Guangxi was once an ancient seabed. The region is rich in limestone. The karst limestone peaks make Yangshuo an international mecca for rock climbing. There are also many limestone caves like this one near Xingping. These formations, caused by drops of water falling in a shallow pool, resemble lotus flower blossoms.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
'Sui Niu' or water buffalo are common in southern China. They are used as plough animals in the rice paddies and are also butchered for meat. Some villages even organize buffalo fights during festivals. On our way through the mountains our bus was stopped by a scuffle between two buffalos butting heads for dominance. In China the ox is a symbol of strength, stability, and hard work. 'Niu' (literally 'cow') is also slang for 'cool.' 'Niu nian zui niu de!' means 'The year of the Ox is the coolest!'
This bridge on the Yulong River was originally built in the early 1400s. The story goes that a scholar had to go to the city to take the State examination. On his way he had to cross this river but there were no ferry boats and he couldn't swim. He sat on the bank of the river and cried for three days. Finally a dragon heard him and carried him safely to the other side. 'Yu long' means 'encounter dragon.' As a way of giving thanks the scholar had this bridge built.
The Zhuang ethnic group makes up 75% of the population in Guangxi. The Zhuang have their own language although Zhuang dialects differ from place to place and are not all mutually intelligible. This young woman is singing a song for us. Traditionally, improvised singing was used for courting. A girl might sing to the boy, 'Which village do you come from? Hey niao niao luo' The boy would respond in song, ' I come from such and such a place, Hey niao niao luo.' In this way the two can get to know each other and decide if they like the other's singing voice.
Cormorant birds. In Guangxi cormorant birds are trained to do a man's fishing for him. The birds are natural fishers. The fishermen tie a cord around the base of the bird's neck so that it can't completely swallow the fish. The birds return to the bamboo raft with a fish stuck in their throat and the fisherman has easy pickings.
From Guilin, the capital of Guangxi Province, we took a riverboat trip south to Yangshuo. For the better part of a day we got to see some of China's most incredible scenery from the water. Guilin and Yangshuo's karst mountains make this one of the most painted and photographed places in China.
The Dong build elaborate timberframe bridges. This one in Chengyang is the biggest of its kind. It was constructed without the use of nails, bolts, or fasteners. In front of the bridge's pilings you can see one of the many bamboo waterwheels used for lifting water into the fields. We also saw several men using long bamboo spears for spearfishing.
Exploring a hilltop garden.
Veggies drying in satellite dishes.
Monday, March 2, 2009
A lusheng player leads a song in front of a drum tower in Chengyang. We heard some excellent singing here. The Dongzu have a reputation throughout the country for being great singers.
Dongzu Grandmother in the Dong village of Chengyang, Guangxi Province.
Stone used for pounding fabric after its been dyed several times, coated in egg whites, then soaked in yam juice and ox glue. The final product is a shiny water resistant cloth.
Indigo is a perennial plant with medicinal properties although it is most often used as a natural dye. This woman is retrieving a length of fabric from a vat full of indigo dye.