Updated: Feb 18
Walking in Xinping village is an enchanting feeling and makes you think you are walking in a Chinese scroll painting. The whole landscape so magical and depending on the season, in spring, the whole village and karst hills are shrouded in this mist that acts as a screen that creates a mysterious feeling!
Not much is said about this hike to XINPING FISHING VILLAGE, and sometimes I learn that in China, not everything can completely go as planned! And especially when my 70 year old mum was hiking with me too.
The initial start of the hike to this village is rather straight forward. Starts at the square of Xingping, where all the day trippers gets dropped off. It is a straight walk through, mandarin oranges, plums, pomelo orchards. You reach a slightly hilly path, it meanders around the krast hills. From here it get rather tricky, so first turn right at the crossroads, uphill and make a left. Continue the hike uphill and the trail branches left and right, take the right. At this point you are still surrounded with orchards and plantation, you do see some workers, if you are unsure just ask them 'yue chun'.
As we went on up this path, we hear a strange music blasting away, perhaps frightening wild animals, breaking boredom or maybe scaring us away?? But at this point not a soul in sight, just this strange patriotic song. And then I heard barks, there was 2 dogs running in our direction, and then another 2 from the other hill running along, one of them must have been the alfa-male! All I could do was yell, and it was natural to pick up and tree truck!!
At this point my mum was so tired, dehydrated, stress and anxious. I didn't know what to do, my mum picked up a rock and me with the tree truck hoping to charge at the pack of dogs and more puppies were coming!! The dogs seemed more aggressive with our arsenal in hand, barking louder and perhaps even thinking to pounce at us.
And just at this point the guard came and told us to release our weapons and just walk on as he assured us that they don't bite! And so, we did!!
From this point, we had to go clip up the terrace of the plantation, it was hard to find the path, especially when there are no markings of sign of many kind. We continued till it was almost the ridge and just bushy surrounded us. But if you look hard enough, you will see there is an opening in the bush.
This is a shade part of the hike, rather rocky and slippery if it had rain the day before.
After about 100m of bush walk you will come out into an opening, there is a stone sign just follow the trail and it is all the way downhill. You will pass by plantations on both sides. We were so distress with the dogs and heat we forgot to enjoy the scenery, the hills are awesome, every peak was different!
You will pass though sugarcane plantation, just keep walking till you reach the village.
Both of us were totally exhausted and drained from the heat of the dayand uneventful happenings. I made a mistake to start the hike at 1030 it was too late and hot! So naturally, the next thing to seek for is a nice cafe or a place where you can relax those tired legs and calm those anxious nerves.
There was none, we found and old shack, probably someone's workhouse, he got us cold mineral water, (Thank GOD) My mum was so drained I didn't think she could make her way back on foot, and that would also mean passing the pack of dogs again! So i quickly tried to arrange for a boat back upstream.
The distance by river from point A to B is not more than 500m but there is no roads leading to this fishing village. The only way is through the orchard or boat.
Little did I know there was boat schedule made that decides the flow of the traffic on the LiRiver. No small boats were allowed to go upstream until dusk, which was from 7.00pm!
As they say when noting is under control, just make the best of what's at hand. This village was a GEM!! Nestled at the foot of the karst hills, by the Li River, it took me back to the era of Ming & Qing dynasties. These houses were build around the period between late 15-17th hundreds and they are decaying but you can still see and feel the effect of grandiose on the architecture in their moment in glory.
I was introduced to an old caretaker of the legendary President House that Sun Yet Sen, Bill Clinton visited, and the later at 1998. The architecture style of this house was Northern Guangxi, with blue bricks, black tiles, flying eaves and wood carved windows.
The windows so so detailed, some carved with chinese zodiac animals, flowers of the season and simple patterns.
The caretaker open up one of the houses and lead us up to a flight of stairs, it was dark and musky and was very lived in. We climbed another flight of stair that lead us to a rooftop. We step out and lo and behold, a panoramic view of traditional roofs, black tiles, surrounded with karst hills, it was so breathtaking like a scene from a movie set! I wouldn't be surprise to see a black flying kungfu master doing somersaults on the roof.
This would be the highlight of the village!
The was an awful lot of time we had and we just didn't know what to do. The fishing village consist no more than 50 houses or so and there was no where to go to! This caretaker then brought us back to his home. It wasn't an ancient home but a place we could sit back, have a drink and talk about when we could leave the village. Their lives are so simply, they offered us lunch, which we declined and their lunch was basically a huge bowl of rice and maybe some raw peanuts? Although there were chicken roaming freely but i believe they are only for festival celebration.
The caretaker agreed to take us back on his boat but could only be done from 6pm. We were getting a bit anxious as it got later. We checked with old caretaker and asked if there was any way to leave earlier. A private talk with his wife later he said we might be able to board a boat from the little pier and leave at 4.00pm.
We we so excited to go back to civilization, we quickly agreed to go on his tu-tu type bike which he steered through thick bamboo forests and through the narrow village roads, plantation paths and ended up in a smugglers pier.
We waited at the smugglers pier for a good hour and half, feeding mosquitos and anxious AF! Thick bamboo forest surrounding us, I had a thought that he was going to kill both my mum and I.
I quickly extinguished my dark thoughts and kept pressuring him with questions about when the boat was coming. At this time he did not make known to me that CHINA government had impose a strict law to forbid bamboo boats upstream, only tour boat were allowed too. He kept bidding round the bush telling us that a bus boat ferrying children from school would come and told us not to worry.
By this time dusk was approaching. it was 5.30, no boats came!! The passed us, one by one and none would stop as the water police were active on the river.
The smuggler pier was so beautiful, it was surrounded with karst hills, but i was in no mood to enjoy it, however, it was hard to ignore the beauty even at that state of mind. There is nunnery below one of these hills, one resembles the shell, one is a bride look into her mirror and it goes on!
To cut the story short, no boat ever arrive and we did not leave from the smuggler pier. The caretaker, at this point he seem to me like one of those psycho man from a horror movie, took us back to the main pier in the fishing village, entrapped us on his boat by pushing it out into water! Make us wait till it was finally dusk and only at 7pm he brought us back to XIngping.
This is a story I will live to tell!! In short, if you are coming here, plan ahead, this place is rural and has many laws unknown to us. When I went back to my hotel to relate my story to the owner, he did tell me that a month ago a teacher with some students tried to find their way to the village but failed.
I did not have google map at that time and no map as well, follow your guts and you may be ALRIGHT!!
Note: A lot of the mistakes I made was because I did not have google map. Not having maps and attempting a hike like this one is sucidal. Therefore I strongly recommend that anyone planning a trip to China, first get your VPN!!
Date of visit: May 2019