Sunday, January 31, 2016

My Take on the Pomelo Fruit in Guangxi Province @ China

In my recent exploration of the Chinese New Year bazaar at Chinatown, i got to know that Shatian in Guangxi province was a placed famed for their pomelo and this reminded me of my trip to China last October

It was mealtime at Lipu before we took on Silver Cave and many people were crowding around this fruit stall right outside the restaurant. Shen Fei, our guide, had previously advised on the fruits that Guangxi was famous for and pomelo was one of them. 

You know what? Shen Fei specially bought one pomelo for us to share among ourselves! It's extremely nice of him even though most people would think it as a gimmick that only foolish Singaporeans would believe.

Nevertheless, i never say no to free food! 

Frankly, there was nothing exceptional about the pomelo as far as taste is concerned; to be fair, the meat peeled easily off the skin although that factor was hardly enough to sway my review.

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For the itinerary of my tour package (guaranteed no shopping stops) to Guilin via Chan Brothers, please check out the link here.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Silver Cave (银子岩) in between Yangshuo & Lipu @ Guangxi Province [China]

Silver Cave (银子岩) - is a 2-kilometer cavern that cuts across 12 hills and was named because of the shimmering particles on the stalactites and stalagmites found within.

Excitement didn't quite kick in for me since i had been to a number of caves in China and came to the conclusion that without the multi-coloured lights; they would have appeared dull and boring.

The view at the entrance was more attractive. I just noticed the twelve zodiac animals' heads surrounding the five god of fortunes on the bottom left; were they fabricated based on the bronze ones previously lost from the Old Summer Palace (圆明园) in Beijing?

What does this remind you of? It didn't take us to long to figure that the two hills could have been mistaken as two silverback gorillas in loving embrace!

For those interested to know what's surrounding the Silver Cave, please click here for my last posting. As a teaser, i had the best dried persimmon in my life that was purchased from one of the stalls there.

Entering the cave! We didn't manage to enter immediately and i guess it was mainly due to crowd control to ensure visitors enter by batches.

The two-kilometer trek comprised of three main sections; lower cave, grand hall and upper cave and that means many, many steps. Those who couldn't manage the distance can consider renting the traditional sedan and be carried by two strong men; all for the cost of RMB 250 (about S$55).

Both dad and i are still able and thankfully didn't have to engage their service. Hence, let's begin our expedition of the silvery, multi-coloured cave.

As mentioned earlier, i don't have much affection for caves in general and it didn't help that the movie series, The Descent, have left a deep, scarring impression on me.

Oh well, be prepared for photographs, photographs and more photographs even though they didn't turn out as well as they should given my poor camera skill.

Imagination, as usual, is required - the above stone does seem like a giant taro (yam); hence the name, the Taro King in Lipu. I am sharing the photos in chronological order for the sake of flow as some might not have any description. 

A wine cellar with historical wine urns; i initially thought they were only for show until i chanced upon a panel with eye-popping information; records from year 1652 showed that wine had already been stored in Silver Cave! 

Continuing our walk.

I hate the fact that i am genetically impatient and couldn't handle the manual yet powerful functions of my DSLR; a speedlight could also have enhanced the photo.

The journey so far was pretty enough but as my guide has put it; you see one cave in China, you see them all; kindly have to agree with him since i have visited no less than four caves in the middle kingdom! 

Adding an aura of mysticism to the pool of water, i cannot deny the advantages of artificial lighting although if it is something so easily replicable elsewhere, there's not really an element of uniqueness. 

Golden key in the purple wash - doesn't look like our conventional key. 

Photo didn't turn out that beautifully with the activation of the inbuilt flash. I personally dislike using flash as it tends to draw attention and the light might also be destructive to living organism and inorganic matter alike. 

Surprisingly, the cameras on iPhones and iPads performed quite well in low light conditions and given the convenience, many visitors were holding on dearly to their mobile devices.

佛祖论经 - Buddha teaches scriptures and to that effect, it was appropriate to add in electronic candles, an incense holder and incense sticks to complete the picture. 

Look out for the section with orange lighting - dig deeper into your imagination.

