8 Days Yunnan and Guizhou Karst Landform Travel Experience
A quintessential itinerary of Yunnan (云南) and Guizhou (贵州) province
Maling River (马岭河) – Wanfeng Forest (万峰林) – Bamei Village (坝美村) – Puzhehei (普者黑) – Fuxian Lake (抚仙湖)
Days: 8 days
Cost: 5000RMB per person
I enrolled in a 8-Day tour organized by a travel agency from Yunnan (云南) to Guizhou (贵州) province. We assembled and dissolved both in Kunming (昆明).
1. Section of Guizhou province
Our travel group had 18 members in total, besides, we had two travel leaders, one local guide and a driver, which were dispatched by our travel agency. We departed from Kunming all the way to the east at 8:10 am, and the destination was Maling River, the canyon scenic area in Xingyi City (兴义市), Guizhou province. At 12:00 am, we had lunch in the Luoping County (罗平市), Yunnan province, then headed on the road again at 13:15, and arrived at the destination at 15:00 pm.
Taking the elevator to the bottom of the canyon, you could see a waterfall. The square elevator with glass walls was about forty to fifty meters high. Although it did not fit in with the surroundings, it provided convenience for visitors like me who have difficulty in walking.
The canyon was very deep, and plank road built along the face of cliffs were full of bends and twists. Sometimes, there were several suspension bridges as visiting aisles connecting two sides of the canyon. Because it was rainy season, the waterfalls in the canyon of Maling River had abundant water. At the bottom of canyon, water ran rapidly and many large stones were piled up, which were caused by the collapsed underground cave, according to information from a board. To the end of plank road, we passed through the canyon by going down the suspension bridge. When came to the other side of canyon and looked towards the opposite, I saw four or five waterfalls side by side in front of me. Some of the waterfalls flow softly, and some violently; Some like “pearls falling into a jade plate”; some like “torrent dashing down three thousand feet from high”. What impressed me most was one waterfall with large amount of water which was near the sightseeing elevator; with a good viewing angle, you could enjoy that the “galaxy” flowed out. Everyone had to go through from its back, so we could have chance to be close with water. In the canyon, there were different scenery, and it was exciting to appreciate different kinds of waterfalls during a short distance.
Our tour guide introduced: the canyon scenic spot of Maling River was located in the Xingyi City (兴义市), Guizhou province, which was featured by its deep valley, rapids, cascading waterfalls and hanging landscape of walls of calcium carbonate; The canyon had a total length of more than 70 kilometers, width of 50 to 150 meters, depth of 120 to 280 meters and was below the ground about 200 meters. Since it was a team tour, we just visited one of the most brilliant parts and did not finish the whole scenic spots.
It took about two and a half hours to finish these famous spots. Later, we took the tourist bus and lodged in the local house which was located outside the Wanfeng Forest Scenic Area. Conditions of accommodation were not perfect, but the environment was good. There was a river named “Nahui” which was around the village. People all lived in the north of the river, and in the south of the river, there were a large field of farmlands that were roads to the entrance door of the Wanfeng Forest Scenic Area. We lived in the end of the village where the footpath along the river started, and the guideposts could be seen. The footpath had three branches that all led to the Wanfeng Forest Scenic Area.
Before breakfast, we walked along the “Nahui” river. Soon after, we heard the crystal sounds of running water was getting louder and louder —it was a dam that stopped the flowing river, forming a waterfall. Because it rained overnight yesterday, and it was the rainy season, the river was very muddy.
