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An Unfurling Natural Scroll Painting of Elegance

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

There are numerous peaks on earth and the peaks here are some of the most beautiful. Today amongst these beautiful peaks I had an unexpected wild and wet time!

Due to the amazing amount of rain this area has had over the past week along with last night’s non-stop down pour (that lasted until mid day today), what was supposed to be a 'gentle kind of ‘rafting adventure through the MaLing Gorge turned into something unexpected even for the rafting guides. Several phones and watches were drowned and at the moment all of my money and other assorted pocket belongings lay scattered about my room which will hopefully dry by tomorrow morning allowing me to move on to my next destination.

So I ask the question, how did I end up nearly six hours south west of Anshun City? Honestly, not even I can control my adventurous mind when I’m travelling.

Due to the time factor and wanting to squeeze in another one or two places before having to head back to Yangshuo to collect my belongings to then make my way into the mountainous northwest corner of Fujian Province all before September 1st made me feel a little lost as to where to head after Anshun City.

Monday night I made my decision to slowly make my way south from Anshun city visiting more Miao and Dong Peoples Villages and after entering Guangxi Province re-visit the Dragons Backbone Rice Terraces that I visited in 2006 and then finish the 2010 Summer Beers N Noodles Adventure in Yangshuo where it began

So I ask once again; How in the world did I end up six hours in the opposite direction?

Yesterday morning after packing and without thought I opened my umbrella and slowly made my way to the Long Distance Bus Station. I love walking in the rain here in China for several reasons, firstly because I instantly become an unknown as no one can see my face and secondly I instantly get the entire footpath to myself as the Chinese like beetles quickly scatter into any available space that is undercover.

When I arrived at the ticket window I for some reason asked for a ticket to Xingyi City and within five minutes I was waving good bye to Anshun City. It wasn’t until then that I realised that I wasn’t heading back to Kaili for the night but heading in the exact opposite direction and my journey would end around three hundred kilometers from Kunming city in Yunnan Province.

If you’re sitting there confused then try living in my head! Like me you may also be asking the question ‘Where the hell is the MaLing Gorge’?

Wanfenglin, also known as the Forest of Ten Thousand Peaks is located near Xingyi City and has been ranked by the magazine ‘Geography China’ as one of the six most beautiful ‘Peak Forests’ in the country and after my visit today I couldn’t agree more.

It also leaves me with several questions;

One being ‘Why does Xingyi get such a bland write up in the Lonely Planet’ and secondly ‘why in five and a half years have I never met or heard anyone talking about this place’. Over and over I have heard about Anshun’s ‘Huangguoshu Falls’, yet when I visited them several days ago I found them to be very un-dramatic, over populated and more than over rated.

Yet here I found myself walking through a spectacular gorge filled with cascading waterfalls and passed by only three other people. I then had to wait an entire hour for another five or so people so I could take in the amazing rafting adventure that not only lasted around two hours but as I’ve stated above, due to more than enough rain had my stomach in my throat remembering my white water rafting adventure along the angry Tully River in Northern Queensland.

So why does no one come here?

MaLing Valley, also known as ‘A Beautiful Scar on the Earth’ is located in the middle and lower reaches of the Peak Forest Park. The surrounding forest spreads out like a fan from the edge of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau at an altitude of over two thousand meters and as usual here in China the peaks have been named according to their shape: blabla sword, blabla dragon, blabla arhat and believe it or not even a ‘pile of hats.’ Putting aside all the crazy names both the river and the karst peaks which that covered by craggy rocks and strangely shaped trees create just as extraordinary and enchanting reality as that offered in the Guilin area of Guangxi Province.

Which of course is one of THE ‘most touristy’ areas in China. Here you have all that with a million less people and no McDonalds or banana pancakes! The locals describe their area as follows;

The mountains here are not high, but the "bamboo-shoot" serried peaks present an irresistible spectacle. Looking at it from above, you can see unfurling a natural scroll painting of elegance and openness. The green-grey peaks and yellow and green fields each enhance the other's radiance and beauty all with the wandering Nahui River threading through the villages like white silk stringing pearls together.

<u>Now a Quick Description of My Day & Other Required Information</u>

I have no map so I can’t offer street names or in fact where I actually am but from the small yet very vibrant heart of the city that for me is set around the small hill park beside the DICO’s chicken eatery, catch Bus Number 4, the journey costs only one Yuan and takes around ten minutes.

To walk the MaLing Gorge costs 80 Yuan. I didn’t bother with the 30 Yuan &#8216;scenic elevator’ as the hills aren’t that high. The rafting cost also includes the stunning bus ride back to the main ticket office. The two hour rafting adventure that takes you in the opposite direction costs 160 Yuan.

