Wanfenglin Scenic Area, Dragon Palace Cave and Jiaxiu Tower (and of course a lunch)
So…we are in our last day in Guizhou Province and we still have a few places to visit which means this post I am going to cover three different places and a lunch so hope it’s not too long to read.
Our first stop is to Wanfenglin Scenic Area in Xingyi which is southwest of the capital Guiyang and is very much a karst mountain region which takes up about 2000 square kilometres of Xingyi. Wanfenglin is also known as the Forest of Ten Thousand Peaks and you can see why when you are here you will find the majority of China’s cone karst mountains.
Cone karst mountains are very similar to those found in Yangshuo in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (another amazing place in China). Both were created through the same process of slowly-dissolving limestone giving way to cone-shaped mini-mountains.
When we arrived at Wanfenglin, we took advantage of the safari buggies traveling along the high road which is about 100 metres above the valley floor, otherwise it’s a very long walk around the township. The predominant minority living here are the Buyi (布依), who are related to the Zhuang (壮) —the largest minority group in China.
Older architecture in the area is made from rough-cut local limestone with slate or tile roofs and our guide showed us the oldest home in the township. It’s a shame really that there are not many of the older homes left as they are wonderful to see but the traditional homes are being replaced by more modern country homes made with ceramic tiles.
I think the ride took us around forty-minutes and it was great to see the different karst peaks as the whole area is like a set from a movie. It was great to see the locals walking around and my two friends and I tried to take photos out of the moving but but it was very difficult. The crop fields were also wonderful to see from above; they change during the different seasons; all different shades of green, brown and yellow when we visited – just beautiful and magical.
Our next stop was to Dragon Palace Cave in Anshun where we took a walk alongside a little river before taking a little motorised boat into the caves. It is said that these caves are the home of the mythological Dragon King and got their name because of its resemblance to the Dragon King’s palace described in one of China’s most influential novels, ‘Journey to the West’.
Along the way we found some rather sweet signs and one which was a bit more direct…
Before entering the cave, you walk along a lovely little stone bridge which has stone dragons on either side.
Also at the area of the bridge was a lovely waterfall which our guide said the locals describe as a white dragon leaving its cave and is named the Dragon Gate Fall – it’s lovely!!
We then hopped onto a little mortised boat and travelled into the mouth of the caves.
Our guide advised us that this is the longest underground river in China, some 5,000 metres long and flows beneath more than thirty hills connecting over ninety limestone caves. Inside there is a waterfall, along with stalactite and stalagmite formations which are lit up with different colours – it was pretty but probably not one of the best places I have visited in China.
We then knew we had to have lunch as were were very hungry so we stopped at a little shop with a wonderful Chinese woman who made us some noodles and dumplings; too much food but it was sensational.
Whilst the owner cooked our noodles we selected toppings including chilli/onions/beef (for my friends) and vinegar and my friend Jo went to look for some cold drinks; which she found and brought back for us. I asked for vegetarian dumplings and my friends had the meat – all made in front of us on a tiny little bench then popped into boiling water to cook.
Of course my eyes were bigger than my belly and I ended up giving my dumplings to our driver and tour guide; which they appreciated. And as we left we gave the owner a little furry koala as a gift which she told us she was going to give to her grandchild; another person who was very appreciative!!
After our lunch we had one more place to visit before going to the airport – Jiaxiu Tower in downtown Guiyang. We did not have much time but wanted to see the tower so the driver dropped us off up the road and we walked very quickly to the area where the tower is located and along the way saw locals selling different types of fruit and lovely blossoming trees.
Jiaxiu Tower is a landmark of Guiyang and is known as the First Scholar’s Tower. It was originally built in 1598 to encourage intellectuals to study for imperial examinations.
It’s a three-storey tower twenty-metres high. We didn’t, unfortunately, have time to go into the tower but it was lovely to see from outside.
After a very long day we head to the airport to make our way back to Beijing. A fabulous province that I genuinely enjoyed.