’d rather be.


Secrets in the air: The transformative power of true love


Can you find such peace within the realm of human relationships? While we continue to explore the natural beauty all around us, treasured memories of my beloved grandfather Werner come to mind. The peace and soul-deep love between us has carried me through many a storm since his passing fourteen years ago.


Soulmates come in many forms and shapes, is what the wind whispers to me in its melodious hush-hush voice while we meander through Yangshuo’s magical surroundings.  


Understanding between primary soulmates happens without words, from heart to heart, and soul to soul. That’s at least what my own heart and my experience tell me…and for your own truth, always orient towards your own heart as your one true north.


True soul love impacts us in ways that are deeper and more far-reaching than the mind could ever comprehend. True soul love just is, or it isn’t, and it can never be forced. No amount of begging, wishing, or prodding, can make a more loosely knitted kind of love wear the cloth of an ocean-deep bond. Love comes in many shapes, forms, and levels of strength and depth. It is always given freely and at the same time should never be given up on too lightly once it has made its way into our hearts. 


“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Lao Tzu

Let the love for yourself and the love for another merge into waves of bliss, joy, laughter, and compassion, and voila – you’ll turn the mundane into the magical…When you choose to turn your back on contorted notions of love and experience for yourself, when you turn towards love and loving as the most healing and transformative journey and the rawest elixir of life, you can create bonds of true love that can give you wings and let rainbows manifest out of thin air.  


Love is the be and end-all of why we are here” – the  Chinese wind gets a more decisive tone to it and jolts me back into the present. Can you savor, truly savor, this wisdom on your tongue and soak it up with all you are?


Soaking it all up, Yangshuo-style

Breathing in the incredibly pure, innocent mountain air that clears the cobwebs of old thoughts and reveries out of your being surely helps in opening up to new wisdom and inspiration. You can feel your fingertips getting colder, your heart growing bolder. You might even want to smolder: I mean – graceful karst hills all around you, a wide expanse of mist-covered waters, layer upon layer of peaks shrouded in fine gauze, and floating clouds everywhere you look…


As one of the most represented landscapes in traditional Chinese paintings and poems, Yangshuo sure knows how to impress.



We continue walking, while our host keeps on eagerly instructing us in Chinese. All the while, we take in the melodious whispers of the shaddock trees, the sight of a tucked-away learning center advertising Tai Chi classes, and the graceful green bamboo trees gently swaying in the wind.


Siblings seizing the day

After five minutes of relative silence and contemplation, our host exhales loudly and exclaims “Wǒ èle, wǒmen chīfàn ba“. Man, my brother is intensely passionate about Chinese. What did he just shout into our ears? He notices my wondering gaze and quickly adds “I am hungry, let’s eat!” 


Yangshuo’s food scene: Of Steaming hot pots and snake sacrifices


With Rudolph-the-Red-Nose-Reindeer-looking noses from the cold and growling bellies, we make our way back to Yangshuo’s bustling town center and enter a casual-looking restaurant on bustling West Street. I reckon we shall leave the food order to the expat- expert, agreed? 


Twenty minutes and a cup of warming ginger tea with extra-large pieces of ginger later, a steaming hot XXL- large hotpot dish arrives. What a delicious-looking dreamboat! Ahem, steamboat. Mr. Teacher instructs us on how to prepare a Hotpot meal: there’s a simmering pot of soup stock in front of us, and we just take our chopsticks and dunk the different ingredients such as bok choy, crispy Chinese cabbage, and Chinese eggplant, tofu, mushrooms, and seafood into the pot.


Mouthwateringly tasty, an incredible richness of different flavors start to melt in your mouth and satisfies your palate like ooh yeah, more of this, please… While we hungrily devour the food,  my gaze wanders through the restaurant and my eyes meet …a pickled snake in a bottle! No kidding.


Chinese hotpot, a fun and interactive meal! Image by Vlad Vatnetsov via Pixabay

Original Yangshuo snake booze, anyone?

We ask the waiter about such a curious sight to behold, and find out that the snake has been marinated in alcohol for a very specific purpose: Dead drunk snake matey apparently alleviates knee issues! Does it? Does it? Please let me know about your experiences with homemade snake booze in the comment section 😛


Our very cultured host then goes on to explain that in China, it’s common knowledge that when you consume certain organs, these improve the health of the corresponding organ in one’s body. With a conspiratorial gaze, the China expert lets us in on a – pretty disgusting, really– secret, or better said, a real-life-horror-story…here goes: on some parties of the rich and famous, these fellows enjoy…cutting open a living monkey’s head and sip its brain! Freaky. At least from the perspective of our Western and animal-friendly-socialized brains…


Wow, we might need some booze to digest that latest story, hey? … Snake-booze, to be exact 😛 What more crazy adventures might mighty China hold for us? Stay tuned for our next post, when we will head out to have a very messy Chinese lunch with Chinese locals, learn why some Chinese nightclubs have moving floors, and explore Li River on a leaky bamboo raft, amongst many other things.


Back to you, dear reader: Have you ever been to China? If yes: What were your absolute highlights? If not: Where would you most love to travel to within the Chinese borders? As always, I would love to hear from you! Stay well and curious:)


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Categories: Amor und Eros - Love and sensual living, Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel | Tags: , , , | 33 Comments
 
 

Bewitching Yangshuo, part I: The voice of the Ancients

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 sweet

Chinese 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!

Categories: Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel | Tags: , , , , | 54 Comments

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