I spent several hours walking along the pathways that took me through the spectacular crevice of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and even though it is high tourist season there were only a tiny handful of people that passed me by offering a peaceful smile. Thankfully the skies had cleared and there was a beautiful deep blue sky above that helped illuminate the different greens that I was surrounded by.

The walk begins with a small decent down the side of the canyon. If you desire to throw your money around you can waste thirty Yuan on the elevator.

Once at the bottom you have the choice of beginning on your side of the river or crossing the suspension bridge to begin on the other side either way it is a circular adventure. I began mine on the other side of the river and after crossing the suspension bridge I began to climb the side of the canyon. Along the pathway there is an over abundance of awesome views and on such a humid day there was ample opportunity to stand beneath the overflow from the many of the waterfalls that I passed by, beneath and behind. I ventured through various small caves that were found dripping with water but none of the latter were enough to warrant any type of wet weather gear as proposed by the LP nor did I for any reason need a torch.

For heaven’s sake I seriously believe guide book writers over react with their descriptions to make things sound all the more dramatic.

At the end of the trail I crossed another suspension bridge that allowed me to continue a little further through the gorge. I was rather surprised where the trail actually ended as just around a little further were several huge waterfalls and it seemed to me that even though everything I had just passed was more than enough that the real beauty may have just been starting.

From there I had to re-trace my steps back to the suspension bridge.

At the suspension bridge there is a board that offers an explanation to the amazing leaf shaped patterns that are known as Travertine’s. They are the eroded result of the interaction of the calcium rich water and the limestone rocks. After admiring the travertine’s I began my return journey. The pathway stayed at a low level allowing me to take in what I had just journeyed through all the while passing by lush tropical and subtropical plants that cover both sides of the river.

That was just the first part of my day!

After climbing the stairs all the way back to the ticket booth I felt like I needed something more and as the small store had no coffee I figured why not get the blood pumping by taking a rafting adventure and after nearly an hour’s wait (for enough people) I then spent several hours rafting down nearly fourteen kilometers of the river from Maling Town to the Tianxing Bridge.

For the first part we gently floated during which an English speaking guy from Wuhun and I wished for a little more and happily it wasn’t long before our wish came true. There were about five or six sections of the river that offered some crazy stuff and though each time didn’t last long it was more than enough to have our guides gasping for air trying to keep control, to kill several phones and plunge us deep into the angry white water enough to drench everyone on board.

On one occasion it was enough for our five guides to totally lose control.

Without control, instead of plunging front first into the angry frothing cascade we had to make do going down side ways. When we landed the raft flipped onto its side where it hung for far too long for my liking but thankfully two of the guides were quick enough to spring to the airborne side and with enough weight we came crashing back down into the angry waters.

Whilst we all knocked bodies and heads together and were smashed against the huge rocks that surrounded us I kind of thought that helmets and more than a tiny hand rope would be nice right now!

<u>As For Xingyi City</u>

The following is from the Lonely Planet;

Even with a new regional airport, construction sites galore and several new expressways, Xingyi is still pretty unexciting. By six in the evening people drain from town and roaming the streets of this oversized concrete city is frankly a bit of a downer. But if you find yourself here in the way to Guiyang, Nanning or Kunming, the surrounding countryside is definitely worth a visit for the beautiful karst scenery.

I’m not sure where the writer was staying but where I am staying there are street stalls galore that are filled with delicious snacks, clothes, odds and ends and a heap of people scurrying about checking out the scene. Admittedly it is only a small part of the city and I nearly missed it. As it was raining when I arrived I grabbed a cab to do the Hotel Shuffle and we flew through this tiny part of town and I ended up in a part of town that looked very much like where the writer of the LP must have stayed.

An oversized concrete city that is frankly a bit of a downer!

Thankfully I had pointed to the DICO’s Chicken Eatery as Micheal Wangnoodlemacher flew past at Formula One speeds and after arriving where he wanted me to stay I told him to &#8216;slowly’ take me back to DICO’s and that I’d find my own hotel and not long after I was throwing my pack on &#8216;one of my two double beds’ that my room comes complete with. I have two double beds, what does one do with two double beds when one is travelling solo?

Yes, my exact thoughts! Now get out of my head as you won’t be going there! Beers N Noodles toya…..shane

PS: Anyone wishing to travel from Anshun city to Xingyi City try to get a seat on the driver’s side of the bus as the entire journey you will be taken through some very amazing scenery all of which is set high in the mythically shaped mountains and well over half of the spectacular views of below are from the driver’s side. ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by the mighty Slayer. The album was &#8216;South of Heaven’ ____________________________________________________________

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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