Our schedule has been very fast-paced and some travel snafus have left me a bit over exhausted. I’ll try to catch up with some posts about our exciting days in Xi’ An when I get to Shanghai.
It poured this morning and we had just about dried out from the rain in Xian, but fortunately we began the day with a visit to the Art Institute here in Guilin. We attended a lecture on the art of ancient Chinese painting with a famous Chinese artist who demonstrated this incredible craft and produced a gorgeous piece before our eyes of specially prepared ink (paint) on rice paper. There are three categories of this type of painting (portraits, landscape and nature). The artists here first attend university for 4 years studying art and art history and then they apprentice with a master for a number of years. The color and subjects of many of these paintings are dictated by the seasons: Summer is represented by bamboo, spring is orchid, autumn is chrysanthemun and winter is plum. The artist chose to represent winter and we purchased this red and black painting for the School of Management. Gratefully, the rain subsided by the time we reached our next destination, a tea plantation. This particular tea farm is actually a research facility where we were treated to a demonstration of the process of tea making and instruction on the different types of tea – white, green, oolong and black which all come from the same tea plant. It was surprising to learn that green tea contains the most caffeine. Our host, Nico, was the same person who hosted us last year. We were then treated to a tea ceremony and learned about the formal protocal. We tasted four types of tea – yellow, flower, oolong and compressed. The compressed tea looks like a brick and is special to this tea farm. It has a shelf life of 50 years. Unlike our tea bags, the loose tea leaves may be reused 4 or 5 times and each type was incredibly flavorful.
Since the weather had cleared, we next visited Guilin’s highest mountain, called Yau Mountain, where we rode a chairlift up the mountain and climbed to the top above the clouds. While closed when we rode up, they were able to dry the mountain slide (which is called a tobboggan here) and we had a thrilling ride down the mountain.
Our city guide (Daisy) took us to a favorite restaurant of hers for a late lunch which was a bit different from the typical tourist restaurants that we have been frequenting. The dishes included duck, chicken and fish (both with the heads), prawn (feelers and all) and tofu which was delicious. Normally, I do not care for tofu, but this dish tasted like delicious barbequed meat. We also had some local rice wine that was just like schnapps. Since we were not far from our hotel, we all decided to walk back along the beautiful four lakes that are in the city’s center.
We will probably go out for pizza and a stroll later on and a bit of shopping at the open-air market that is set up along a main thoroughfare here at night.
Tomorrow morning we will take the Li River boat cruise before departing for the airport for our flight to Shanghai.