Friday, December 18, 2015

Impression Liu Sanjie (印象刘三姐) @ Yangshuo County, Guilin [China]

My younger sister had forewarned me; "Don't bother with the Impression Liu Sanjie show in Guilin". But when the rest of my tour mates appeared to be so excited to check out the performance, we really didn't want to be a wet blanket and agreed meekly to pay the RMB 280 ticket (per person). 

I had actually prepared the extra cash for this optional segment and it was kind of assuring to see a large crowd congregating at the entrance upon our arrival. 

For that moment, i presume it should be an above average show, especially given the fact that it has been running for more than ten years (since 2004)! Our seats at section B2 were within the "distinguished guests" area!

Most expensive was "A" section with A1 costing an incredibly RMB 680 per ticket! According to our guide, the further you sit, the better the view since the natural stage stretched for about two kilometers and you would get its grandeur if your seats are too close. 

Please be prepare to walk a bit once you get pass the main entrance; above was a structure along the way and i am unsure on its purpose. It could have been a restaurant, i guess.

The entrance to the partially natural theatre; half was built by man to hold the 600 performers while the other half was crafted by mother nature which featured a total of 12 peaks as a raw yet scenic backdrop. 

Liu Sanjie - the name of a lady who belonged to the Zhuang minority and lived during the Tang Dynasty. Her story was made into a movie in 1961 and gained tons of fans with its beautiful renditions of local folk songs! I may be borne in 1980 but even i have heard of the songs! Those who wish to watch the movie can purchase the original DVD from the stall at the entrance. Alternatively, you can search for the HD version on Youtube, for free. 

View from our seats; not too bad honestly. Audience seating numbered 3,000 and there are two shows in a day. Frankly, a very lucrative venture and aside from boasting a largest natural theatre in the whole world (apparently), another key selling point is that you can experience a different atmosphere each of the four seasons. 

These are the section "A", VIP area seats; The top class seats were sheltered which can be helpful during the rainy season. My sister and mom had to endure pelting cold rain when they visited in December a few years ago. 

Taken from stage front - bloody place was packed with people! Now, i was almost thinking that my sister could have been affected by the rain; hence her lousy review and warning. 

Start of 65-minute show with an appropriate singing of folk song by girls in traditional minority attire. For those who are unaware, Guangxi province (of which Guilin is part of) is an autonomous region housing the largest minority tribe in China, the Zhuang with a population of 14 million! 

With the dimming of lights came the impressive grandeur of the 12 natural peaks. The audience quieten down; as if their breath was taken away by this unexpected beauty. 

It didn't take them long to start whipping out their phones and tablets to take photos and videos. For better taken images, please google for impression liu sanjie.

The plot was supposed to follow rather closely to the classic 1961 movie with light, sound and smoke effects to bring audience "into" the scene. You may refer to the following photos. 

Various settings were used to showcase the storyline which should have been great except for two glaring issues; the horrible sound system and the lack of narration to guide foreigners. I can imagine most of them were just scratching their heads and not knowing what it was all about. 

Live animals were also brought in; including the cormorants and even cattle! 

I was particularly upset with the above scene; it was supposed to be a duel for folk songs between two groups and they had to scream at the top of their lungs as they were not miked up. Needless to say, it sounds just like gibberish to me. It's unfortunate because i do believe they can sing!

Massive props gliding down the water.

The scene of Liu Sanjie marrying her love; Ah Niu. Thankfully, it was only music accompanying the scene with no singing of song. 

Last part of the performance was a dazzling display of the lighting effects even though it incurred the utmost dissatisfaction from my dad who saw absolutely no relation with the original plot! 

Put it this way, he was pissed enough to comment after we returned back to Singapore that the performance was the least enjoyable among the many, many things we did. Anyway, above was the closing segment where the performers would appear to thank the audience. 

My personal take is that once is enough. The whole setting was of course one of its kind, breathtaking, huge and it's sad that the performers' hard work had to be wasted due to the reasons i mentioned earlier on. Running for 11 years running had taken its toll and maybe it's a good time to re-look into the show's technicalities, given the rapid advancement of technology. 


Within YangShuo, 
Guilin, China


As above. I know for a fact that the tour guide has to earn something and in this case, he earned about RMB 42 (roughly S$10) per person.

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

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