After the breakfast, we walked to the scenic spot cashier. We started to visit the core parts of Wanfeng Forest Scenic Area by taking battery cars. There were nine stop-off points in total, and every stop-off point was equipped with watchtowers where visitors could fully enjoy the Wanfeng Forest Scenic Area. We saw karst landform here. There was a wide marsh land, and the two sides were countless mountains. In the marsh land, there were innumerable peaks, which were just like incalculable steamed buns in a huge steamer. Although the shapes of the “steamed buns” were different — some were flat and some were sharp, their colors were all green because of the vegetation grown on them. There was a small but independent peak embraced by other six peaks, which formed the scene of “seven stars around the moon”. Besides, there were low-lying fields caused by underground karst caves, and people planted crops on the low-lying fields in the light of local conditions. With beautiful and grand peak forest, peak cluster, low-lying land of peak forest as well as mountain lands of peak cluster, it was truly the “Museum of Karst Geomorphology” in China. The flat low-lying land was the home of local Buyi nationality, and people planted crops here. Owing the dark green peak cluster, light green farmland, white walls and dark tiles, varicolored flowers, and clear river, the beautiful scene was just like the landscape woven in silk.
Taking the bus, we went down the marsh land which was called “Bazi” by the local people, and went into the nationality village. The stockaded village was very big and there were old banyan trees over hundred years, square under the tree, and some small markets. In one of the restaurants on the side of the road, we ate the local “glutinous rice”: rice covered with fried minced meat with diced potatoes and soup. Besides, we had the local dessert called “Xiazi bean jelly”: syrup with cooled vermicelli.
After lunch, we walked back to our hotel and checked out to the next scenic spot. On the road, we saw the huge waterfall of the canyon scenic spot of Maling River we visited yesterday from afar. At that moment, I just knew why it was called “Scar on the earth”, because it looked like that the flat land was broken into a huge crevice, and the river water of the Maling River was suddenly broken down as a result of it, then formed the miraculous and spectacular waterfall.
At 17:30 pm], we arrived at the Longlin County (隆林县), Guangxi province (广西省), then accommodated and had dinner.
2. Section of Yunnan province
We set out at 9:00 am all the way west to the Yunnan Province. On the way, we saw the blue sky, white cloud, rolling hills and red soil covered with green vegetation. Sometimes, thin clouds floated from the mountains, and formed the sea of clouds. We enjoyed ourselves on the road.
When we passed by a town in Longlin County (隆林县), Guangxi province, our car has been unable to pass at a normal speed for a long time since it was the market day. The only road of this town was filled with all kinds of goods, including fruits, cereals, vegetables and articles of daily use etc. Villagers (mainly women) wearing the folk costume came and went. Therefore, our bus moved very slowly, but it gave us a good opportunity to look around and photograph.
At 12:00 am, we reached the Guangnan County (广南县), Wenshan Prefecture (文山州), Yunnan province. Our destination today was the Bamei scenic spot. Bamei village was surrounded by the green mountains, and people who wanted to go in and out of the village had to take a boat through the deep, dark water tunnel, because there was no ground transportation here. First, we took the carriage outside the county (5 persons per carriage, 5 RMB one person) and moved along the mountain roads. When we came to the cliff, there was no road here, and we just saw a deep and dark cave which was about 20 meters high. Clear water flowed out of the cave and formed a small waterfall.
We took the boat called “Zhucao” by local people and went into the cave. It was very hot outside, but it became cold when we went into the cave. At the beginning, we could see stalactites which were covered on the roof. However, it became darker as we went further. Except three “skylights” with little light, it was very dark. The cave was very quiet, and we only heard the sound of boating. The boatman put electric flashlight on his head for illumination. Sometimes, there were some empty boats sailing out in the opposite direction. It took about 20 minutes for us to get used to the dark, at the same time, the exit was also near.
When we went out from the cave, we saw a waterwheel creaking around. It seemed like that it welcomed visitors. Bamei village was surrounded by mountains as if high walls guarded the village. The land of village was very flat, and houses were dignified, besides, trees on the mountain cliff were luxuriantly green. Villagers of Bamei were all Zhuang nationality living in the northeast of the village. In the center of the small village, the farmland was used for crops and the main crop was rice. There was a river named “Bamei River” cross the winding river which flowed out from the cave we came from. Bamei River ran through the whole Bamei Village and connected the two caves. The short “Bamei River” was divided into two sections at first, then converged into one, and one section of the river was for bathing. There were several big banyan trees which provided shady and cool space for the houses here. Under the biggest and oldest banyan tree, a piece of large ground was covered with plate-like roots, and it remind people of the face of an old man who has been through the vicissitudes of life. It was said that the old banyan tree was the place where all the villagers had meetings.
