Updated: Dec 29, 2020
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 screen that creates a mysterious feeling!
Not much is said about this hike to XINPING FISHING VILLAGE. I learn that in China, not everything can completely go as planned! And especially when my 70-year-old mum was hiking along with me.
some landmarks you will pass
START HIKE :
The initial start of the hike to this village is rather straight forward. Starts at the square of Xingping, where all the day-trippers get dropped off. It is a straight walkthrough, mandarin oranges, plums, pomelo orchards. You reach a slightly hilly path, it meanders around the karst hills.
From here it gets 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' (the village name)
As we went on up this path, we hear 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 were 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 a stick probably the size of a 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 any 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 shaded 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 distressed with the dogs and heat we forgot to enjoy the scenery, the hills are awesome, every peak was different!
You will pass through sugarcane plantation, just keep walking till you reach the village.
Both of us were totally exhausted and drained from the heat of the day and 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 an 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 built around the period between late 15-17th hundreds and although in decay, the effects of grandiosity of the architecture is present and one can only imagine in their moment in glory.
I was introduced to an old caretaker of the legendary President House that Sun Yet Sen, Bill Clinton visited, at 1998. The architecture style of this house was Northern Guangxi, with blue bricks, black tiles, flying eaves and wood carved windows.
The windows were so detailed, some carved with Chinese zodiac animals, flowers of the season and simple patterns.
each of the carvings is unique to each home
The caretaker opened 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 surprised 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 consists no more than 50 houses or so and there was nowhere 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 simple, 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. I believe their chicken is only reserved for festival celebration.
The caretaker agreed to take us back on his boat but could only be done from 6 pm (as the authorities forbid small boats to travel on the river from 8-6pm). 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 4.00 pm.
We were so excited to go back to civilization, we quickly agreed to go on his tut-tut 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 smuggler's pier for a good hour and a 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 imposed a strict law to forbid bamboo boats upstream, only tour boat was 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!! They 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, the top of the krast resembles a shell. And another next to it, a krast top that resembles a bride looking into her mirror, one, a gorrila 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 seems 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 the water! Make us wait till it was finally dusk and only at 7 pm 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 or any navigation but follow your guts and you may be ALRIGHT!! Follow my story and you may end up with a more adventurous one! If you are going there, I hope your experience will be just as memorable as mine!
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 suicidal. Therefore I strongly recommend that anyone planning a trip to China, first get your VPN!!
And on this one in particular, bring lots of water!
Date of visit: May 2019