Grab your cup of tea! Today I'm taking you to Yangshuo, China.
This is the view we'd wake up to every morning...
After breakfast, we'd bike ride beneath the Karst Mountains through the little village.
But...head upriver and you can get onto little rafts, floating back to the hotel.
It's pure bliss.
You wave to the fisherman as you float by.
Stare wide-eyed as a young boy--and an ox--swim beside your raft.
Smile at the old lady shrieking, "Coke? Pho-to?" in a high-pitched voice from her nearby raft.
Along the way are a series of little waterfalls.
But it's hot and they're fun.
The long raft comes to the edge, teeters over the brink, and then splashes down. You quickly lift your feet to keep your shoes dry as the current continues to gently push your raft downriver.
One night, we took a cab to the closest town-- Guilin. In order to communicate you carry a business card from the hotel. Show the cab driver and voila...he knows where to bring you. Same thing to return to the hotel.
But...the tiny road is blocked.
An old, top-heavy truck carrying logs has lost its load. That's okay. The cab driver decides he isn't waiting.
He detours along a bumpy utility path through a farmer's field-- the crop is so high you can't see. So, he's just honking his horn, driving blind. When we hear another car horn, we pull aside and wait for the oncoming car--doing the same thing--to pass.
We arrive at the quaint little town, which is home to a world famous outdoor musical light-show, choreographed by the same man who did the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Put on every night by over 600 locals, it is something out of a dream. The river becomes the stage and the ethereal Karst Mountains the backdrop.
Gerd Eichmann, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
The story is a beloved Chinese legend about a local girl named Sanjie Liu who became a goddess.
From what I understand, the story goes like this:
Born in the 7th century, Liu was from a small fishing village. When her parents died, she was raised by her beloved older brother. To survive, they collected firewood and sold fish they'd catch in the river.
Liu grew to be a beautiful young woman. She was kind, but it was her voice that made her famous.
Because she'd sing songs describing the plight of the poor, the wealthy landlords were determined to put a stop to her singing, especially a man named Mo Huairen. He tried to suppress her. Tried to make her his concubine. Tried to keep her from singing. Finally...he decided to kill her.
The villagers helped Liu and her brother escape and she defiantly continued to sing.
Inspired by her bravery against the wealthy landlord, the locals began to sing as well.
Soon, everyone was singing.
Mo flew into a rage and tried to kill all the villagers.
To save their lives, Sanjie Liu jumped into a lake.
However...the minute Liu's feet touched the water, an enormous golden fish sprang out, carrying her straight to Heaven. She became an immortal and over the centuries, the villagers have passed down her songs.
Photo Credit: China Tour Guide