Because of the traffic inconvenience, Bamei Village secluded from the world and people here still continued the tillage method used more than 300 years ago, for example, the wooden plough and rake to till the land, old wooden waterwheel for irrigation, grow cotton and spin cloth. Before long, there were no electricity here, water mill or stone mill for rice and flour milling, and people cook with firewood. Until the end of the last century, tourism has been developed here, and the Bamei Village was in the process of modernization. Villagers has already used electricity, telephone and Wechat. However, lacking of good plan, the rich traditional cultural folklore was faded-out. As a result of modernization, houses have been rebuilt, and the room we lived was equipped with air conditioning, hot and cold running water, television as well as liquefied gas for cooking.
Because the village had a low altitude and was surrounded by hills, it was very hot in the afternoon. Several old men sitting in the square watched over the fresh or dried Dendrobium they collected from mountains and local food. If there were visitors wanted to buy these goods, they would promoted sales, but if you were not willing to buy, they would not force you to buy goods. Some stores sold the local jewelry, clothing and shoes. Following the river, we came to another exit of the village which was also a cave where water flowed into it. Precipices around there were very high, and if villagers wanted to go out, they had to take boats from there. From the ancient times to present, the connection between Bamei Village and outside were that two long and dark caves.
I got up very early the next day, and walked along the stone steps behind our hotel to the mountain. When climbed up to a higher position, I overlooked the whole village from the northwest. Villagers all lived in the higher tableland in the northeast, and other land was for crops like rice. At the top of the mountain, you could see that there was a cave at each end of the east and west. I tried to get to a higher place, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of Bamei Village in the morning. In the southwest of the sky, I saw the round moon on May 18th of the lunar calendar; the mists seemed like the white gauze curtain dancing over the village at the first, and then became the light gauze kerchief twined around the mountainside when it floated across the cliff opposite; the sun gradually rose from my left back, and the top of the hill opposite the village was first painted with gold, then illuminated the whole hillside little by little. Finally, the center of the village was sprinkled with sun. However, where I stood was in the shade, so it was very cool and quiet. As the cock crowed and the dawn chorus began, the smoke rose continuously from the village chimneys, and Bamei Village gradually woke up! How beautiful and quiet the village was! Since Bamei village connected with outsides only by water tunnels, it was truly like the scene that the famous Chinese poet Tao Yuanming describes in his poem Peach Blossom Spring.
At 10:00 am, we left Bamei Village by taking boats from the water tunnel we visited yesterday all the way to the east. However, compared with entering, it was a little different. The exit cave has been fitted with colorful lights illuminating the stalactites, and we could enjoy the scenery of the cave in detail.
Half an hour later, we took the travel bus and headed from Guangnan County to Qiubei County (丘北县). The road we drove mostly was highway. We had our lunch in Guangnan County, and arrived at the Puzhehei scenic spot in the Qiubei County at 16:00 pm. After checking in, we were organized to catch fishes in the fishpond of our inn, which was a recreational activity of local Yi nationality. Because it was very hot, other travelling companions entered the water directly. Sometimes, they could catch fishes, or the fishes they already caught would slide into the water again. What a fun activity it was!
In the night, the travel agency organized a campfire party for us. Local performers of Yi nationality were invited to sing and dance. Performers interacted with visitors actively, and we sang and danced together around the burning campfire.
Where we lived was a town near the Puzhehei scenic spot. At the back of the hotel, you could see a part of the lake of PuZhehei. It was extremely beautiful in the morning or evening: the peak cluster in the distance seemed to stand in the lake surface, and lotus were all closed without the illumination of sun.