In comparison to the Manjanggul Lava Tube in Jeju Island, it was just as wet even though the flooring was less slippery with the pebblewash that created a lot more friction with our shoes. 

More photos! 

音乐石屏 - the pretty musical stone with mineral-encrusted strings that only a fairy can play a tune from. Again, without the lights, it would be just a coral-looking stone. 

水镜倒影 - Reflection on the Water; the hint was obvious from the name of this scene and you should not be concentrating on the limestone! 

Still water with a reflection that almost commensurate with the actual product! 

You can purchase the wine stored in the Silver Cave! Interestingly, you can find osmanthus-flavoured wine although i shouldn't have been taken aback given its status as the unofficial provincial flower. 

Continuing the photo shoot....

银子钻石 - Silver Diamond; among all the limestone structures, this was the most spectacular and these photos fail to replicate what i saw for real with my own eyes. 

There were speckles of silver particles that shimmered as you walk past and it did feel as if diamonds and silver were hidden beneath!

A limestone pillar connecting the floor and ceiling; frankly, it looked a bit shaky to me. 

Chinese are superstitious by nature and putting something that's out of place in a cave translates into many rumours / theories with regards to its existence. 

Most of the times, it means paying a small sum of money to buy a blessing and in the opinion of Chinese, even overseas Chinese like i, there's seriously no harm in trying. 

Support for a block of stone; the delicate structure that takes millions of year to take shape might be destroyed in a mere few years by throngs of visitors. Hence, please don't take nature for granted. 

It had been an upward climb so far and from this moment, downwards shall we proceed. At the point as well, we neither saw nor heard any of our tour mates! My family is the sort that hates to keep others waiting; therefore, my dad and i quickened our pace. 

Magic double pillars - the meaning of magic was lost on me as it didn't appear all that magical to me unless it's super rare to have two pillars in the same structure.

Photographs and more photographs with the last one showing the magic double pillars again.

Strangely, i expected caves to be dark, cold and wet but Silver Cave wasn't cold at all; we were sweating like pigs and there were even the occasional placement of fans along the walkway to cool visitors down! 

An exhibition of ancient coins with the first picture showcasing a replica of the earliest coin in China's history dating back 3,000 years ago from the half mythical Shang dynasty.

Ya, pictures again.

Silver diamond again! 

This tunnel had photographs of notable attractions in Guangxi province; likely to entice us with photographs so that we can book a tour to check them out! Pity i am already on a full packaged tour! 

Souvenir shop selling dated mementos that would have a hard time attracting the younger generation to fork out a single cent.

I am getting tired of the pictures; do bear with me for a while more as i would be ending this post very soon. Anyway, the scroll on your mouse is there for a purpose. :P 

This baffled me; in what way does this look like an ice cream?! My view is that it bears stronger resemblance to titum arum, the world's smelliest flower!  

Last batch of the photos! 

The route that i would have to pass by earlier. Approximately an hour was taken to cover the cave which didn't deviate much from the official duration. Those who just concentrated on having their eyes glued to the ground from start to end would cover it in much shorter time. 

A warning for obvious reason.

More souvenir shops; business was either very bad or that by the time we left the cave, there was only a small group of visitors.

Last look before our eyes squinted with the brightness of the sunlight at the exit. 

Since we exited on higher ground, more steps for us! I think i shared before that as we get older, climbing up is easier than going down! 

Beware of Landslides! I would be moving in fear if it has been raining. Luckily, it had mainly be drizzles so far although i would have welcomed a lower temperature. 

The sign warned of a fine between RMB 50 - 200 for those who pee and shit in open areas.

After cavern walk in sweltering condition, do take a breather. At this point, the ice cream fridge did seem relatively appealing. 

Unsure who this statue was based on. 

Exit of the Silver Cave wasn't the official exit; rightfully, it would need traversing through a humongous shop filled with dirt cheap food products.

Another specialty of Guangxi - the chilli paste! 

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Website

Map of the Silver Cave
As above.


Do check out the posting for the summarised itinerary of Chan Brother's tour package (guaranteed no shopping stops) to Guilin; it would give you a better overview of my trip. :) 

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