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A fantastic 12-day holiday tour in South China - 2009

Our expedition from 26th March to 6th of April was a fantastic holiday tour.

Our trip in China of 12 days - Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Guilin, Yangshuo, back to Guilin and then Macau - was all arranged and co-ordinated by China Odyssey. Maggie was our travel agent that organized our trip. At last we travelled 4 days in Macau, 1 day in Zhuai and 4 days in Hong Kong, by ourselves.

We had an idea of the places we would like to visit and wanted an agency who could organize a tailor-made holiday and not just sell us a 'packaged tour'. China Odyssey Tours was just great.

Guangzhou
We arrived at Hong Kong international airport and travelled from Hong Kong to Guangzhou by fast train, on our own. In Guangzhou we had our personal guide waiting for us.We had visited the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (wich was constructed between 1929 and 1931, a monument to Dr Sun Yat-sen, the forerunner of the Chinese democratic revolution, by the people of Guangzhou), the Chen Family Temple (that was built in the 1890s and has nine halls and six courtyards), the Temple of Six Banyan Trees (wich is an ancient Buddhist temple originally built in 537 in the Liang Dynasty), the Five-Ram Statue in Yuexiu Park (The Sculpture of the Five Rams built in 1959 is the symbol of Guangzhou) and Qingping Market It is the largest street market in Guangzhou. Over 60, 000 people shop there every day. We visited Shang Xia Jiu pedestrian street by our ourselves. Shangxiajiu street is a famous special shopping center in Guangzhou. Though most of the goods there do not have good quality, they are really cheap. Travelers and local people are fond of shopping there.Our accommodation in Guangzhou was in the New Century Hotel (three-star). It was localized in the center but we must confess that we didn't like the Li Du Hotel.

Guilin
We flew from Guangzhou to Guilin and we had another personal guide waiting for us that escorted us to the hotel. The accommodations were in the Osmanthus Hotel (three-star) that we liked very much. We had a really nice view from our room.Guilin is in fact the most scenic city in China. On the first day in Guilin we had already visited the Two Rivers and Four Lakes Scenic Area by boat, by night. The area at night is particularly beautiful. The two rivers are the Li and Taohua (Peach Blossom) Rivers. The four lakes are the Rong (banyan tree) Lake, Shan (Chinese fir) Lake, Gui (Osmanthus tree) Lake, and the Mulong (Wooden dragon) Lake. We stepped the Solitary Peak, a hight of steps with 306 steps to the top of the peak, where we enjoyed the beautiful scenery of Guilin City. Solitary Beauty Peak is located in the ancient Mansion of Prince Jingjiang, in the center of Guilin City, Guangxi Province, with an area of 6,100 square meters. Towering 216 meters, above the sea level and 66 meters above the ground, this peak has been a major scenic site in Guilin since ancient times and is renowned as the 'Sky-Supporting Pillar in the South'.By evening we saw the show at Lijiang Theatre to see the Ethnic Song and Dances Show. The Guilin Lijiang Theater is a luxurious theater for professional performances. It has a stage lighting and acoustic with the "Minority People's" singing and dancing that performed at this theater every evening. It is really an ideal place to spend the evening in Guilin.

Yangshuo
We were driven from Guilin to Zhujiang Pier (40 minutes drive) to start our boat cruise down the picturesque Li River, which is the highlight of any visit to Guilin, until we get to Yangshuo County. Along the river, we were inspired by breathtaking views of peaks and pinnacles, crystal-clear water and picturesque pastoral views of rice paddies and water buffaloes. We felt like we stepped into a traditional Chinese painting. It was one of the most beautiful cruises in my life.The views are quite fantastic. We've never seen such wonderfully shaped hills rising out of the otherwise flat land before and the sheer quantity of them were amazing. Lunch was freshly prepared on board. The journey took four hours but was well worth it and the weather, although slightly misty, was pleasantly warm.In Yangshuo we had explored the famous West Street. The West Street is the oldest street in Yangshuo with a history of more than 1400 years. Situated at the center of Yangshuo County its unique mix of cultures and, each year, approximately 100,000 foreigners come here on their travels. Our personal guide had organized a visit to an old farm, which was very interesting. By evening we saw the show Sanjie Liu in Yangshuo, a fantastic show! Nobody can miss it. I've never seen anything quite like it. It is reminiscent of the Beijing Olympics Opening. This is the world's largest natural theater which utilizes the waters of the Li River as its stage, with twelve mist shrouded hills and the heavens as its backdrop. Mist, rain, moonlight, the hills and their inverted reflections in the river all become the ever-changing natural background. It was a huge outdoor performance with 2500 seats available. There is a great choreography using hundreds of performers The participants in the show are in excess of 600 performers, all of whom are local people of the Li River. Liu Sanjie is a story that originates from the Zhuang minority people. The Zhuang are the largest minority group in China. The story is about a legend of a woman called Liu Sanjie, which means "third sister". The legend tells the tale of Liu Sanjie who had a beautiful voice at very early age. Her voice was so beautiful it could even raise the dead. It became a famous story.Our accommodations were in the New Century Hotel (three-star). It was in the center and it was a good hotel for us with an excellent breakfast.

Yangshuo / Guilin / Macau
We were driven back to Guilin (1.5-hour drive), where we had a tour to the Elephant Trunk Hill (The shape of the hill is just like a huge elephant drinking water from the river with its trunk, so it is called Elephant Trunk Hill. On the top of the hill is a two-storey pagoda built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) surrounded by green trees. As the symbol of Guilin, Elephant Trunk Hill is the main scenic spot of the Elephant Trunk Hill Park, which also includes Yunfeng Monastery), the Fubo Hill (the towers Fubo Hill is another of Guilin's wonderfully scenic spots. It reaches the height of 213 meters and emerges 62 meters above the water. It was on this hill that a temple in commemoration of General Fubo was built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), which gave rise to the name Fubo Hill) and the Reed Flute Cave (The cave got its name from the verdant reeds growing outside it, with which people make flutes. Inside this water-eroded cave is a spectacular world of various stalactites, stone pillars and rock formations created by carbonate deposition. Illuminated by colored lighting, the fantastic spectacle is found in many variations along this 240-meter-long cave) before our guide escorted us to the airport for our flight to our next destination - Macau.

Conclusion
China Odyssey Tours made all the hotel bookings and organized tickets and internal flights for us. We were accompanied and transported to and from each departure/arrival point, checked into. Very competent and knowledgeable English-speaking guides with drivers and cars were provided for the two of us for the duration of our visit to Guangzhou, Guilin and Yangshuo. The guides were quite flexible with arrangements and trips that were adjusted to suit us wherever they could. This was a truly memorable holiday.