At 9:00 am, we went into the scenic spot. As the national 5A-level scenic area, Puzhehei was the karst landform of the Yunnan-Guizhou plateau and had many lakes. Since it was very big, we did not visit it deeply. We saw the migrant birds swans were artificially kept in a arm of lake for tourists to watch. By the side of the roads, there was a big lake. The wild lotus grew in the lake, and embellished the green lotus leaves with white flower, pink flower and red flower. “Peak cluster” standing in the lake just liked the snail in the green plate. Sometimes, if there was no lotus and lotus leaves, lake surface would reflect the blue sky and white clouds.
Then we followed guides to visit the watercourse in the lake region by boats. Some green water plants stood on the sides of the curving watercourse, sometimes, a bridge across the river connected the two sides of the river. The sky was very blue and light breeze blew slowly. How comfortable it was! With the water guns, buckets and water ladles, we started the water-war event in our boats when there were more and more boats came to us. Even if you did not know each other, you could “attack” the other side violently if your boats approached. Everyone in the boats joined the fight and were all wet. It was a little cold when the breeze blew. The sun blazed down on us that afternoon, two and a half hour later, the clothes was dry. Because the strong ultraviolet rays of the plateau, people easily got sunburned. We set out at 16:30 pm and climbed the Qinglong Mountain as our plan previously. It was not high but steep. Puzhehei scenic spot was so beautiful — many villages, lotus and peak clusters. Overlooking the scenic area from the hill, you would find the scenery on the east and west sides were totally different. Besides, there had different shooting highlights in the morning and evening. Therefore, it was truly a good place for photographers.
We got in the car at 19:00 pm and headed for Qiubei County (20 KM away). On the side of roads, our car driver pulled up in a place called “Maomaochong”, anwe enjoyed the setting sun of Puzhehei. In the following photo, you could see the green belt next to a river which belonged to the lake region of Puzhehei. We stood or sit on the grass. On the western horizon, we saw the edge of sun kissed the mountain and the sun hided behind peaks gradually, then sank below the horizon. The sunset glow spread from the west to the east and was set against the blue sky. The surface of water gradually changed its shadows: at first, it was golden; then, when the sun sank below the horizon, peak cluster in the distance as well as lotus became dark, the surface of the water looked more like a mirror reflecting the sunset glow clearly. At 20:30 pm, we got to the Qiubei County and put up a guest for the night.
We departed for Fuxian Lake scenic spot in the Chengjiang County (澄江县), Yunnan province. By the way of Yiliang County (宜良县), we tasted the famous delicious roast duck which was as good as Peking Duck. Besides roast duck, we also had other dishes, and it cost 30 RMB per person. We reached the destination at 15:00 pm, and checked in. The water was clear and became dark blue when we looked far away; the wind was not strong and rolled up waves breaking the shore. Where we stayed was the on the side of sand beach for recreation, which was paved with silver sand. On this broad beach, there were trees, ball racks, sunshades and so on; on the higher place, there were rows of stores; beside the river and on the river, many pleasure-boats parked. Speed boats shuttled back and forth. Walking along the shore, I saw the green old banyan tree, a group of statues showing the local ancient methods of fishing, and old T-shaped wharf paved by stones. For dinner, we tasted the local Braised Rice with Potatoes (20 RMB one pot for two person).
We got up very early and climbed the Bijia Mountain behind our hotel with our tour leader so as to catch the sunrise. By the way, we overlooked the scenery of Fuxian Lake in the morning: pleasure-boats parked on the lake with fine ripples. How charming the Fuxian Lake was! At that time, the moon was still high in the sky and bells from a temple came to our ears. Finally, the sun shined through the clouds and sparkled the lake.
At 10:00 am, we checked out and returned to Kunming. At 12:30 am, we arrived at Kunming. —The travel notes was written in the October, 2016.
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